In The Last Few Years, Corporations And Non-Profits Have Begun To Experience A Shift In Culture Expectations And Attitudes Of Emerging Professionals. Tatiana Sehring Offers Some Observations.
Interview By Michelle L. Maldonada
Featured guest: Tatiana Sehring has 10 years of experience in corporate partnerships for leadership, talent and professional development, serving as the director of Corporate & Strategic Relationships at American Public University. Her passion is to inspire authentic leadership development, lifelong learning, and meaningful individual and organization transformation. She has been featured as a thought leader in conference and related venues for human capital management professionals, including Human Capital Media, ELearning!, Chief Learning Officer and Training .
Q: What are a few of the key drivers of change that leaders should consider?
Sehring: Recently, we’ve begun to see leaders speaking more openly about their leadership styles. They have sparked conversation with new approaches like ‘conscious capitalism.’ This and other key changes have come from great leadership, vision and culture that serve to empower, develop, believe, care for, and ultimately inspire employees. Some of these more visible leaders understand that when you motivate people in a way that aligns a person’s purpose, passion and skillset with an organization’s vision, strategy and needs, it can have a significant impact on an organization’s sustainability. In fact, employee satisfaction surveys reinforce that the integration of soft skills in the workplace can significantly impact profits. There are also emerging considerations for culture transformation in prosperous corporations such as mindful and authentic leadership styles, which are valuable tools organizations can use to motivate employees, ultimately, contributing to organizational success. In February 2014, Time magazine featured a cover story, “The Mindful Revolution,” which shows these considerations are becoming mainstream conversations. Leaders are making the direct correlation between people investment and higher employee and organizational performance through the balanced integration of learning and development, emotional intelligence, mindful leadership and soft skills.
Q: Why do you think addressing these considerations is so critical for organizations today?
Sehring: According to Gallup‘s 2013 State of the Global Workplace, 87 percent of the global workforce is not engaged at some level. It’s important for organizations to deliver the intrinsic factors that motivate people to perform better. There are many resources on this topic, but my favorite is Dr. Daniel Goleman, clinical psychologist. People do their best work when they care about it with affection and values. Then, understanding motivational drivers of your employees and aligning them with corporate culture and strategy as well as providing opportunities for improving leadership development, emotional intelligence and soft skills can make a difference on driving engagement and performance.
Q: Can you share examples of organizations that have successfully incorporated soft skills and authentic leadership development?
Sehring: Sure, there are many successful examples. One is Google, which offers employees a mindful-based emotional intelligence program called Search Inside Yourself (SIY), which was developed by a Google engineer, Chade-Meng Tan. I attended this program, which is offered now through the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), and I was impressed with the integration of emotional intelligence, mindfulness practice, science based data and leadership applications. I learned mindfulness is associated with better performance and can help create an inspired workplace that supports proper individual development, affecting an organizations’ profits. Another example is Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh who successfully grew the company to become the world’s largest online shoe store. His success is attributed to the principles of happiness: “Pleasure, Passion, Purpose,” which apply to personal and corporate life. These examples show there’s no faking the link between satisfied employees and happy customers.
Q: When you work with organizations, what’s the most important takeaway to remember?
Sehring: It’s important for them to remember that the return-on-investment of these practices can’t be realized in a short-term strategy or if they’re applied in silos. We must act on the knowledge that everything is connected — from integration of emotional intelligence throughout the employee lifecycle (including wellness) and the overall organization’s vision, culture and strategy. Each of these components directly ties to long-term organizational development, performance and growth.
Q. Are there any resources you can recommend for readers who would like to learn more on this topic?
Sehring: First, I recommend the book “Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)” by Chade-Meng Tan. The book can be a helpful resource to learn techniques to take control of your own development and happiness, become better people and leaders, and help create an inspired workplace that supports proper individual development and leads to better performance. The second book is “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose” by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. He highlights that the recipe to high profits is as simple as connecting employees and corporate culture to a higher purpose, fundamentally motivating your people. Finally, I also recommend the book from Daniel Goleman, “Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.” His premise is very fitting for our society today as we struggle with information overload, pressure to perform, and multitasking, which are in reality undermining our productivity. Other takeaways are: (1) focus is the key to high performance; (2) mental downtime is needed to spur creativity; (3) leaders who are fully “focused” at the right time are more successful.
—The author, Michelle L. Maldonado, is a former corporate attorney with more than 17 years of leadership experience in strategic planning, operations and partnership development across the eLearning, technology and online media industries. She serves as associate vice president of corporate strategic relationships for American Public University System and is the founder of its Inspire Leadership Series (formerly the Authentic Leadership Series). To read the full article or to subscribe to American Public University’s Inspire Leadership Series: www. GreatLeadersInspire.com