EP 74 // Reflections for Conscious Leaders

Ep 74

Taking time to reflect is essential to being a conscious leader and moving forward effectively. In this episode, your host Akua dives deeper into how founders and leaders can reflect, what specifically to consider when reflecting, and how to make the most of the people around them who can help get them to the next level. 

If you're wondering how to use reflection to surround yourself with inspiration, innovation, and the best people, this episode is for you. Akua talks about diversity and inclusion, how to create an environment of psychological safety at work, and why hiring people with differing personalities, beliefs, and experiences is key.

Importantly, listeners will discover how to take their reflection sessions (or "headspace sessions") and make them actionable in the workplace. 

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What's Covered in this Episode About Conscious Leadership

  • It's essential for leaders and founders to create time to reflect on how they will do things differently moving forward.
  • Conscious leaders recognize their biases and build systems and processes to check themselves. They recognize that diversity challenges them and helps them grow.
  • Learn the three dimensions of diversity all conscious leaders should reflect on and what to keep in mind when it comes to making the most of your team.
  • Get an actionable 3-step process to make it easier to engage and share with your team and create a psychologically safe work environment. 
  • Akua shares her Power of Introductions philosophy and how it can help keep you from making assumptions about co-workers.

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Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "You have to create time to reflect on how you're going to do things differently. You have to create time and honour it to reflect on how are you going to effectively use your team, your stakeholders and your network." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • “"We're all biased, I'm biased, and we discriminate. And I think that a conscious leader accepts this. They then build systems, processes, checklists, mental models, and also have people around them to check them. - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • "Naturally, we try to surround ourselves or we are drawn to like minded people, we surround ourselves with people who are like us, whether it's you know, physically, like us superficially, like us, maybe sound like us, we see ourselves in them, we think they think like us, and a part of it is is that psychologically we like to be liked." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Mentioned in Reflections for Conscious Leaders

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

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Here’s the transcript for episode 74 about Reflections for Conscious Leaders

