"Just by nature of a great story, you gain empathy. And neurologically, oxytocin is released in the brain, which is the bonding chemical, the feel-good chemical. The more oxytocin that's released, the more trust is built between people."
In this episode
In episode #59, Karen Eber dives into the science of storytelling, how it can shape culture and why great leaders need to understand the power of a great story.
Karen is a passionate leader with over 20 years of experience at companies like HP, Deloitte, and General Electric – where she held positions such as Head of Culture, Chief Learning Officer, and Head of Leadership Development. Today, Karen is the CEO at Eber Leadership Group.
In this episode, Karen explains why most new managers default to the management style that makes them feel comfortable instead of taking into consideration what their team may need.
Tune in to hear how we can become more consistent leaders through self-reflection… and how to give people meaningful recognition at work.
Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.
Managers that believe in you
Storytelling is a skill
The science of storytelling
Make time for reflection
More calories, not more time
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- Watch Karen’s TED Talk
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 00:05
Karen, welcome to the show.
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 00:25
Thank you, happy to be here.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 00:32
I’m very excited to dig in with you. You’ve had a 20 plus year leadership career in a bunch of very well-known companies actually as Head of Culture and Head of Leadership Development at companies like HP, Deloitte, General Electric, and today you’re a CEO at Eber Leadership Group. But before we dive in, I wanted to kind of rewind and ask you about you know, in your history in your career, has there been a most favorable or memorable boss and why?
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 03:03
I probably have two answers. The first one is now because it’s me. So I can blame or celebrate my boss today. But when I think back to my corporate, there was a person that created a little specifically for me and for my strengths. And it was the best situation because she saw a need in helping an organization shape culture that was facing some real challenges. And she saw that I could do it and came to me and said, I want to build this for you and give you the runway to make this happen. And what a vote of confidence for I see this in you and I believe in you. And let’s go do great things. So that was pretty amazing. Oh, that’s amazing. Amazing into was that right off the bat, or, you know, when you first started in that position, I had been in other positions. And he and she came to me and said, I think we have this need and I would love for you. Alright, so she had done me and I had been in the company for a few years. Okay. Yeah, no, that’s awesome. And so when did you first start leading a team and what were some of the early mistakes that you might have made? I started in graduate school. I went to graduate school right after I finished my undergrad and your pipe in teamwork is there. And I ended up in charge of this team with people that were I was my parent’s age. And so I struggled with a lot of the things I think people normally do of like managing it to detail the level or trying to tell people what to do and Miss harnessing where they’re at their best or understanding how to give them the space to flourish. And fortunately, they told me, which is such a gift, right, right off. They came to me and said no, no, let’s Talk about different ways to do this, or this isn’t working for me. And I was able to learn and make shifts and recognize weaving isn’t about what’s most comfortable for you. It’s about what is best for you, your employees, and your teams.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 04:49
How long did it take for you to realize that or for the team, to bring that up?
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 05:19
It was pretty immediate in different settings, you know, in, in the graduate school projects, you’re constantly communicating and looking at things and talking about what works and doesn’t work. And there’s a little bit of freedom and having some blunt conversations. So I think that was helpful. Early in my career. I can think of a situation where I was coaching this team of men that were internationally dispersed, and they were going to develop training for the organization, they were technical experts. And this one person had put together something that was kind of like off-color, it wasn’t appropriate humor, and he just wasn’t resonating. And I was nervous to give him the feedback. So I did what I thought was right at the time, I sat down and I wrote a thoughtful email that reviewed the instruction and pointed out different suggestions for how to do it and cautioned him on his humor and said, I don’t necessarily think this is going to come across the way you intend. And I sent it to him in an email, which of course now like cringe and thing, like, why did you do that? But I did it because I was trying to approach it in the way that was most comfortable for me. After all, I was nervous about the conversation. I didn’t want to stop to think what does he need? What is he gonna hear? About five seconds after I press send my phone rings? And it is this man, Michael calling me? And I said, You know, I know that. I just sent you a message. I don’t have time to talk right now. But we’re gonna be talking tomorrow. We’ve got time scheduled. I’ll talk to you then. And as I’m in the process of saying that he hangs up on me, whoa. And so my instinct at the moment was like, What a jerk? Why would you do that? That’s so awful. And then when I stepped away, I realized, No, I was in the wrong there because I approach this differently. So I have been fortunate through reflection, and through real-time, things like people hang up on me to recognize like, oh, there’s different ways to do this. And maybe you want to rethink how you approach it.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 07:25
Wow, what an incredible story like that. That is super interesting. So if we were to kind of like rewind, how would you have it sounds like you would have just saved it for the conversation. But how might you have come to that realization?
