Episode 28 – Respect: A Strategy for Inclusion – with Gena Cox
Exploring a seemingly old-fashioned and often overlooked key ingredient necessary for workforce inclusion, organizational psychologist Gena Cox reminds us that the way we make people feel matters. As a highly sensitive person able to quickly assess whether respect is present in interactions… or not, Gena encourages leaders to make compassionate action the norm. She shares the 3 C’s every leader needs to adopt and encourages everyone to get an “Inclusion MBA”.
Dr. Gena Cox is an Organizational Psychologist, Leadership Impact Strategist, Executive Coach, Speaker, and award-winning author. She is known for her nuanced, multi-disciplinary insights and honest-but-supportive style.
Gena spent decades working in and consulting to global companies, including the Fortune 500. Now, in her private practice, she works with leaders personally to optimize their impact and influence, and to build respect-first, inclusive organizations.
Tune in to Gena’s insights for a more inclusive tomorrow.
00:03:38 Change you can feel
00:09:50 The key to inclusive leadership
00:11:58 Deciphering respect
00:16:57 Understanding culture
00:19:23 Gena's generosities
00:20:29 Response to DEI initiatives
00:25:13 The Global South has had enough
00:28:30 The Inclusion MBA
IMAGE CREDITS (see images on Youtube video)
George Floyd - credit Wiki Commons
Maya Angelou - credit Depositphotos
“Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman - credit Clare Kumar
Thai people smiling - credit Envato Elements
Japanese commuters not engaging with each other - credit Envato Elements
Michael J Fox - credit Wiki Commons
Lisa Whited - credit LinkedIn
“Work Better: Save The Planet” by Lisa Whited - credit Clare Kumar
Jamie Dimon - CEO JP Morgan Chase - credit LinkedIn
REDI “Respect to Lead” Model and eBook - credit Gena Cox
Learn more about and follow Gena:
Highly sensitive executive coach and productivity catalyst, Clare Kumar, explores the intersection of productivity and inclusivity continually asking how can we invite the richest contribution from all. She coaches individuals in sidestepping burnout and cultivating sustainable performance, and inspires leaders to design inclusive performance thereby inviting teams to reach their full potential. As a speaker, Clare mic-drops “thought balms” in keynotes and workshops, whether virtual or in-person. She invites connection through her online community committed to designing sustainable and inclusive performance, the Happy Space Pod. Why? Because everyone deserves a Happy Space.
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If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a heartfelt review as this will help other listeners discover the podcast. Please invite your colleagues, friends, and family to listen as well. Together we can design a more inclusive world where everyone can make their richest contribution.
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Audio and Video Editing: To Be Reel
Production Assistant: Luis Rodriguez
Song Credit: Cali by WatR. from Pixabay
Gena Cox: The other thing that I uncovered through my research is that people know when they feel respected. They don't necessarily know how to give respect. Well, what does that mean? And the reason they don't necessarily know is because respect is in the eye of the beholder.
Clare Kumar: You're listening to episode 28 of the Happy Space podcast, and today I'm exploring leading inclusion with leadership strategist, Gena Cox.
Welcome to the Happy Space Podcast where productivity meets inclusivity and everyone gets things done. Hello, I'm Clare Kumar, highly sensitive executive coach, speaker, and your host. Studies show that diversity leads to better business outcomes. So doesn't it make sense to invite everyone's richest contribution?
Yet too many people are invited to burn out or opt-out, and we are squandering talent. On this show, we'll explore a two-part solution. Part one, cultivating sustainable performance, the individual design of work and life to preserve our energy so we can keep contributing. And two, designing inclusive performance, the design of spaces, cultures, products, and services, which invite the richest participation.
I hope you enjoy these conversations and find inspiration and encouragement. For everyone deserves a Happy Space. You can likely recall a leader who made you feel instantly part of a team and other situations where you just don't feel like you belong at all. It can invite you on a path to quick performance or lose time worrying about just how to fit in.
Today's guest, Gena Cox, leadership strategist and author of “Leading Inclusion: Drive Changer Employees Can See and Feel”, joins us today, offering us a simple path toward becoming an inclusive leader. I love that Gena is relentlessly optimistic, even in the face of disheartening news, she got some just this morning, and ever so thoughtful about her choice of words to keep leaders listening.
