Relationships at Work - Your Honest Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blind Spots.

Why We Need to Assess Leadership at Work

April 09, 2024 Russel Lolacher - leadership and workplace relationship advocate Episode 150
Why We Need to Assess Leadership at Work
Relationships at Work - Your Honest Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blind Spots.
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Relationships at Work - Your Honest Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blind Spots.
Why We Need to Assess Leadership at Work
Apr 09, 2024 Episode 150
Russel Lolacher - leadership and workplace relationship advocate

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with leadership and business development coach Jen Hope on assessing leadership and what we need to understand to get it right.

Jen shares her thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • Importance of self-awareness through assessments.
  • Value of feedback and a growth mindset.
  • Bais in assessments.
  • Integration into organizational culture.
  • Organizational support for continuous improvement.
  • How debriefs and development plans foster accountability.

And connect with me for more great content!

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with leadership and business development coach Jen Hope on assessing leadership and what we need to understand to get it right.

Jen shares her thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • Importance of self-awareness through assessments.
  • Value of feedback and a growth mindset.
  • Bais in assessments.
  • Integration into organizational culture.
  • Organizational support for continuous improvement.
  • How debriefs and development plans foster accountability.

And connect with me for more great content!

Russel Lolacher: And on the show today, we have Jen Hope and here is why she is awesome. She's a leadership and business development coach, helping those leaders be more intentional in how they show up and their impact on the workplace. She's worked with companies such as Amazon, Oracle, DocuSign.

Her background includes more than two decades of roles in marketing leadership, keynote speaking, and she has certification in various leadership assessments, which is real handy today because that's what we're going to be talking about. Hello, Jen.

Jen Hope (Kellum): Hello.

Russel Lolacher: Thanks for being here, excited to get into assessments. I think leaders need to really understand how they're good and how they're horrible.

And I think there's that self awareness piece that assessments can really help with. And that's why I'm super stoked to have you here because I have so many questions, Jen. But before we do, I want to start with the question I asked all of my guests, which is what is your best or worst employee experience?

Jen Hope (Kellum): So I will start by saying I have this experience in leadership coaching, in addition to the work that I've done in that kind of corporate startup environment. I also spent time for, as a side hustle teaching group fitness. And the world of group fitness is very interesting as it relates to onboarding employees.

They do it regularly. And you'd think with quite a bit of practice. We have a lot of it's a this is a, this is an early part of my career and I, I will say it was a bit like what we may have imagined in a retail environment where we're the, door is, unfortunately there's, a lot of employee churn in that environment.

And I think one of the most difficult parts of an experience that I had was being given on my first day a headset and a template and a room full of 40 people. I had a playlist, which I had created myself and I was on mic, right? And didn't have the experience that I have these days of being on mic.

And, in so many ways, so grateful to have spent those times being on mic on the fly and can now do this here today with less of the concern and less of the worry, but it was a wild, world to walk into a room and say, press play and go. And that's what I did. That's what I got to do. And that was my first that was the first of one of it was difficult and it worked out well environments.

Russel Lolacher: So you walked in there with very little direction, no understanding what the expectations were of what you were to deliver. What did you take away from that moment that you'd have to then be iterative moving forward?

Jen Hope (Kellum): What did I take from it? I knew more than I thought I did, for one. I also really understood that, we were going to need to be flexible and we were going to need to look to things that I knew from my past and move without the direction, which is something I I have done in the past.

I've gone into roles with ambiguity. And the expectations were serve the clients, be safe, right? Provide something safe to these folks. And it was, more of we really trust you. We've seen what you can do. You have, you've brought your experience here. You've brought all the things that you know and, your certification and your education.

And we trust you to create an environment and that you understand the brand and you understand the responsibilities of being in your role. So, you know, fly.

Russel Lolacher: Don't drown. Fly.

Jen Hope (Kellum): Best of luck.

Russel Lolacher: But It's so funny you bring that up because we talk so much from a leadership perspective for our teams, empower them, But that empowerment can be a double edged sword if that person is not feeling equipped to be empowered or given the right direction to be empowered. So it's not just empowering.

There needs to be some direction involved in it as well. Yeah.

Jen Hope (Kellum): And, I think too it's, giving folks confidence giving folks the understanding that you have confidence in them is incredible. Again, to your point, role clarity and, I should say was it completely without a net? Oh there was a, but there was a format, there was a template.