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 00:00 If you listen to last week's episode, you're probably thinking so what can I do with that reflection time? What would help me get to the next level? How can I go from beyond here and now and that's what this episode is all about. We're going to dive a little bit deeper into some of the things that you can reflect on. And one of the things that conscious leaders do really well is that they make the most of the people that are going to help them get to the next level, because you cannot and should not do it all by yourself. Hello, and welcome to the open door conversations podcast. My name is a Korea Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and Akua. I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised learning and organisational development facilitator, speaker and former startup executive. And I am so excited because this year I'm celebrating five years of working for myself five years of supporting leaders. And I am so grateful because I've had the opportunity to partner with amazing organisations, from hydro startups to multinational brands all around the world. In 2022. Alone, I serve over 600 Yes, over 600 leaders around the world. And in this podcast, you will have the opportunity to learn my three step leadership framework. I actually break it down in Episode 71. I use this framework with my high achieving and entrepreneurial minded clients that are juggling a million responsibilities so they can easily build wealth. This three step framework is going to teach you how to leverage your innate personality to learn how to prioritise and maximise not just your time, but also your money. You don't have to work harder or turn into someone else. To get more done. Let's tune into this week's episode. Hello, and welcome to this week's open door conversations podcast episode. I'm really excited to dive in today's episode, today's topic, it was inspired by a LinkedIn audio event I held a few weeks ago, I'll make sure I actually linked that in the show notes. If you want a little bit more context, I'll be referring to that episode and sharing some bits and pieces in this episode as well. But what I just wanted to start off with was just reminding you that you have to create time to reflect on how you're going to do things differently. You have to create time and honour it to reflect on how are you going to effectively use your team, your stakeholders and your network. And I think this topic is so important because you want to make sure that you're surrounding yourself with new ideas, inspiration, innovation, the best people, if you want to be more efficient, this topic that we're talking about today, it's something that you need to take very seriously. And so the question that I want to answer, the question that I keep getting from a lot of the leaders that I support is how can I be more inclusive? How can I create that psychological safety. And that's really what we're going to dive in today. And using that conversation, that LinkedIn audio event, I think as a starting point, because I think that the conversation that we had was such an important approach to thinking about how to create a safe space about how to create that psychological safety and not getting stuck into some of the elements that a lot of times we might focus on. So beyond the capitalist ideas of diversity and inclusion being a driver of profits, or growth, I think it's so important for us to really reflect on the people we're surrounding ourselves with and how we're using them. And one of the reasons why I think this is important is that research shows that naturally, we try to surround ourselves or we are drawn to like minded people, we surround ourselves with people who are like us, whether it's you know, physically, like us superficially, like us, maybe sound like us, we see ourselves in them, we think they think like us, and a part of it is is that psychologically we like to be liked. And we assume that someone who has some things in common with us is more like us, and so we don't want to be rejected. Right. And this also, I think, is something that we also see in the workplace as well. We see people you know, that tend to choose people that you know, reinforce them reinforce their beliefs reinforce their worldview, because that's easy, and we don't like doing hard things a lot of times and so I think conscious leaders go out of their way to do hard things go out of their way to make sure they're not just hiring yes people and they don't just want people that look like them sound like them have Exactly, are very similar backgrounds to them. And they recognise that they tend to maybe attract similar people. And what happens is, if you do that you're going to miss out on great talent, you're going to miss out on amazing partners, collaborators, you might miss out on contexts that are really important. So depending on what you're doing, what you're building, having different communities support you or be involved in what you're creating those different contexts is, can be very interesting. And I think very helpful as well, depending on what you're looking to build. I also think an important component of this is also making sure that you're being challenged, and you're able to grow, I know, that's something that's important to me. And so that also might be based on how I was raised. So I was raised in very multicultural, very diverse environments. And so that's something that I really value. And so when I think about, you know, building a team, or having people support me, I want them to be very different from me, because I want them to challenge me, and to see things from a different perspective, because I know, because I've been, you know, in this body for over 30 years and reflecting, you know, in a certain way, or have tried to, you know, take on different perspectives and different filters. But ultimately, I still have a particular way in which I show up in a particular way I think about things. So I want to be challenged, I want to grow in different areas. And that's why I hire experts and have people support me in different ways. And when I was running a team or building a team, I always wanted people who complimented me who were different from me, because I was very much aware of the specific things that I wasn't very good at the types of people that I tended to repel. And I wanted to hire people that could bring those clients and those customers in. So the long and short of it is. And this might be hard for some of you listening to this, especially those of you who are high achieving, have maybe done amazing things all around the world and maybe travelled all over the world. And I put myself in that bucket. But we're all biassed, I'm biassed, and we discriminate. And I think that a conscious leader accepts this. They then build systems, processes, checklists, mental models, and also have people around them to check them, right. But the first step is to acknowledge and recognise that this is what we do. The first step is really to cultivate your self awareness around this. And so what I've done is I've shared some resources in the show notes around common biases and beliefs that sometimes limit leaders, you can find them once again in the show notes. And then what I wanted to get into, and this is once again, based on that LinkedIn audio live conversation that I had with one of my colleagues, I want to get into the different dimensions of diversity. Because I think once again, a lot of us might be in environments where people look like us, maybe people sound like us, to some extent, we have similar backgrounds. I'm not in one of those environments, right, I tend to stick in most environments I go in, and it's my parents fault. I blame them, because they're from two different continents, and I grew up in