Dr. Gena Cox is an organizational psychologist, leadership impact strategist, executive coach, speaker, and award-winning author. She is known for her nuanced, multidisciplinary insights and honest, but supportive style. She spent years, decades, in fact, working in and consulting with global companies, including the Fortune 500.
Now in private practice, she works with leaders personally to optimize their impact and influence and to build respect-first inclusive organizations. Gena has leadership roles in the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the American Psychological Association. I hope you enjoy Gena's insightful take on leading with inclusion and listen in for the key ingredient to unlock it.
Clare Kumar: Gena, welcome. I am so excited for our conversation ever since I came across your work, your book, Leading Inclusion, and have come to know you, get to know you a little bit. I've been so excited for this conversation, so, welcome!
Gena Cox: Oh, wow, Clare. Thank you. It's such an honor to be here. It's kind of fun to have gotten to know you over the last several months about your work and a sense of your energy. And so I'm delighted to be here.
Clare Kumar: Thank you. You know, I wanted to start with a question for you based on the subtitle in your book. You talk about the need to feel as part of the concept of leading with inclusion. It's how you want your team to… tell me the subtitle of the book. Why am I blanking?
Gena Cox: So the book is called Leading Inclusion and the subtitle is Drive Change Your Employees Can See and Feel.
Clare Kumar: So driving change your employees can see, we get that. But feel, tell me about that word feel and why that was important to you and to include in the title itself.
Gena Cox: Really, really important because, you know, this book is meant primarily for business leaders, but can really be used by anyone who really kind of wants to understand the things that they can do to build an inclusive organization.
And I had known for decades, but in particular, since the era where after George Floyd was killed, between then and now, how many leaders had with good intention, been trying really hard to sort of make a difference, to make a change. And I was seeing that the things that they were doing were unlikely to be effective.
One of the biggest mistakes that I kept seeing was that organizations were pushing forward on this thing called thing called diversity. You know, they were trying to hire people of all categories. For whatever, you know, sort of representation levels they desired and that's wonderful. I love diversity.
There's nothing wrong with that. However, I already knew both from my work and my consulting, and my research, and my personal experiences that regardless of whether you enhance diversity or not, the first thing that you need to do before that is to build an inclusive carpeting. If you would, there needs to be something on which this diversity sits that already can support it.
So for example, I think about if you focus on diversity it's like bringing, you know, the 11th person to a dinner party that you have a place settings for only 10 people. And that 11th person is saying, well, where's my fork? And where's my plate? And did you give me, you know, a place to sit? And then that person starts to wonder, well, kind of an environment is this for me anyway, the point I'm making here is that this whole idea of how we make organizations better, communities better.
You know, sort of lives upon or requires that we have an understanding that what we're trying to do is to enhance people's day-to-day experiences, their feelings of what it feels like to work here, to be in this neighborhood, to go to this school, and so on. So the feeling part of this organizations were not paying any attention to, in my opinion, and still aren't paying enough attention to and that's why it was so important for me to say, don't just make changes that are visible in terms of the physical differences, make sure that you're making changes in the emotional experiences that people are having at work or wherever.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. So I love that because in my four-step plan to get organized in the prioritized part, I've always said, you need to figure out what you want to do with your time and also how you want to feel in a space.
And we have to tap into that emotional importance. You're also making me remember now, as you talked about, sort of the musical chairs element of there's no space for you. One of the jobs I started, I arrived on my first day. Human resources is like, “Oh, we forgot”. And so there was no place for me. Literally, there was no place.
And I thought, yeah, didn't make me feel great with that start. It was like, Oh, wow. If I'm not thought of with care on day one, I'm assuming it's not getting better for me.
Gena Cox: Exactly. And I think it's something that the feeling part of what we're describing. Is the thing that it lasts much longer than people realize, right?
Because some people go home the day or when they're in the workspace, as you're describing. It's that thing that they talk about the most with their friends and their loved ones. You're like, I don't really like my office because it makes me feel this way. I mean, even my personal office, right? And then you put colors and you put new lighting, you do all these things.