I had a sense of where things might go and definitely and a little bit frozen on the spot of, okay we're doing this right now? Okay we're in it today. Sounds good. Let's roll.

Russel Lolacher: But there's that assumption that you do have the confidence. I mean, you certainly can find it in the moment. And certainly will have to find it in the moment, but to empower, I think it really comes down to leaders really understanding their staff of what their potential is, why they're not setting them up for success, that this actually is a good thing, which kind of leads very much into the topic we're talking about today, which is understanding who you are, understanding your impact on the workplace and assessments are such amazing tools for that.

I've certainly had a few assessments in my life, and had varying degrees of success and or confidence in the results. And I'm super curious about your perspective on that. But before we get any further, I really like defining things before we get into any part of this conversation. So first, before we start, can we define what assessing leadership is?

Jen Hope (Kellum): The assessing leadership is what I see as a, often a first step or a grounding tool in professional development, leadership development, where we are going to help guide a conversation, help divide, help guide a development plan. And say. let's gather some information, gather some data that helps us start to make sense and also start to define for this individual, or a group or collective, a team... what are, the themes that we're seeing and what are then the strengths? What are potential opportunities for growth? What are some of, again the, some of the defining characteristics that make this person how they do what they do and, what they do their best and some of the motivations.

And so for me, it's often a starting point where we're saying, Hey let's get to some information. Let's see how resonant it is for you to, in your lived experience and your, in your professional experience. And then let's guide from that. Okay. What do we, glean? What are some opportunities and then let's set that forward goal.

So at the starting point, it's self awareness and it's a grounding opportunity to the big picture of the work.

Russel Lolacher: What are we assessing, Jen? Because leadership is my, it's one of my least favorite words because everybody has their own definition of what leadership is. Every organization has a definition of what leadership is. They never communicate it, but they do tend to have the word thrown around a lot. So what are we actually assessing?

Cause I know there's so many varying different tools.

Jen Hope (Kellum): Yeah. So in my mind, I, and I work quite a bit with, two tools. I'm, pretty deep and, pretty loyal to a tool called DISC, which a lot of folks have seen. The particular provider I am you know, more bias too because I've seen the decades and decades of research that they've done and, how they've standardized it and, how they continue to, build it out.

And that is, what we're doing there is we're understanding behavior which is that observable, this is how we do what we do. And that leaves out part of the conversation around motivation. And it is really intended as a separate conversation because this is the impact that we have when we are working with folks.

This is that observable outside picture. That is one aspect of understanding your leadership. The bigger picture to me, again, is more tool based in and it, what it's doing leadership circles that I'm talking about and leadership circle provides us with a set of 18 competencies of leadership. And those would be the 18 things that if we can build out a skillset around them, that we are working with, like what they call generative leadership, right?

So it's a leadership tools and leadership competencies that are getting us to scale that are getting us to growth that are providing folks who work around us with a sense of trust and a sense of, knowing that they're working with someone who's authentic and integrous. And what they have is a map essentially that guides us away from some of those reactive things that we all have and we all do and points us in it in a direction that says, Hey, we can take these kind of reactive tendencies that we all show up with and point them another direction.

If we can get out of our own way, self story and, point ourselves in a more effective direction. So in, in that world, I have a definition of how, of how we could break down those competencies and give myself and folks who I I work with and organizations that I work with a bit of a definition.

So, so we can at least be speaking the same language, across the board and about this kind of topic that, as you said, is like pretty ambiguous.

Russel Lolacher: Who's doing the testing, Jen? Because I know a few, like StrengthsFinder, I paid the money and I went through that whole process, but that was all very about me. Other organizations do it for their employees. Is it HR? Is it executive? Who's doing this? Who's responsible for these assessments?

Jen Hope (Kellum): It's both, I would say it's individual leaders in larger organizations bringing in this type of work for their teams. This is where they're putting their development budget. For others, it is HR, they're running programs. I would say in some of the like SMB clients that I work with it's a CEO. It's, it's somebody in that C suite who's bringing in a tool to kind of like collectively provide us with some information.

Russel Lolacher: Okay. So I guess the big question I have to ask too is why? So we're doing these assessments. What is the benefit...

Jen Hope (Kellum): Yeah.

Russel Lolacher: of doing this?