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 07:37
If he hadn’t hung up on me?
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 07:39
Well, no, no, I mean, so for example, I mean, now you understand that you know, maybe we should have waited for the conversation. But I’m just thinking like, what kind of questions? Why should one ask of themselves before communicating feedback like that? So that like, maybe you do it right from the get-go?
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 07:57
Yeah, I mean, I think the thing about feedback is, we never want to hurt someone’s feelings. And feedback shouldn’t be about the person, it should be about the work. It’s easy to offer suggestions on the work, but we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. And we tend to then think about, like, how do I do this in a way that is the least awkward, I find so many leaders avoid conversations, they don’t know where they’re going to go, be they want to have some problems, they want to have ways to navigate it. And without that, they default to what feels most comfortable for them. So I think the first thing to do in any moment where you have to give feedback is recognized like, what does this person need to hear? And how do I frame it as my experience of their behavior, or action or project, or whatever this specific thing is? How do you think about what they need and how do I deliver it in the most helpful way? I think we often think of it Oh, how am I going to purchase conversation instead of thinking of the other person? So if you start there, and you start to think about what they need, and how you can unwind from it that leads to a more successful conversation?
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 09:06
Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense in this case, like, what did this person need? What domost helpfullysubline did you think?
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 09:13
Quite a bit. In the end, he ended up moving off the project, because of all the concerns that I think if I had approached him differently, and said, You know, I want you to be successful here. And I think that what you’re intending isn’t how people are experiencing you. So let’s talk about how we can make some shifts so that you can accomplish what you’re trying to do. I think if I showed up more on his side, instead of the sublinethat I created, it could have been a different place. Or I could have just gone and been curious and say hey, I looked at your instruction. Tell me what you’re intending. Tell me what you want that experience to be. And then as he talks about it, if I have a different perspective or experience, I could say well, that’s interesting because that’s not where I went. First curiosity. See, and empathy are two really powerful ways to enter a conversation because curiosity is being open, and being open to whatever your assumptions are might be wrong. And empathy is just having that appreciation for people as humans, and that we all have something to offer. And most people are coming to work trying to do a good job, not trying to be a jerk, not trying to be mean. And so you can detangle yourself from the heavy emotions and be in that spot. It can be really rich conversations. But you have to create that safe environment.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 10:36
Yeah, I mean, what a night and day difference between like, you know, first approach and second approach, the second approach is like, very Supermanager-esque if I say so. And so it’s interesting, just this concept of empathy, and curiosity and just always leading with that, I think that’s an incredible lesson that one can walk away with. So a very, like a topic that you have been talking about a lot. And you have a TED talk about this, which is about storytelling. And as it relates to storytelling, you’ve said in the past that working with leaders, you found that they tend to be allergic to telling stories. Why do you think that is?
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 11:26
it’s almost the same thing as feedback. Like, I think that if you have not used storytelling or haven’t built those muscles, yourself, and you see someone do it? Well, you think that they have like, harvested this perfected story out of the ground and haven’t done anything to work on it. And that feels overwhelming and intimidating. Storytelling is a skill. And it’s one that you take ideas and fragments and prompts and you put them together to follow a formula and a structure and follow what we understand in neuroscience to engage the audience. And you can learn how to do that. And I think for so many people without understanding one, some super cool things happen to our brains. And we tell stories with empathy and trust and the impact that it has and the way the neural chemicals leave us changed. Like there’s this thought of I can’t do that, or there’s this thought that data are what make me credible, and a story is just too fluffy. And in reality, the story is what’s guiding you through to a common understanding, even with data. So it’s a little bit of skill and knowledge and a little bit of a misconception that our credibility comes from different places.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 12:45
Yeah, that’s interesting. So you and I can see that as especially in society, as data has become more and more important, I can see that people would want to use more of that versus just telling a great story. Who have you seen, like, what kind of people tend to do this well? Like? Is it a skill that people are just naturally born with? Or is this something that one can work on?