It's not because those things are going to make you directly produce more in your personal office. It's that you want to feel a certain way in this space, right? Same thing for when you're going to, you know, a workplace into an office that is provided to you or a culture. When you go home, you talk to your friends, your spouse, your loved ones, and you say, oh, man, I worked really hard today, but let me tell you is, was it this thing that made me feel a certain way that I want to tell you about?
Clare Kumar: This is like Maya Angelou, right? People will remember how you made them feel. Not the words, not all of that stuff, but the way you made them feel. Such a powerful concept. So I love that you named it right off. Now, you talk a lot about an element that's missing, that's old fashioned, that's really the key to building this inclusive culture. Can you share, I want you to name it, and explain to us how you got to sort of rewind to say, wait a minute, we're just forgetting something we used to know.
Gena Cox: I have come to believe that the key to inclusive situations, organizations, and the key to impactful and effective leadership is respect. Now, that shouldn't sound like an epiphany because the word respect is a word that many of us know. But the other thing that I discovered in the research that I was doing before I wrote my book, as I was trying to understand what is it that people want to not just see but feel, I discovered that the key thing people wanted to feel was respected.
Well, gosh, people want to feel respected. It doesn't sound like this would be so hard to do because we've heard this word since we were kids and most people have a sense of what it is, right? But what the other thing that I uncovered through my research is that no, in fact, most people know when they feel respected, they don't necessarily know how to give respect.
Well, what does that mean? And the reason they don't necessarily know is because respect is in the eye of the beholder. So you can't respect me unless you get to know me, which is why, you know, so respect is that fundamental core thing that I say. I would say put respect first in all the things that you do, including organizational work.
Because if you put it first, if you put it into your values, if you hold managers and employees accountable for expressing it, and if you measure it, you're going to be able to move the needle on all of these other things that people call diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Clare Kumar: Wow. There's a lot in that, right? We think it's this thing that we should know innately, and I'm guessing it's like driving, where we imagine we're better drivers than we are. We probably imagine we're showing respect all the time in what we do, but... Saying, wait a second, we're not actually giving it. So let's examine that a little bit because I know when we were talking earlier, you resonate with noticing very quickly whether there's respect in a relationship or whether it's absent. What are your cues? What makes it easy to decipher whether it's there or it's not?
Gena Cox: Well, first of all, Clare, it turns out that I'm a highly sensitive person. On a personal level, I truly have come to understand myself over the decades that I am very much attuned to other people's emotional vibes, right?
So that's just something I say about myself when I laugh and I, you know, I have fun with it and I use it to my advantage. But seriously, though, in the context of business or, you know, communities, the relationships that matter, the thing that I have come to recognize is that when we are having these difficulties where we don't seem connected to one another, it's because we don't understand what that other party needs.
And so in the research that I did, I tried to figure out, well, what are these elements that are present when I Gena feel respected or when more importantly, the people who answered my surveys said when I asked them, you know, what is it that you would want your leaders to know about your experience in their organizations with regard to inclusion.
And I teased out the themes from their comments. What I realized was that consistently all people of all races and so on were saying, we want to feel respected. And respected meant being seen, being heard, and being valued. We'll talk a little bit about that. One differentiator in the data that I was looking at was that I noticed that in this case, black respondents to my survey talked about it a whole lot more.
And then I went out to the literature, in the scientific literature, and discovered, Aha! This makes sense. Because what the literature has documented is that people from minoritized groups say they want the same thing that everybody else wants. They just get less of it from the people who have the power around them, which would be respect.
Clare Kumar: So it's being seen, heard, and valued, which means you need to understand what somebody else values to communicate that. I'm thinking right now of relationships and the five love languages, right? If you want your expression of love to be received as love you need to understand the way somebody appreciates love.
Gena Cox: It's not just what you care about or what you, what you consider respect to be. It's what does Clare think respect is. And, and do you know Clare well enough, especially if you're her neighbor, if you're her colleague, if you're her manager. You have to do what I call, you have the three Cs, you've got to be curious about Clare, first of all, in order to be connected to Clare, you've got to be curious first, and you must do those two things in order to be comfortable with Clare and for Clare to be comfortable with you so that she will tell you or show you what respect means to her. And like you said, this could be in a personal relationship. This could be in any situation, but it's a practice that if leaders specifically think about the impact that they have from this perspective and ask themselves, am I doing these three things, you know, being seen has a lot to do with the sort of just.