Jen Hope (Kellum): For, a lot of folks, we have been given leadership responsibilities, and I would say, I don't know what 75, 80 percent of folks couldn't give you a definition of leadership. And so what we're doing is saying, Hey, here's a tool. Here's some information. Here is a language that we're going to use across team, organization to give ourselves a North Star around management, around individual development, professional development, around what we wish this organization to be in the same way that we would define brand and same way, in the same way that we would define product. We're giving something more grounded to this thing that we call leadership.

Russel Lolacher: So when should this...

It does. I was, nodding and smiling. I was nodding and smiling, but here's, where I, here's where my fear is, Jen is that C suite, that CEO goes, we're going to bring in DISC. They bring in DISC. Hey, we did DISC seven years ago. Remember DISC? It seems like this one off thing that they never follow up on that is, is a checked box exercise.

Meanwhile, so much can change. So much can... your priorities, your values within an organization can change. So it seems like it's this tool that is done once, and then we can just point to it later on. Not something we do consistently. What would you say to organizations that approach it like that?

Jen Hope (Kellum): I mean, It's, the equivalent of you come in and, we do the assessment and you put it away in a drawer, right? Those are not the folks who I think are truly invested, right? When you've got real buy in, what I've seen organizations do is start with executive teams, and we're gonna go in and we're gonna do and we're gonna really build it in to a leadership team.

And so everyone on the team has done DISC. We've done multiple workshops at the executive level about DISC, about what do we make of the results? What do we make of the gaps in where we've hired folks who kind of fall under into a couple of categories, right, around behavior. Or preferences around behavior.

And then we, then we build it throughout the rest of the organization. And now we're doing DISC with everyone who lands in the organization. And we're continuing that process as our teams evolve, as leadership evolves, we continue to iterate on that and, we continue to build it into, to both onboarding and, into the to, into the employee experience.

So everyone who's in that organization has seen it, has understands it, and knows how to make adaptations through that lens.

Russel Lolacher: Shouldn't this be a huge part of the hiring process, as well?

Jen Hope (Kellum): I have mixed feelings on...

Russel Lolacher: Oh bring it! Tell me what you think about that.

Jen Hope (Kellum): I think, relying on it as a, truly a decision making tool, I'm not sure about. Because we can find bias for folks who are like us. And I'm not sure that's what we're really looking for in that process.

Russel Lolacher: I always in the back of my head do have the diversity, inclusivity, equity thoughts around, okay. I understand your organization wants to hire people that have the same values as the organization. But what does that look like? Is it an older white male? Because you're, if you're sticking to a certain tool to assess a certain type of person, you're going to start seeing the same thing in the mirror probably over and over again.

And that is not the road to innovation. That is not the road to DEIB. So, could it be possibly a suite of tools? Does it need to be one assessment? I, totally hear your, where you're coming from, but also there is a culture fit conversation that tends to, that needs to be a part of this too.

Jen Hope (Kellum): Yeah. I mean, I'm not, I would say this, I am not the expert on, the best way to hire around diversity, equity, inclusion. I don't, have the depth, that I know so many others do on this topic. I do know that even with something like behavior, we, I have seen organizations end up in bias.

Just one of the tools that one of the factors in a DISC assessment is where do we show up around influence and that is essentially like extraversion and introversion. That's a very simplified definition of it. But that's our the preferences that we have around trust. And we can find organizations who, you know, essentially over index in certain directions.

And that is because we are as a, as an executive team, we prefer extroversion. And so in our organization, we look for folks and see folks who are talking at a rapid pace who are kind of hyper verbal. If we find someone in the interview process who is more reflective, is that affecting how we're making some of these decisions?

So is it, is there an answer to these are the exact tools to use to build out something more diverse? I don't think I have that answer. I, would, I, wouldn't, I wouldn't, put my expertise in the experience I have in how organizations use these tools once folks have been brought in instead of that being a more predictive, instead of a, being a predictive index of, success.

Russel Lolacher: It's a fair comment considering, I mean, we're really just talking about data points of understanding and what you do with that data is completely for good or for bad. So it's really just having that understanding. So I want to dig into your experience of assessment. How have you seen leaders, frontline staff, employees, colleagues, as they better understand themselves through an assessment like this, how has it improved or been horrible for their understanding of their impact in the workplace, employee experience, culture? What do they do with that data?

Jen Hope (Kellum): One of the first things that they do is they have two ways that they're taking in information. One is this kind of quantitative opportunity to look at here's data based on, In some cases, a couple hundred years of studying human behavior and, some of the, most recent research around leadership and what we would call like creative leadership and, you can call that, the, most successful tools that we would need to, be a leader.