You can learn it. I’m in the process of writing a book on this very thing of like, how do you learn how to do this? Because it’s something that can become accessible? The thing to think about with the data before I answer the ways that you do this, well, when you listen to someone go through data, whether it’s Excel or PowerPoint, row by row, you are thinking like, do I trust what they’re saying, Do I trust the data? And I’ve seen so many meetings where the discussion just goes in a completely different direction, debating the source of the data, the quality of the data, the understanding of the data, and instead of getting to a discussion of what data-informed decisions do we want to make? It’s this endless debate about the thing that we think makes us credible. And what a story does is it takes you through to a common understanding of anything. And so I think people could do this, well do a couple of things, they recognize that their steps to it and that they’re not going to just do this five minutes before they have to give a presentation. I mean, they might have some in their back pocket that they’ve worked on. But that just like you spend a good bit of time working on slides or whatever you’re using to present you have to spend a bit of time working on the story. Because you have to work through the process to make sure am I building the idea and the takeaway that I want for people have I done this in a way that is gonna lean into the neuroscience and build and release tension and capture their attention. You know, have I thought through the audience I’m trying to influence and so I think it’s the people that do this, well give themselves some time to work through that and make sure they’re getting the greatest understanding but Anyone can learn this and anyone can do it.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 13:09
Yeah, I mean, sure, you’ve mentioned neuroscience a few times. Now, what is some elements are like what’s an example of something that you can do in a story that also takes advantage of neuroscience.
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 15:14
So just by nature of telling a story, if you tell a great story, meaning one that is going to build and release tension, which is going to stop the brain from anticipating and filling in gaps, and one that builds an idea, it is going to build empathy in the listener. So as you tell me a story, I’m immediately going to have more empathy for you and feel behind it toward you, because you’re sharing something, even if it’s not a personal story, there’s just we respond to vulnerability. And that’s part of what happens. And so just by nature of a great story, I gain empathy. And neurologically oxytocin is released in my brain, which is, of course, the bonding chemical, the feel-good chemical. And the more oxytocin that’s released, the more trust is built between people. There have been studies that have shown stories that ignite a good use of oxytocin lead to more trusting behaviors. So right away, if you are trying to establish psychological safety or build trust, using the story does that because we’re responding to the vulnerability or responding to the understanding, and we chemically become altered?
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 16:28
Yeah. So this is interesting. So tactically speaking, when it comes to, you know, your role as a manager, or leader? How often are you telling stories is this whenever you know, there’s a presentation and you want to get a point across? Or is this like day to day in every meeting? How often are you doing this?