Acknowledging my presence as a human, right? Just the humanness of Gena in this space. But it also has to do with, you know, not avoiding me. It has to do with making eye contact. It has to do with you making sure that I am part of whatever it is that's going on and I don't have the sense that I'm being sort of marginalized and in an interpersonal relationship, you know, with your neighbor, it could be as simple as you're walking through the park from opposite directions and we say hello. And I say, Oh, hello. And you get that warm feeling that comes from knowing I just made that human connection. So being seen is not complicated.
Clare Kumar: It's very dramatically in culture, right? Yes. Right? I remember being in Thailand and India, for example, the smiles, you are, smiles are bouncing off everything. I don't know if it's climate induced or what, but living in Japan, part of the ability to cope in such a densely populated place was to actually preserve personal space and make people feel comfortable by not giving eye contact and not engaging.
Gena Cox: It's not all the same. And so I guess even another way of putting it is you've got to understand, well, I'm assuming that, you know, within your local culture, you would know what the norms are within your culture, but you've got to also think about that when you are around a variety of people, even if they're in your same culture.
Because everyone kind of shows up in a space, even at let's say a party and nevermind the workplace, people show up and they all come with all of these same variations. Even though they're in the same geography. Well,
Clare Kumar: I mean, I'm in Toronto, right? So in my building, there are, you know, 500 units or so.
I don't know how many different cultures and some people very new to Canada. So when you say, you know, do you know your culture? There's a journey to even understand, let's just say corporate culture right now. What is it? And what are the expressions of culture that we're trying to absorb? There's a journey to even understand what that is.
Gena Cox: There's a journey. However, I try to say, I don't think any reasonable person expects everybody to understand every nuance of peoples that vary by race and ethnicity and LGBTQ status and all the ways that we vary. I don't think anyone reasonably thinks that we can all understand all of those nuances.
But what we can all do is provide some little thing into the world that shows that next person that I see you. And so sometimes it's just a glance. Sometimes, as you say, it's not anything overt. But there's a certain thing that lets another human person know, I see that other human person, and it is universal.
And so when I travel, I am aware of this. I know that there are cultural norms that differ. But it is still important for me to somehow convey to the people around me that I, you know, I'm here and I see that you are here. Something about that. I think that's what we're trying to do. I really do.
Clare Kumar: It's interesting, right? Because I think of the introverts that I have definitely said hello to in the elevator. Who are like, why is she talking to me? I tend to be extroverted, even though I'm highly sensitive. I love to connect with people. But I'm also now aware that it might not be everybody's preference, so it's almost a gentle invitation.
Gena Cox: Absolutely. It is gentle. You know, like in a high rise building, I was in a hotel this weekend for a meeting and you know, going up the elevator and in that situation it was like the holding of the door or it was what floor, like in this case, what I'm doing is I'm pushing the button to go to eight and there are other people saying, you know, what floor?
I mean, those are little, you can even call them niceties, courtesies. I guess the point I'm trying to make is there is no hard and fast rule. All I'm saying is that if each of us were to be thoughtful about the other people in the space, it gives us quickly some ideas about what we can do.
.Clare Kumar: I'm calling them Gena's Generosities. It's generous to approach every interaction with a generous spirit. Yeah. Holding on to that curiosity you talked about. And you can't do it 100% of the time. Yeah. So curiosity, connectedness.
Gena Cox: Yeah. And comfort. Because I think comfort is the other outcome we all seek. The reason we put avoid eye contact, the reason we look down, the reason we do all these things that we do that are frankly, awkward from a human perspective, they interfere with interaction is we're not comfortable.
And I think in business, especially because, and I know I keep bringing it back to business only because that's primarily the context that I know the best. That discomfort interferes with getting the job done. We don't really want the discomfort there, but we have it. So what do you do with it? You got to think about it and say, Oh, wow, I want to get to comfort. How can I get to comfort and use all the tricks that you can use to get there because that's what you really want. And bring people with you, and respect, curiosity, connection, all of these things bring you to that comfort.
Clare Kumar: Yeah as I look at the world of DEI right now and DEI, I'm seeing headlines that say 30% of people are losing leadership roles in that specific line of focus. Why do you think is happening with the conversation around this and why?