And I would say they start with the quantitative. So we just look at information. And then we have this opportunity in the tools that I use to also take this qualitative information, some of the descriptors. If we're doing a 360, we get the opportunity to take in the words that others are using. And I think of it a bit like a market research.

I I'm, I was a marketer for 15, 18 years before I started doing this work. And, I take that as a bit of market research and presented as market research that says we went out in the world and we gathered some information. And what do we glean from that information to help us apply some of this language to our leadership, right to our brand, right in our customers words.

How would they describe the value that we bring? And we can do the same thing in the qualitative part of something like a DISC report where we're getting some descriptors and we can say, Oh, that really rings true for my brand. Or that rings true for when I know true to be true about myself, here's some edits that I would make because this feels a little bit more authentic to me.

And we can start to own pieces of that.

Russel Lolacher: What does it mean to your team as a leader... So you've been through an assessment, what do you think it means to a to know that your leader, your supervisor is taking this seriously, that is going down this path of trying to understand themselves?

Jen Hope (Kellum): I mean, in the world of leadership competencies, this checks the box of, am I, a personal learner? That's kind of step one. Am I a personal learner? If we're, taking the time to, to do this, okay, we've checked that box. We apply this to something, like feedback. Here I am. I'm starting this conversation with which I'm assuming great leaders are going to be wanting to have a two way conversation about feedback.

And this is a point where we're saying and especially in a public environment where we're letting our team kind of participate in this growth, we're saying here's an opportunity for feedback. I am confident enough. I am willing to be vulnerable enough to be this candid and say these are the things that I am working on at the moment and we're, we are safe here to have that discussion.

That's what I gather. What do you think of that?

Russel Lolacher: Yeah, no I, think it's, understanding that your boss is, I shouldn't say boss... leader hopefully. If they're a boss, your assessment didn't come off so great. I think it's important for your team to understand that you have a growth mindset, that you are not fully baked when you come into a role and that you're constantly trying to learn.

And one of the biggest pieces you can learn is about yourself. I think one of the biggest challenges or mistakes that assessment can happen is you keep the information to yourself. Is that I learned my values. They're all mine. I'm not telling anybody else. Then how do we know to interact with you? How do we know what motivates you?

How do we know what's important to you if you keep this all to yourself? So you understand yourself, but we don't understand how to work with, around, above you. So I think teams having that, as you say, part of the process, I think is astronomically important to help with connection. I think it's absolutely helpful to help with collaboration to help them get curious about their own way of working.

I think it's nothing but a, way of ripples in a pond, right? Model the behavior you want. And I think assessing your leadership and making it a priority, the behavior that we would want from our own teams and trying to make them leaders as well.

Jen Hope (Kellum): Yeah. Yeah. And we have to be doing that in an environment where it's safe to do so. Um and I would say that is the norm and, not where, you know, somebody is doing this work and there are plenty of organizations where to say that I am working with a coach or doing this assessment work is not something that would be shared, in a group or even in a team amongst peers.

That is, it is seen as, weakness. And I'm that is not that's not my thoughts on it at all. I think it's an incredibly brave, part of being a leader. And, if anything, it's, it is like you're saying, it is a commitment to, being someone who's ready to do growth.

And, but I'm, but in organizations, I don't know that we've made that leap yet. As you're saying, like in, in something where we'd see what I would call some of the dated leadership values. That's not the case.

Russel Lolacher: I'm hopeful. I think a lot of organizations are starting to lean a lot more... we're having a lot more conversations about D. E. I. B. We're having a lot more conversations about psychological safety. That wasn't even a word that was barely used 3-4 years ago. And now in any leadership conversation, it's the D. N. A. we need even to start with for change. But you bring up some really good points about roadblocks, about challenges organizations, can bring to the table. Talking about assessments, saying they're going to implement it, but then maybe not being the right culture to be bringing this in, not being ready.

What are some red flags or canaries in a coal mine that organizations should be looking for to think, you know what, maybe we're not quite ready to do things like this?

Jen Hope (Kellum): I think a common one is we start assessment work at the senior leadership level, but not C suite, that happens quite a bit where we can get the rest of the organization, started on this process and it doesn't make its way into, an executive suite. I'm always... that gives me pause, just on I think you could probably understand why. That would be, that's one of the red flags for me.