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 16:49
It’s an important question because I think people feel like they’re going to overuse stories. And I’ve not come across someone that has overused stories, I see people that have overused bad stories like the uncle with the holiday table, that just tells the same story over and over, right. There are definitely company corporate business equivalent of people that are telling stories that are about themselves, and don’t factor in the audience or poorly told stories. And that’s not helpful. But apart from that, it’s really whenever you feel there’s a moment to create a better understanding. So it could be in a presentation, it could be when your business is going through a change or when you’re trying to capture our attention. When the social distancing. ago, I was working with a CEO and a multinational company that all of a sudden, of course, like many his company was now working virtually. And he was wanting to connect with them and think about, how do we keep community and spirit and culture. And so every week, I worked with him on what the communication was, and really what the story was that he was going to send an invariant each week, some weeks, they needed to talk about. Just trust, because of all the changes going on in the world. Some of it needed to be about stability, the company, and I believe that they would all have their jobs. Other weeks, it was about navigating change. So like in that case, every communication he sent had a story element to it. And it worked. I’d say it’s looking for a moment where whether it is data or an idea or a presentation, you have the opportunity to connect with your audience and build new thinking a story is a great way to do it. And it doesn’t have to be the longest story can be very short. It could be several minutes long.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 18:45
I wonder if we can dive into an example. Now it could be with this person that with this CEO that you were working with, like an example story that he told or some other situation where you’ve seen as a great story made all the difference. Is there something that comes to mind that you’ve witnessed, or, or maybe a story that you’ve told that made the difference and had like a big impact,
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 19:10
a story that keeps being told back to me which that’s always a good sign. How do you know if a story resonates is when people tell it back to you or they describe a story is the one I started the TED Talk with. And it’s about. It’s a true story. It’s about this woman Maria that goes into an elevator at work and she’s going to press the button. Her phone falls out of her hand and goes straight down the elevator shaft and falls through the floors to the basement of the building. Wow. So imagine that right? Like and it wasn’t just her phone. It was she was of a certain age where she carried a phone wallet. So it was credit cards driver’s license, her badge like she literally couldn’t leave where she was she couldn’t go to her office. She couldn’t go anywhere. And she stood frozen like what do you do? Amazingly, the phone service This three-story fall, it was an Incipio phone case, if anybody is wondering because I always fascinated after that. She pinged it on her at her, I watch and saw that it worked. So she went to the front desk to talk to the guard to try to get ideas of what’s possible. And the thing about Maria is she is this person that just knows like your birthday, and your last vacation and your favorite food and, and if you have children, like where they are in school, and it’s not because she’s this nosy person, she’s just one of these people that genuinely cares, and takes time to stop and connect with everyone. And so she goes to talk to the security guard, and he tells her, it’s going to be expensive, they have to shut down all the elevators for the building, calling a service call or get someone to go down there. And they have to charge her for it. And at this point, she’s weighing the cost of replacing driver’s license, credit cards, badge, everything phone with the cost of this price, and she said, you know, get a quote, and if it’s under $250, do it. Okay. And we I’m there. So I take her up to her office, get her in there. And as we get settled the phone rings, and it’s this guard, Ray. And he tells her, he was realizing that the elevators were due for inspection in about three weeks. And he was going to call it in that day. And part of the inspection was they were going to have to shut down all the elevators go down into the basement, and they would be able to get her phone back for free. And he wouldn’t charge her anything, which is amazing. He did not have to do that. I mean, he would have helped anybody. But he went above and beyond because she’s this person that would stop every day and talk to him. Whereas most people would barely do the polite wave. She knew all about him because she genuinely cared. So the same Davis happens. I’m reading this article in The New York Times about Walter Bensinger, who is the CEO of Charles Schwab. And he’s describing a lesson that he learned in his career, his last exam of his university and career he’s going in 4.0 average business class expecting to ace that gets in there. And the instructor says on your piece of paper is your exam, go ahead and turn it over. When they do the papers blank. And they’re all looking around, like what is going on. And the instructor says I’ve taught you everything that you need to know about business except this most important thing, what is the name of the person that cleaned this room. And he failed the exam he had seen her he had, you know, exchanged pleasantries with her, but he never asked her name. And he said her name was Donnie. And he vowed to know her, he vowed to know all the daddies in his life going forward. And he always did. And told this story when I was working at General Electric is an example of as leaders, people want to feel seen, they want to feel undervalued. And the most important thing you can do as a leader is just helping people feel seen and connect with them, costs nothing but time and attention. And the impact of that is so powerful. And three connects with people, I think because we can all imagine dropping our phone. And we can imagine, there are bodies in our life that we should know, and we perhaps don’t know, or we did take the time to know. So, I have just found that people respond to that story. Because even if that hasn’t happened to them, they see themselves in it.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 23:38
Yeah, I mean, what an incredible story, you had me, you know, anticipating what would happen next, and felt probably all of them, you know, the the the mental sense, you know, all the things that you were talking about the oxytocin and everything else. And so I guess one question that I have is, like, let’s, let’s think about, like a practical example of this. So say you had a leader that was, you know, very focused on, you know, the day to day and the operations and say, wasn’t very empathetic, and like, maybe didn’t know all the different people in the organization and like, people felt unseen, and, and so forth. I would imagine if, if we went to such a leader and said that, hey, you know, you’re not doing a great job of, you know, recognizing or seeing people or, and so on so far, I would imagine that person would probably be very defensive, or, you know, most people would be defensive, if, if, if we told that to them.