Gena Cox: So I'm in the United States, I happen to be in the state of Florida. So I have to be very careful and you will hold me accountable to make sure that I don't just keep too narrow a lens on this. Because I do think there's a United States perspective, but frankly, there's a global perspective on some of this that I'm also seeing. The origins might've been in the United States, but it's certainly this global issue. One of the things that I am seeing is that very clearly there is, you know, our world is primarily the world of the colonizers and the colonized like across the globe.
That's the truth. And there's that. And the folks who have traditionally held the power by virtue of the colonization being the colonizers are sort of resisting the idea that those who have been colonized want a little bit more elbow room and a little more space to just be. I see that dynamic playing out globally.
Another dynamic and I then I'll answer the specific question that you asked. Another dynamic that I see playing out globally is this notion of I'm going to call it, you know, authoritarian conservatism, this notion that there are certain ideas that a few people hold that are very prescriptive about the behaviors that are appropriate and the behaviors that are inappropriate and those kinds of ideas are really taking hold and those ideas are present then in the politics, and politics is nothing more than the rules that govern our daily life.
So politics affects all of us as we know. And so in the workplace, specifically in the United States, with regard to the conversations about affirmative action or DEI leaders losing their jobs and so on, what that represents is the powers that be resisting what they have been seeing as a little bit of improvement.
That has come relatively quickly in the three years since George Floyd was killed as a result of very purposeful actions on the part of some people to make things better. And some people are saying, wait a minute, we don't want these changes. Or the thing changed it. We prefer the way things were where our power wasn't challenged as much.
So people are losing their DEI leadership roles because just today, for example, I got an email from a large consulting company for which I am actually a subcontractor, but this huge company has a formal contract with a very large Fortune 500 company. And we were preparing to do some high potential strategy work to help them get people to keep moving women, all kinds of people in the organization.
They literally wrote a note to us this morning that said we're going to stop this whole program as a result of the Supreme Court ruling against affirmative action in colleges. Because we are afraid that we will get a legal challenge if we focus on identifying high potentials who will like, and saying we would like diversity in that pool so that they can be available to be eventually moved to executive positions.
So when you ask that question, it is not an abstraction. It's a literal direct line between those things that are happening in the social and political sphere.
Clare Kumar: You said it well, I boil it down to don't take my toys away. I like my toys and you're threatening my toys and I don't like it now.
Gena Cox: But you should know Clare, you should know that like I, about this, I am as optimistic as I am about everything else in life because optimism to quote Michael J Fox, which I did recently is optimism is scalable, right? And it keeps us going. I heard Michael J. Fox say that on Sunday on CBS Good Morning. And I was in that same hotel room I mentioned. I don't usually watch the Sunday morning talking heads. He said that when I said that's profile, he should know, I mean, he's dealing with Parkinson's early onset and now he has turned it all around and he's making the world better, but I'm optimistic about what you asked me because I already, I talked to a lot of people, especially younger people intentionally and generation Z.
I mean, that's, again, that's another stereotype, but younger people. And people who are in colonized places that are now being described as the global south, which is the new language of the international community for Southeast Asia or Africa or the Caribbean or whatever, those are saying, well, enough already, right?
And actually the reason they're saying enough already, I don't know if it has as much to do with race and those kinds of things. And certainly there's that. I think the one issue that everyone sees very clearly where there has been failure to lead and where the failure to lead has had a disproportionately negative effect on the global South would be climate change.
And so, as you take a long term view of your world and you see the threats in it. Yes, there's race in there, but frankly, the thing I worry about, I worry about climate change and I worry about why are you resisting that? Why are you saying I'm not going to do anything about it?
Clare Kumar: Oh my gosh. You speak into my heart. I just reached out to Lisa Whited yesterday she's got a book on earth first business and yeah, I'm amazed at in all the talk about return to office and Jamie Dimon, I'm looking at you, five days in the work, five days back in the office, everybody, the impact on the planet is, is profound.
So hang on a second. There's certain things need to be done in person. But other things don't, and we've proven that. So where is the environment, where is our long term thinking? It's quarterly profit driven for so many people, and I want the lens to be as Dorie Clark talks about the long game, right?