Seeing, like you've talked about, a very short program. We do work for 12 weeks versus we've got a a bigger plan of kind of weaving this into our entire employee experience. Those would be the ones that stand out to me.

Russel Lolacher: So how do you get them on board? I mean, there's executive that will go, so are we assessed yet? Great! Checkbox. I can put it in for this quarter that we did such a thing. Meanwhile, they're not being part of the party. They're not they're, part of the problem, not part of the transformation that the organization is trying to go through with these tools.

From an assessment standpoint, from the outside looking in, do you go, you know what, I'll see you in about two years? Or is there something you can do or even HR can do to convince organizations that this is important to do for everybody.

Jen Hope (Kellum): Sometimes it is a matter of let's show, not tell. And let's, let's create an environment where we get folks talking about it, right? We're doing a that like our own internal marketing around the program and that can change things as we see. leaders evolve. That can change things. And so we can do internal marketing. That's one of the suggestions that I would make. And we can do some of what you said, which is let's wait a year, let's wait two years and do this when the organization is ready to, to kind of address through, through all parts of the organization, might be under the surface and really taking a close look at it.

So we can get I've seen great scenarios too, where we get a couple of folks brought in and, from that executive team and, willing to bring this into different parts of the organization we've got a CMO who's built it into their entire org. Great.

That's a great place to start. And then we can start the conversation there.

Russel Lolacher: We kind of touched on it, but I just want to be clear here. How frequently do you think is the sweet spot for doing this? Is it onboarding? Is it every couple of years? How frequently should we be assessing our leadership?

Jen Hope (Kellum): When we have teams that are changing by like more than 30, 40%, is a great point. So if we're adding folks and we've got folks as, we do leaving organizations or changing teams that's the point to do it for a team. And as far as when to do it, big picture... I I do think in, in the onboarding is ideal, a wonderful. And what we can do from there is for a leader, no sooner than a year, hopefully pushed out a bit from there, 18 months, something like that.

Russel Lolacher: Say you go through the assessment process and say you don't agree with the results...

Jen Hope (Kellum): Yeah.

Russel Lolacher: What do you do? Do you just go maybe I don't know myself so well, or do you get all stubborn and go, Nope, take it again. Take it again. What is the best way to approach that information?

Jen Hope (Kellum): Oh, I'm happy to let people take it again. What I see sometimes, in that process is they, while they want to see particular parts of, the report change in a second or third assessment they often double down on the thing that they really didn't want to double down on. And let's see. What else? I think one of the parts of that aspect of understanding reports, and this is important to me, and this is also one of the reasons that I work with the provider for DISC that I work with, part of this comes from the way that we debrief the information. This is one of the reasons, to me, I spend so much time With the individual talking about their report and their results, because in it's black and white version that you're looking at on your screen, we interpret so much of this as either judgments or the, statements themselves have some value applied to them, right?

Like we're, if I, am a a high, I will even just the word high could tell us or provide us with information or our interpretation of it can say that is somehow good, bad, right? But there's, there really isn't there isn't value associated with that. It's, a descriptor that is just about where a number is on a graph.

And so to me, the way to work through some of that is working with someone who really can help folks understand that this is all behavior on a spectrum and that we're all going to have limitations. And what it can do is be a bit of a guide and, a bit of a way to kind of peek around corners to say, like on my worst day, I'm going to be mindful that my behavior could come across as, aloof, right.

And, or on my my when I I'm too stressed or when I get too comfortable, I can be the person who is in the weeds on a, on minutia versus the big picture, right? And it's that. It's a way of saying something a lot more in a way that can be hopefully neutral about our behavior or about the things that we do that really well or need to work on.

And not push people into a corner, which, if we're, if, we're pushing folks too hard, I find that we get that reaction. Right. And if we're working with folks in a way where they find themselves judging themselves, that's, where we get that. That's where we get the this is BS and, I'm too flooded and I'm too overwhelmed by my own kind of shame or embarrassment about some of these things that we all have which is, limitations.

Russel Lolacher: There's a lot of different tools. I mentioned Strength Finder earlier. I know Insights is another one. Break Breckenmeyer. I can always, forget that one. There, Myers Briggs. Wow. Could I have not screwed that up more Myers Briggs. You're an innovator. You're a theater nerd. There's just all those personas you have to do with that one.