different places as well. So it's their fault. But this is something I think that's really important for you to keep in mind. And once again, I will link that conversation in the show notes, if you want to take a listen to it. And you want to understand sort of where that conversation came from. So I think that these elements will be especially helpful. Once again, if you find that you're in a background where people look like you sound like you. And just to keep in mind that that might not be such a good thing. All right, so the three elements, the three dimensions, diversity that we don't always keep in mind, but we should, especially if we want to answer that question of how to make the most of our stakeholders how to make the most of our team, how can we create that inclusive environment? How can we have that psychological safety that I think all conscious leaders are constantly thinking about. And the first I mentioned, and this might sound very, you know, very simple, but it's not something that we always create space for. But that personality, right, that is one dimension of diversity, and we don't always consider it. And actually recently, I had a client that was talking about getting feedback, that she didn't have the right personality to get to the next level, and just really recognising that there is no one leadership personality, and that the way in which we show up in different environments really shifts because we are context based animals. And we will shift whether or not we're aware of it based on the context that we're in. But I think it's really troubling when someone says that there's a specific type of personality for leadership, there might be specific personalities that we tend to see within specific organisations, because they have a specific culture a lot of times, but once again, that might not be a good thing. And everyone has, you know, amazing things they can contribute, whether or not they're showing up and I have this in quotes, you can't see me but I'm saying in quotes, you know, they're showing up in the stereotypical way that leaders within that company show up. So that's, that's a really key thing to keep in mind about this dimension of personality. And the way I typically see it play out and this is something I've seen myself, a lot of my clients talk about this to some extent they don't maybe use the exact same language. So I'm paraphrasing for some of them. And this is something I also see when I'm doing my workshops, especially talking about communication. But they'll typically talk about it from the perspective of having a personality that's more introverted or extroverted. And introversion and extraversion is defined in many different ways. And so the first thing, of course to do is to make sure that everyone's on the same page with that definition of introversion and extraversion. And that there are systems once again in place to make sure that everyone gets to contribute, and that there's different modes and methods for people to contribute to a conversation, a quick way to do that might be giving people the opportunity to maybe shared notes prior to the conversation, just sharing the agenda in advance can help with that. And maybe people can share notes, there might be forums where people can share things anonymously, if that makes sense. And the number of people attending the meeting where there can be, you know, anonymous it, I hope I'm saying that right, where people will come across as being anonymous, that they do share their perspective. And then of course, people also contributing verbally, if that makes sense. And there's time for it. But that was a long, a long introduction to this dimension. But it's just recognising that our personality affects how we show up in the world, you know, in the workplace, our interactions with one another, our likes our preferences, and most importantly, as I refer to introversion and extraversion, because the way I define it has to do with where we get energy. And just really recognising that, once again, as a leader, we need to make sure that we're incorporating all personalities, we're incorporating all people, and that personalities do Shift, they do evolve. And a lot of times it's based on how we were incentivized, and what we think works in different situations. So that's the first dimension of diversity that we need to consider. And as a conscious leader, we need to make sure that we are not excluding any personalities. And we need to think critically and use our headspace to make sure that we are creating inclusive environments, and that psychologically safe that psychological safety is going to come when people feel comfortable showing up as themselves. And it's through leveraging different methods and modes, where that's going to be even easier. The second dimension of diversity that was mentioned within this conversation is biological. And this is so important for us to keep in mind, because this is typically where we see a lot of bias, especially on unconscious bias. And these are things that we have no control over, right. So we might have just been born with, you know, specific disabilities, we don't have control over that we don't have control over who we are born to, we don't have control over our race, or perceived race, because I do think that's also a social construct, I'm not going to go down that rabbit hole, but how we're perceived in terms of our even our gender, and all those things, those are all biological, we don't have control over them, right, we also don't have control over the accent that we end up with, unless we decide at a later date to work with, you know, a speech coach to help us change how we sound. But this is where we really see a lot of discrimination. And so it's really important for us to recognise that this biological dimension is outside of our natural control, we don't have control over a lot of things. And so it's really important that we create the space and time to reflect on how we're showing up in relation to this dimension, and how we're engaging with others in relation to this dimension. Because, you know, as I mentioned before, this is typically where we see a lot of bias, a lot of times it's unconscious, but this is where we tend to see a lot of bias. And so this is where, you know, we should be asking ourselves, am I engaging with that employee differently because of their gender? Right? Am I you know, attaching certain assumptions or stories to that human being because of what I perceive as, you know, their their abilities and capabilities without actually asking questions and getting curious. Alright, so that's the second dimension of diversity. The second thing that we should keep in mind. And you know, a lot of times we don't, because we just jumped to conclusions about a person's competence about a person's ability about these superficial traits, such as I mentioned before, gender accents, the languages they speak, whether or not we think that they're able to do certain things. All right, the last one that I wanted to share on the last one that was also shared in this conversation that once again, I linked in the show notes, is based on our experiences. So the dimension of sort of just experiences are experiential. And so recognising that our experiences also shaped our worldview, and how we interact with the world. And I thought this was such a really great point, my co hosts Angie brought up and this is something that we don't think that much about, but this is also from that perspective of sort of generational, probably that generational dimension as well. So the example that she gave was that all of us have gone through a pandemic and because we've gone through a pandemic, and you know, we have a lot of times access to maybe some of the same mass media the same information. The way in which we look at the