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 24:38
Yeah. Or if you say, here’s the research of, you know, 73% of engagement comes from interactions or something like that, like, you can see these things, but you potentially risk them not remembering or not connecting with it. But what this story does is it shows you and it doesn’t tell you and it lets you put your meaning I’m there, because I have my idea that I want to build when I’m telling the story. But as the audience, you’re going to have your understanding based on your own experiences and your reflection as you’re listening to it, of what that means for you and what you want to do.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 25:14
Yeah. So you have been, you know, General Electric was 90,000 employees. I mean, you know, this is a very large company, and you were General Electric’s Head of Culture. I mean, you’ve worked with people from all different cultures everywhere. Do you find that when it comes to storytelling? Are we just generally not as good as it at in North America? I find that like, maybe we have a more direct culture, is that a factor at all? Or do you find that in other cultures, they lean more heavily on stories,
I think most people avoid it or have an opportunity to use it more. And it doesn’t matter where people are in the world, or the generation they come from, or how they identify, what their pronouns are, like the stories resonate, even if you’ve never experienced it, I told a story about a service dog when I was at General Electric because part of how I tried to shape culture for the business I always in was using storytelling, for all the reasons we said to reinforce what’s valued and let people make their own decisions. You’re now sharing a story about a service dog. And I started getting mail from all over the world, from people I’ve never met before sending me photos of their dogs and connecting with it, I don’t find that anyone region is better or worse at it. I mean, there are different levels of comfort and vulnerability in different cultures. And whether that impacts the story, they tell her if they use a personal story, but it’s more I think, just we are drilled on skills that feel like project management, or budgeting or things that are harder skills, and things that get to that influence of communication just aren’t taught as frequently.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 27:06
[AD BREAK BEGINS] Hey, there. Just a quick note, before we move on to the next part, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably already doing one on one meetings. But here’s the thing, we all know that one on one meetings are the most powerful, but at the same time, the most misunderstood concept in practice and management. That’s why we’ve spent over a year compiling the best information, the best expert advice into this beautifully designed 90 Plus page ebook. Now, don’t worry, it’s not a single-spaced font, you know, lots of text, there’s a lot of pictures. It’s nice, easily consumable information, we spent so much time building it. And the great news is that it’s completely free. So head on over to fellow dot app slash blogs to download the definitive guide on one on ones. It’s there for you. We hope you enjoy it. And let us know what you think. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview. [AD BREAK ENDS] So this is very interesting, you know, as it relates to culture because I find that I mean, one of the things that you said just earlier was that I think it’s a good story because many people have told it back to me. And I wondered that you know, that virality of stories in general, can you help define culture so you know, things, maybe events that happened or, like were their stories, for example, that other stories that it may be the leadership of General Electric or yourself used to cement certain values or principles throughout the company,
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 28:43
I think a story that anyone can tell. And it’s so powerful when you do are the stories of great in any company. And what I mean by that is the heroes in the company, there’s always the folklore stories of the people that did amazing things were the projects that achieved amazing things. But even down to your people, leader level, the stories of what a great people leader is and what they’re doing and what that looks like, you know, every time I’ve done work with a team, at some point, the leader will pull me aside and they’ll say, you do a lot of work with teams, how am I doing? How are we doing? Like, how me understand compared to great what that looks like. And so cultures can reinforce what is valued by telling stories about what great leaders do about what great behaviors are about the different values that you’re upholding? The values that are in your lobby are not what an employee experiences day today, it’s the day-to-day experience of them that you share through stories that give a good flavor of what the culture is in a company. So if you think all the way starting with a job interview both the candidate Stories questions like Tell me about a time you that’s all about a story. But candidates should also be asking questions to understand the culture and what is your culture? Like here? I mean, questions like asking the hiring manager, tell me about a time someone changed their mind? Because then you start to see Well, do you? Do you have people change your mind? And what does that look like? And so I think little moments like that can be powerful stories that demonstrate what is valued. And that can be done anywhere, anytime.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 30:31