I know you're, quite into DISC or very, much involved in DISC. So is the process pretty much the same? Is it, answer a bunch of questions, we'll assess you based on those questions. We'll give you the results. Every one I've done is pretty much the same. It's just looking at different things.

Is that, and what are, so what are we looking for? How does that process work?

Jen Hope (Kellum): So it's a 10 minute assessment. It is meant to be taken, quickly because we don't want to spend too much time in analyzing what would be, what we determined to be the right answer. We want your gut answer. And from there you, know you're, going to get an insights report. And like I mentioned, it'll have.

Qualitative information as well as quantitative information and what it's giving you is what would be considered an outsider's perspective about, an observable, description of your behavior and what folks on the outside can take in about you.

Russel Lolacher: So you get your results, as you mentioned earlier, it really depends on how those results are presented to you and walked through them for you.

Jen Hope (Kellum): Yeah.

Russel Lolacher: What do you do with them? From an operational standpoint, how do you operationalize this? Because the next assessment will be down the road as you said, but now you have these results.

Do you do regular check ins? Do you try to connect the dots? What's the operational view of this?

Jen Hope (Kellum): Yeah, so I would say the next step is a debrief in my ideal world, and I think in the ideal world of these reports, is a debrief, is a conversation with someone who can take you through and help you really tease out what are the one to two things that I'm, gleaning from this information and create a development plan.

So you're, working with let's look six months out, let's get some stakeholders. So let's get five folks who work either that you're, are your leaders, folks who are working on your team, your peers. And again, this is folks in who we really trust, right? This is the, these are the folks who if I'm recommending to someone, they're going out into the world and asking folks to buy in on their development process, it is folks that, they trust.

That is not, that is not always how this works, but in if if I had my little magic wand, that would be who we get involved in that process is folks who really are invested in your development. And then we're working to 6 months out at 90 days. We're checking in.

We're checking in. We can check in with some of those stakeholders. We can check in with ourselves. We can do a check in, hopefully with, the person who is doing this assessment work and, leading it, to check our progress. And then again, we're doing a year out. And, and that's when we can see folks who are not as up close with our work, maybe start to take notice.

And that's a long time. I I will set the stage and say it is, it's not overnight. And it is, an investment. An organization has to get behind it. A leader has to get behind it. An individual has to get behind this is something that I can see the value of, and I'm willing to, over six months really dive in and think about what is, what, where can adapt?

Where are some very specific places that should I want to, or should the, the need be there that I can adapt? And at that year point is where we see, okay I can look back a year ago and say a full season ago, I have really come a long way.

Russel Lolacher: Yeah. You easily led me to my next question. Cause you touched on the organization. A lot of what you're talking about is the person's role in following up with their mentors, their network. There's, where's the organization in this? They know their leaders are taking these assessments. They know it's happening out there, what's the role of the organization to create an environment of support in that operationalization?

Jen Hope (Kellum): Yeah. I mean, it again depends on where this is coming from. If this is HR, what support are we putting in place? What is the program that builds underneath this, that we are getting folks either an ongoing education in, these different, topics, right? How are we bringing them a kind of like a, like a leveled approach.

So we started understanding ourselves, right? That's step one. Where down the road are we bringing in understanding others? Where down the road are we bringing in how does the system which within that we're working in, influence some of these elements as well? What are we doing as an organization that says, okay we've, gathered now some of the individual information, some of the team based information, and this, I mean, in a perfect world, this goes the other way, right?

We're understanding, the environment we're creating first. That is not always the case. So if we're going this direction now, hopefully at some point in this process, we're looking at the big picture and saying, these are the values of our organization, and then there's the reality of what's happening in our organization, and this is... how do we live? What do we, allow in our environment? And that is a different that's a, that's hopefully the initial investment. And it's a, and it's a, what I would say, table stakes to making this, the start of this program successful.

Russel Lolacher: So where are the gaps? You've been doing these assessment tests for a while. What is something that's not... are we not set up really to assess with these tools that maybe we should be looking at more? I'm kind of curious as to what you think. Assessments are nothing's perfect. No tools absolutely end all and be all. What do we need to also be considering as we assess leadership?

Jen Hope (Kellum): Neurodiversity. That's not there. That's, something that is on my mind regularly with these assessments I don't have a solution for it, but I know that's something that we need to be mindful of. Judgment and how we assess the way that we're looking at this in an international environment or also just the different way, different ways that culture show up and that we're still gathering that information through this observable biased U. S. version of what leadership is. And so I think there's a lot of limitation around that. And so that's something that's on my mind day to day.