world is definitely going to be filtered. through that lens of having gone through a pandemic. So I have a quick example of this, it's probably not the best example. But I was having a conversation with someone, and I was talking about how I forgotten how to be sick, because, you know, we sort of all jumped to these conclusions about, oh, I don't feel well, maybe I have, you know, COVID. And this is an issue, right? But recognising that naturally, as human beings, we get sick all the time, it's what we do as human beings, right. But because we've gone through this pandemic, or we're still in this pandemic, however you choose to see it, you know, when people get sick, we kind of like freak out, or I find that some of the people around me freak out and sort of jump to these conclusions. And so the way in which we filter things in this world is that sick bat must do something quick, you know, isolate, blah, blah, right, we sort of just, you know, jump to these things. And it's, you know, probably good to make sure you're not around other people. But at the same time, we might just be sort of jumping to these conclusions that aren't helpful for anyone. So that's just a quick example, the pandemic, that's definitely going to be something that's in the back of everyone's mind, even as we move forward. And so how we make decisions, how we engage with others is definitely going to be different because of that, as well. So that's just something to keep in mind. In terms of other experiences, it could be smaller groups that have experienced specific things within, you know, countries, so specific, potentially, like ethnic groups, specific genders, right, could have experienced certain things. And that means that the way in which they engage with the world and the things that we might need to consider about them to create that psychological safety might be different as well. So just some thoughts as you have that reflection period, right, that you've hopefully marked out in your calendar, that's something that you can keep in mind. And also a quick question, if you want me to talk a little bit more specifically about how to honour that time, and really, you know, create that time, let me know, and I can actually do a podcast episode about that as well. And I maybe have some other resources I can pull on to share about creating that time and honouring that time. But I've gone off on a tangent. So let's get back into making this a little bit more tangible. So I've talked about, I think, three dimensions that all conscious leadership, keep in mind to create that inclusive environment to create that psychological safety. Let's in this episode, by making it just a little bit more actionable, and thinking about what we can do next. Because ultimately, right, I am a coach, and we're constantly supporting our clients to think about the future and what they can do better moving forward. So one, during one of your reflection headspace headspace sessions, I really would recommend that you reflect on these dimensions are these things that you consider are these things that you've even considered about yourself. And I would then number to suggest that you share this information, you share these preferences, these things that you've learned about yourself, with your different stakeholders, with your team, if it makes sense. And I think that can be very helpful, once again, to make it easier for you to engage and make it easier for you to learn about members of your team. Because as you share, they hopefully will also share as well, because you would have hopefully created a bubble, that psychological safety where they see that, hey, this is something that my leaders reflecting on, I'd love to reflect on this as well, because I think it will help everyone have a better understanding of how best to engage with me. All right, beyond sharing this information with your stakeholders, I also think it's important for you to check in to see if whatever comes up for you in terms of stories related to these three dimensions of personality, biological, and experiential, whether or not they still serve you, right. So if you recognise that there's specific stories or assumptions or opinions that come up, that aren't really helpful, you know, are these useful to keep in mind are these things I want to keep in mind as I engage with others. So it's also important that you check in, maybe you check in actually before you share it with others. So this might be number two. So number one, right, use these reflection sessions that you have to reflect on these dimensions. Number two, check in to see if they still serve you. And then number three, share this information with others. All right. And the last one I have on here is you know, just to make this tangible is if you are, you know, building a team, or you have a team create space for your team to also check in with each other as well. So you can do it in a one on one space, right. But you can also do it in a more group setting. And I've probably mentioned this is one of my favourite activities to run. But I do something that's called the power of introductions. And that's, you know, an activity that I think is so important because what you do is you give yourself and your team an opportunity to reintroduce themselves, because we're constantly evolving. So there's new things that we learn about ourselves. And there's things that we need to share with others to make sure they can make the most of us and that we can also make the most of ourselves. And so I think that doing your own power of introductions can be very powerful. And I just want to share just a quick little story Because a client recently mentioned that they hosted a session like this for their team, and that several members of their team realised that they were kind of avoiding each other because they thought that a member of their team prefer to working alone, right, the word that he used was, and this is obviously, something that's translated, but the word that they used was like they thought that this individual on that team was a lone wolf, and that they didn't want to engage with them, because they thought that, oh, no, this is someone who likes to work on their own, we should leave them alone. And so through having a conversation of sort of reintroducing themselves and talking about their preferences, and what did what they needed in order to be successful, they learned that that wasn't the case. And so now, right, the team is a lot more aligned, they know how to engage with each other, and they're more open to engage with each other because they've had this conversation, right, because they misinterpret someone's they misinterpreted someone's personality. And right now they're going to have more opportunities to collaborate, and to come up with great ideas and to problem solve. Alright, so that's just one quick example of how this can work of how you can really use that time that you've set aside to reflect to actually take action, right. So a bit of it is, you know, slowing down a bit to potentially speed up in the long run. So I hope this conversation was helpful. I'd love to hear from you. What are you taking away from this conversation? What did I miss? Where should I dive a little bit deeper? Let me know. But as always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen. I hope that you stay safe, and stay sane. Thank you so much for listening to this week's episode, please share this episode with someone who can benefit from its contents. If you found this episode helpful, I want to ask you to leave a review. This makes it easier for other people to find my podcast and also allows me to bring on even bigger guests, and even more fascinating stories. Thank you so much for listening again. Stay safe and stay sane


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