That’s super powerful. And it sets the bar because you’re right, like, how do you define, say, what quality means or excellent service means or, you know, a great effort, like, how do you define these things? But you’re right, that stories make sense. And they can be passed on from team to team, you know, year over year. And, and certainly like, and it’s very interesting, just the notion of like, as someone going into a job interview, asking the hiring manager to tell them a story of, you know, when something happened, like when their mind was changed. That’s super interesting. One thing that I did want to ask you about is you have a quote, where you say, there are two types of leaders, leaders that lead because of the position they hold, and people who are leaders because others choose to follow them. And so that’s interesting. And, you know, as I read it, it is it. I mean, it strikes me as being something very, very true. And it really, truly is that way. I guess my question is, it sounds like, you know if you’re the second type of leader, that’s a very special place to be. So in your experience, and like in your observations and learnings, how do people become more of The second type of leader?
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 31:57
Yeah, it’s some that we all choose to follow different people in different moments. And I think the places where you tend to identify with someone and choose to follow them are because you are inspired by them, or you feel aligned by values. And the moments where you choose not to follow someone is often you see some demonstration of values that you’re like, Hmm, I don’t like that. And so really, the leaders that become the one that others want and choose to follow are consistent in their behavior and their values. There was research done on the worst kind of leader. And the worst kind of leader isn’t the meanest leader, or the leader that yells and screams, the worst kind of leader is actually the inconsistent leader. And it actually goes back to neuroscience, because our brains can’t rest, we don’t know which version of the leader is going to show up that day, we have the meeting to plan for the meeting. And we have, okay, we’re going to try this. And if this happens, we’re going to switch to this plan. And all the energy goes to anticipating how the work is done instead of just doing the work. And that is what’s going to lead to burnout and exhaustion and all of that inconsistency. So leaders that people choose to follow are consistent, and the way they show up each day makes it easier for the people to know what to expect to lean into that. And there are values there most helpfully that they just identify and connect with them and are inspired by.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 33:28
Yeah, consistency. You’re right, as you say it, it makes a lot of sense that consistency is very important. So my question is, how do you become more consistent?
First is self-awareness, right? One of the biggest challenges I find that leaders have is they just don’t build time into their weeks or, or schedules to stop and reflect on what has happened this past week, this past month, this past quarter? What have I learned? What do I want to do differently? You know, what are some of the patterns I’m seeing? And when you build that in, whether that’s on a walk, or whether that’s time looking out the window, or whether that’s through conversation with others? Like that’s where you start to realize, am I showing up consistently? Am I demonstrating what I want? am I spending time in the most valuable places? The reflection and setting intentions for what does it look like? When I am demonstrating values? What would my employees and teams experience like those two things that reflecting and setting intentions for how you want to spend the time are the two most powerful things and so if you’re not in the habit of doing it, keep the block a little bit more time upfront because you have more to think through. But once you get in the habit of that you can just block you know, 1015 minutes every Friday or whatever time each week to think through that and think from the past week and set your intentions going forward.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 34:58
So is that the sort of that I mean, you recommend to leaders that you work with. So, you know, for people to very explicitly defining values or things, the way that they show up and like, does everybody need to have their value system very explicitly written?