Russel Lolacher: I'm also thinking to something you mentioned earlier, which is the bias side of things because I can see...

Jen Hope (Kellum): Yeah.

Russel Lolacher: We'll get, say we get 20 people, we all get assessed and you notice that 18 of them are over here on this chart and there's these two other people that are different results. Maybe they're more analytical, maybe they're more, whatever.

They're outliers. I can see bias going, yeah, those guys are going to be problem. They're not like us. As opposed to going, feels like it should be more well rounded, and not look at them as outliers.

Jen Hope (Kellum): We put all of our employees on a circle, right? And we all have different points kind of like within this graph.

Our ideal is not to have it like perfectly divided. That's just generally speaking, not how that works. What we can be aware of, is that if we have folks who prefer to work in a really fast paced environment. And that is part of the bias. And we've got folks on one side and yeah, we'd love to run, at a, sprint.

And then we can have folks on the other side who prefer something a bit. slower, more methodical, we can be aware that we're going to have a bias in that direction, right? And these folks over here, the value that they bring is slowing us down. Is the, methodical approach that they can take. Is the questions that they're going to ask about change.

And, the focus that they may have on the team members when this folk, this group, maybe like I'm only focused on the task. And so what we can do is if we're looking at the collective, we have the insight to say we, we, could be over indexed here. And what we can do about it is really lean on the folks and not that it's their job, but have an awareness that like, if, if those folk, if those voices are, not as heard as they could be, should be then, we have a role to adapt, right? These, fast pacers have, the work to do, to adapt. Does that how's that, sit you?

Russel Lolacher: It does. It's making me think about how we can set ourselves up for success before we even take these assessments. So say before you even come into an organization, what are you hoping they've, an organization has done before you walk through that door?

Jen Hope (Kellum): I think what we can know are some of those kind of general descriptors or tendencies, I guess, is how I would say it that say, this is a fast moving organization. And we know that, and we are looking intentionally to bring in some folks who understand, that while we are this is, how we are today. This is what we aspire to be. And we're putting effort into that.

And we are intentionally working on X, Y topic, right? We're, we know this about ourselves and we're, hoping to, make shifts in that area. I think when you start like, I mean, okay I'll, apply this to the dating world for just a moment. If we go into the dating world and we're like, we have no red flags, We definitely have red flags. And the red flag in that starting point is we have, we don't have the self awareness to know the stuff that's going to get in our way versus we show up and we're like, okay here are the things that I've learned in therapy with a coach and my own reading.

And these are the ways that I've kind of messed up in my previous relationships. So the parts of it that were my responsibility. To me, that's the relationship I'm looking for is the person who can show up and say like here's my BS like, and I'm pretty clear on it and I know how, how that might affect a partner and a relationship. Quite similar to me if, if I hear an organization that's telling me we know some of the things that we can do better that's a, second date.

Russel Lolacher: I love that you tied it back to relationships considering the name of the podcast. So it's, about every, I get it. I'm full circle, Jen. Really appreciate that. I, and it comes back to the very first thing we did here, which is defining things because you can't come in here and go, we haven't defined success. We haven't even told you what leadership means. If we haven't got that we're singing from the same song sheet. Or defining what success even looks like before we do a thing, I think that's a big red flag for, not getting, you don't know what success looks like if you don't define it ahead of time.

Jen Hope (Kellum): For sure. For sure.

Russel Lolacher: Jen, the last question, I've loved this conversation. The last question I have to ask, which is what's one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Jen Hope (Kellum): I would say that, that idea of we all have limitations and being in a place where we can find The acceptance and the kindness for ourself to say these are not, these are flaws that also make the thing that we do so amazing. Right? There's going to be the way that we work and, all of the benefit that brings and, that's to be celebrated because on the flip side of all of these things that could potentially get in our way are all of our gifts.

They're just our gifts overextended, right? And so what we're doing and what we do when we build out a skill set and look at some of this information is give us more flexibility is give us a screwdriver and a hammer and, and a set of wrenches in addition. And so looking at this through the eyes of, of a, really generous inner world.

I is what I would, is what I would say. A great, starting point.

Russel Lolacher: That is Jen Hope. She's a leadership assessment expert, leadership, and business development coach, and she has just shared a couple of truth bombs for us today. Thank you so much, Jen.

Jen Hope (Kellum): Thank you.