Where is the long term thinking that's actually going to carry us forward? We need a little bit more elegance and a little less self serving and the visionary leadership that we choose to follow.
Gena Cox: And all of this has to do with what you've been talking about all along. I know that it might seem a little bit disconnected from or distant in a conversation of the kind that we're having, but the reality is that what we're really talking about here is that Those who have the power to make those positive differences aren't doing them because at this moment, the negative effects of their inaction are being primarily felt by what I'm going to call that global south. So at this moment maybe they don't feel like this is something that they need to worry as much about. Whereas we're already feeling those effects.
Clare Kumar: And well, until it lands on the North's doorstep, the, and even when it is, I mean, I don't know if you saw, you know, we'd had massive Canadian wildfires this summer and the pictures out of Manhattan were by far the worst in terms of pollution and orange haze.
Nobody woke up. Nobody just said, I don't know how many people are saying, what responsibility am I taking? Carbon footprint, maybe, but just come back to, do I need to travel for this? What's my entitlement as a human to move around? That's driving the biggest pollution.
Well, I love your optimism. I'm optimistic too, but I think it's igniting minds like you do with your work around leading inclusion. And like I'm trying to do talking about inclusivity and hooking it to productivity. So leaders go, Oh yeah, there is a business benefit to this as well. I want to come now to you. You have a model and approach. That's easy to remember to embed respect and the peak, the way people show up, you call it the MBA approach. Can you explain that to us?
Gena Cox: So I've learned again, over decades of working, we need an MBA for everything that we want to change. But with regard to inclusion, my experiences have proven to me or shown to me that we can't make the changes, meaning we can't create organizations in which all people feel like they have an equal opportunity to thrive. Until the leaders of those organizations have an inclusion MBA, the M stands for mindset.
So leaders have to, through education and exposure to the realities of the world beyond their own personal experiences, get to understand the various experiences of the people who show up in their organizations as employees or as prospective employees. It's kind of like if you were selling and you know they are selling products and services if you were selling a particular kind of shoe, you wouldn't say, well, Oh, you know what? I'm only going to pay attention to 75% of my market. Cause yeah, that other 25, they'll take care of themselves. You would say, I want to understand my customer, all of them. Same thing with your employees. If you don't have that mindset to recognize that you can't call yourself an effective leader, if you can only effectively lead a portion of your workforce and the rest of the workforce isn't thriving, you're not effective if you can't see that you can't, you won't make change.
So I try to help leaders to see that, to think, but to process it at an emotional level, not at a ethical level, not at a business case level or risk level at a level of, wait a minute, what does, what does this really mean for those employees, their day to day experiences in my company to get quiet. So you have to have that mindset thing that will then have you go, oh my gosh, now that I understand. Then I go to the B, which is, I have to be bold because the biggest hindrance that I have observed to inclusion in organizations is that leaders usually know the people in their organizations who are intentionally either slow walking or hindering inclusion efforts. They know who they are.
They know the people who immediately resist. They do nothing about it. They just let them continue. And every day. That they let them continue. That's a five person team or a 10 person team, or whatever the number of people under that person, there's a fraction of those people whose needs aren't being met.
So they've got to be bold enough to say, we're going to change this. You can no longer do this. You must do that. We can't pretend anymore. They've got to make hard decisions about people who may be valuable on one way, but highly toxic and destructive in another.
Gena Cox: The leaders who are in that hierarchy that can make the decision, they have, they don't really have to give something up. They have to gain something because if you have a hundred person team being led by that person and only 75% of those people are thriving, you're missing the opportunity for that 100% to be thriving.
Clare Kumar: I hear you. I think the challenge though, is that it's that leader who's resisting has shown some value and the person looking at that is hooked into that value without understanding the talent that's being squandered.
Gena Cox: Without understanding the opportunity, absolutely. They don't necessarily see it or they see it and they don't want to, more often they see it and they don't want to process it.
I'll give you a concrete example. I'm coaching an executive who in our last two meetings ago, we spent quite a bit of time talking through this issue where a peer executive is totally resisting her strategic efforts on behalf of her business. And she wants to force the issue, you know, she's like, I got to get this guy to change his behavior.