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 35:19
I don’t know, I don’t believe so. But you have to understand what is important to you. So do you need a list of whatever words are most meaningful to you? And here’s my list of values. No, but you should have a good idea of what am I? What am I doing? Well, where am I challenged? What are my employees experiencing? What do I want them to experience? And so it’s kind of the same. Ask yourself these questions as situational things of what do you want that day-to-day to look like? Or if you zoom out, not just day to day, but what do I what career experience do I want employees to have? And think about what that is, that is super helpful. And so that’s a lot of where we have to help leaders pause and step back and think about what they want that to be.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 36:06
Yeah, that’s super interesting, like having that list of questions that you should ask yourself, say, every Friday. And it allows you to get out of the day-to-day and really maybe take a holistic view of how people experience your leadership and if that’s consistent with what you want it to be. I think that makes a lot of sense. Speaking of taking a step back, and taking that holistic view, one of the things that I think that we all suffer from is, you know, when you’re in the day today, and you’re working with a lot of people, very often, you sometimes I think people underestimate the power of describing other people’s value to them. And so this is something that I think you care deeply about. And my question is like, what are some ways that we can be better at this? Or what are some practices we can employ, to make sure that others around us do understand their value and our appreciation of them?
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 37:17
Let’s start first by asking the people around you what meaningful recognition looks like. Because sometimes we want to communicate value and recognition. And we do it through what is meaningful to us. And then it falls flat because that’s not what’s meaningful to the person. Some people want the spotlight and the big billboard attention, and other people want the thoughtful email or conversation. So I would start first with curiosity about what is meaningful to you and ask some questions like, what is your best day at work look like? And, you know, what do you what are the things that drain your energy and have a conversation where you get to know the person and in that start to share? Here’s what I have experienced that I value? How do we help you do more of that? One thing I think, that many people are not great at doing is pointing out like, loved what you did at this moment in this meeting, that here’s the impact that had How do we do that more often? or hear you do this so well. We don’t always tell people what we think they’re great at or what we value, because we assume they know. And those are the comments that make our days. So the making sure that you understand what’s important to the person, you get curious about what they enjoy, and what they’re interested in and starting to share as a habit and set a reminder in your schedule to regularly go and have these conversations and tell people what they’re doing is so powerful. And their specific wording that matters. Instead of saying, I think you’re a great storyteller, say you’re a great storyteller. the receiving end of that is different. So I think you’re a great interviewer versus you’re a great interviewer feels different on the receiving end. And so don’t qualify it just share your experience of them.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 39:11
Yeah, I think that that is very interesting. And being on the receiving end of that you’re right, they do land differently. And, and I love this other thing, this question that you added on to it, which was how do we get you to do more of that? And I think the question allows, I think both parties to think about like, hey, this could be a strength and like how do we make sure that the person can utilize that more at work? And I think that’s a very productive conversation to have.
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 39:48
If you’re on the receiving end of like, what is your best day at work, and how do we create more of them for you, who doesn’t want to have that conversation versus you know, we tend to focus all on feedback and fixing or, or things we want to see different going forward. But there’s also a lot of how do you lean into strengths and bring them forward more often? And those are probably conversations we don’t have enough of.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 40:12
Yeah, Karen, this is, this has been super insightful. For me. I have been enjoying the stories that you told during this conversation, all the tactical advice and tips as well. When do we get to read the book?
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 40:28
Well, that’s a really good question. I’m hoping a year from now it is. writing a book is an interesting journey of exploration and twists in turn. And we’re hoping a year from now.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 40:43
Yeah, no, that that’s awesome. Well, if there is a list somewhere that I can sign up, so I can be one of the first to order. I’d love to do that. And whenever it’s out, we’d love to have you back on on the show. So one of the questions that we leave everybody with is for all the managers and leaders out there constantly looking to get better at their craft. What are some tips, tricks, resources, or just parting words of wisdom that you would leave them with?
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 41:12
Yeah, I think, um, the thing that I think is always an interesting unlock for leaders is how do you get your employees to give more calories per hour? Like we always think time is a finite commodity. And it’s not, it’s energy. Because if we are feeling burnt out, or we are not motivated, or inspired like we just don’t, it’s much harder to go through the motions. And so getting curious about those best days, those things you can ean into and hardest from your employees can be super powerful for that.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 41:47
Yeah, that’s great advice, and, and a great way to end it at thanks, Karen, for doing this.
Karen Eber (Eber Leadership Group) 41:53
Thank you. I so enjoyed our conversation.