Episode 31 – Make Your Work-life Bloom – with Dan Pontefract
Employee engagement has been stuck at sad, low levels ever since pollsters have been measuring it. And each year, leaders are tasked with bringing levels up, but how?
My friend Dan Pontefract, leadership strategist, culture change expert, speaker, Tragically Hip superfan (if you’re Canadian, you’ll understand this), and best-selling author of four books, joins us today to share his thoughts on how you can make Work and Life Bloom…no coincidence, that’s the title of his newest book… “Work-Life Bloom”. Dan suggests we have been getting leadership's definition wrong, largely because of three big myths: Work-life balance is a zero-sum game, the invitation for authenticity has only been lip service, and focusing on employee engagement has been a complete miss.
Dan is the best-selling author of four books: “Lead. Care. Win.”, “Open to Think”, “The Purpose Effect”, and “Flat Army”. A renowned speaker, Dan has presented at four different TED events and also writes for Forbes and Harvard Business Review. Dan is an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria, Gustavson School of Business and has garnered more than 20 industry awards over his career.
00:03:23 Book origins
00:07:01 A sense of agency and autonomy
00:10:45 Speaking up when necessary
00:13:34 The 4 Personas
00:17:48 Leaders getting involved
00:26:44 Are we expecting too much of our leaders?
00:31:16 What is the perception of leaders?
00:36:27 Dan's overarching goal
“Work-Life Bloom: How to Nurture a Team that Flourishes” by Dan Pontefract - Goodreads
IMAGE CREDITS (see images on Youtube video)
Someone looking defeated - Envato Elements
Someone using a stationary bike -Canva
Leader and employee talking -Canva
Work-Life Bloom Model - credit Dan Pontefract
Dr. Vivek H. Murthy - credit Twitter
Flower blooming - Envato Elements
Two ropes intertwining - Canva
People working in cubicles - Envato Elements
A cross-section of an iceberg - credit
“Awakening Compassion at Work” by Monica Worline and Jane Dutton - credit Goodreads
“Work-Life Bloom: How to Nurture a Team that Flourishes” by Dan Pontefract - credit Dan Pontefract
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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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Audio and Video Editing: To Be Reel
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Song Credit: Cali by WatR. from Pixabay
Dan Pontefract: I don't think leaders in these types of roles are fearful of change, but I think it's the notion of what we've been used to that causes them the fear and that scaredy-cat-ness of, “holy cow, like I've been doing it wrong.”
Clare Kumar: You're listening to episode 31 of the Happy Space Podcast. Today, we're talking about how to make work and life bloom with leadership strategist, Dan Pontefract.
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.
Employee engagement has been stuck at sad, low levels ever since pollsters have started measuring it. And every year leaders are asked to bring this measure up, but how? But hang on a second. What if we've been getting the very definition of leadership wrong? What if we haven't been looking broadly enough? Today's guests suggest that we have been missing the point largely because of three big myths: He says that we've been missing the fact that work and life need to work together symbiotically because one side can actually either strengthen or deplete the other.
I hope you'll tune in to Dan Pontefract's wisdom. He is a leadership strategist, culture change expert, speaker, Tragically Hip fan, and if you're a Canadian like I am, you'll know what that means, and bestselling author of four books to date, and this is his fifth. So I hope you'll enjoy this conversation about making work and life bloom.
That's no coincidence because the title of his fifth book is “Work-Life Bloom”. Listen in and please do share this episode for any manager or people leader who you think needs to hear a more holistic leadership message.
Dan Pontefract, thrilled to be spending some good time with you. It's been a while since we've seen each other and much has happened. You're now onto your fifth book, which is going to be a bulk of what we talk about today, but I'm actually really interested to kick off with your journey on how you got to writing about “Work-Life Bloom.”
Your other four books are talking about organizations and leadership thinking. How did “Work-Life Bloom” come to be?
Dan Pontefract: Well, first of all, Clare, it's so good to see you. Thank you for this invite. I hope that I'm happy and positive enough for you because I do have to bring the audience down a little bit as to why I got to “Work-Life Bloom”
So three things popped up in my research and I was thinking about actually writing a book solely on agency. I was really worried about sort of our levels of self determination, our self worth, sort of factors of autonomy and empowerment and how that all got bungled going into the pandemic and post pandemic, if that's what we want to call it.