And I said, well, why does he keep doing it? Oh, well, because he's the golden boy, his boss, who is also my boss higher up in the food chain allows his certain behaviors because they get this financial benefit from the deals that he makes. They say, oh, well, that's not going to change. That's not going to change.
Because that person hasn't got the right mindset above him, so you can't, don't waste time trying to change his mind. What you need to do is figure out how can you use maybe some honey or some other approach, sort of diffuse that, and then you get what you want.
That person's manager, that other person that is allowing the toxic behavior, doesn't have the right mindset to run a diverse organization, and they will, and they're not taking bold action. So that's the M and the B and then the A is action that you, you have to think about this and you have to decide what you need to do and be willing to be bold.
And then you do what you need to do. And the doing there can be so many different ways you do, but the subtitle of my book, “Drive Change Employees Can See and Feel” is based on this notion that we are waiting to see what leaders do that we can see and feel and the employees know that you're not taking action.
So it is self-defeating to not take action. Even though you think, well, not taking action means that nobody can tell me what to do, or, you know, I'm not going to get labeled woke. Well, guess what? Your employees are still disappointed. You know?
Clare Kumar: I remember in business school, do nothing was always an option and there's a consequence and the consequence, consequence isn't really being faced there, right?
Gena Cox: You're definitely putting your head in the sand and this applies to anything, but it applies to what we're, what I talk about the, to a great degree. Because executive leaders, board directors, and people who have authority underestimate the extent to which those who need assistance with these problems are waiting for them to take action.
Clare Kumar: The inclusion MBA is something that every needle leads. And I wholeheartedly agree. I love how you phrase that in such a memorable way. So I hope listeners are jotting that down and perhaps sending an invitation to read Gena's book over and enter her world that enter more of your world.
You've been so kind as to offer something for our listeners today, which we'll make available in the show notes. So Gena, you want to explain what that is and then I'll tell people how to find those show notes.
Gena Cox: Yeah, I have a little document that I'd be happy to share with your audience, which really just provides a little bit more information about how I came to my focus on this respect idea, why I really think all leaders should focus on respect more and how they can sort of think about it in a practical way just with a few questions that I include in there.
So just have you think about it, you know, am I doing these things? What could I do differently? And are the people that are around me, are they experiencing these things? So it's just a very simple sort of guide, if you would.
Clare Kumar: I love it. I want to say it's going to have an Aretha Franklin soundtrack to go with it.
Gena Cox: If it weren't for the fact that they have all these darn rights about, you know, Protections, copyright, like I love copyright, but it's my book, but I wish I could copy Aretha Franklin and use her voice on everything and I wish we could channel some of that love for respect.
Clare Kumar: Oh, Gena, thanks so much for joining me for listeners who are just so riveted by this conversation.
You're definitely wanting going to want to grab that giveaway. If you go to HappySpacePod.com, it'll take you to everything to do with this. project of mine, the community, but also for sure the podcast. And you'll be able to find Gena's episode, which is episode 28. And in the show notes, there will be a link to just what Gena described, a quick way to really self reflect on the importance of respect and how to get there more quickly.
And for sure, something you want to share with people who you think might need a little invitation to think this way. Gena, it's just been a treat to hear the, your eloquent way of describing this, your relentless optimism, which I share, and I just feel richer being in your world. So thank you so much.
Gena Cox: Oh, Clare, it's a pleasure. And even just looking at you with your colors, every time I go to your website and see the, the fuchsia, the orange, the white, I can actually see that now. It makes me very happy.
Clare Kumar: Awesome. Yeah, that's the whole point, right? We all need, we all need a Happy Space. And I think why I saw your topic connects so much to this, is this is an opportunity for leaders to create that Happy Space for their employees and invite those contributions. I don't want any more squandered talent out there. And this is a real path to make sure more people can continue to contribute. All right. Thanks. Thanks so much, Gena. Thanks so much for joining me today!
Gena Cox: It's been a pleasure.
Clare Kumar: Thanks so much for watching. Find all of the Happy Space podcast episodes right here in the YouTube playlist. And if you enjoyed this conversation, check out the featured episodes shown right here. Go ahead and share this conversation with someone else who needs to hear it. After all, doesn't everyone deserve a Happy Space?