And so I realized that actually it's not just agency that's getting in the way. What I found and discovered were much bigger, essentially. So the three big myths that I uncovered was work life balance is a zero sum game, basically in the research that I conducted, people are like, look, why does my boss or my employer keep telling me that we're working on work life balance or that we espouse work life balance when in fact.
There's no such thing like I feel stressed, burnt out, anxious, sad, mad, angry, lonely and so on. So with this whole work life balancing just became really a sticky point for me. Number two was sort of an HRE type of thing. No disrespect to HRE people, but, an HRE thing was, let's get you to bring your best, most authentic self to work.
And the problem with that, of course, is that when people were trying to do that, they're being ignored or it really wasn't a thing and it was just lip service, you know, so that became something. And number three, perhaps my favorite of the three myths and that is employee engagement. And there's a complete, like 7 trillion industry about employee engagement out there.
Yet no one stopped to ask the question. Why have the scores remain relatively static and low for so many years? When I say so many years, as you know, we're talking like 20-plus years. So I wanted to reverse engineer that question and say, well, why? And why are people still fixating on engaged employees?
Maybe there's something else around that. So that's the journey, which led me to sort of figuring out. This work life bloom concept.
Clare Kumar: I hear you. I had a company that I was speaking with last year, agreed to name one of my talks Beyond Lip Service. Oh, I like that. There's some bravery in that because yeah. Maybe we can talk about each of those a little bit: agency, autonomy. That's one of the big reasons I left the corporate world because I wasn't able to find the flexibility. That I knew I needed, even though I liked the work, I liked the things I was able to think about and the people I was working with, but I needed more flexibility to be able to hold onto my energy.
And so I became an entrepreneur in large part because. I needed to control the construct of work for me. And I know in, in this book, “Lead Care Win”, I don't know if you've seen my earlier podcast episodes, but if you look in the videos, it was on this stack for easily a year and a bit.
So, I pulled it out now and there's a part in the book where you talk about flex and the need for flex. And for me, autonomy requires flexibility on the part of leadership. Can you talk about how you get at this big driver for work life bloom, the sense of agency, autonomy, and there being more to it?
Dan Pontefract: Yeah, sure. I mean, one of the things that I discovered was that, we were sort of in these leadership circles where we're almost pigeonholing people. And we're pigeonholing really the way in which that we're espousing what work is defined as. So what I mean by that? When you feel pigeonholed, certainly as you found out, and others have discovered, right, you're put into a box and that creativity, that innovation, that ideation, that my voice matters,
that sense of belonging, that feeling respected and valued will then, not only harm how you feel as a human being at work, it actually spills over into life. It really is an important point to make is that agency isn't just for life, it actually has to be found in work. And thus, if you feel agency at work, there's probably some muscle development that you'll learn and build upon that actually can leak over, if not spill over, if not be completely entwined, you know, in life and agency is just one of them as a work-life factor. I mean, another one related to this is well-being or wellness.
When I feel as though that my employer actually cares about the flexibility of the body and the mind and the soul. And that then can help me in my life so that some of the things that I'm learning about, or again, have been, worked on with my boss or my organization, what have you, can then spill over and integrate with life.
Then I've got this much more symbiotic bond between work and life at the help and assistance of the employer. So agency is a great one, right? Because when we don't feel that self determination in our lives, that's going to spill into work and oh gosh, that's not going to feel good if we're not developing the muscle within the workplace so that that can be found in my community, with my family, with my friends, right, at church groups, whatever it is.
Then, you know, your feeling is, oh, my boss, my organization's kind of let me down. Wellness, again, is another one. Same thing. There's this symbiotic relationship between work and life when it comes to wellness. So what I basically did was, well, what are the factors that allow us to feel that, you know, I matter in both work and life? And then what can, you know, ultimately leaders do about that?
Clare Kumar: So, you've identified factors that influence our success and they are, like you said, They go from life into work and work into life and strength in one area can lead to strength in another. What's interesting that I've noticed is sometimes people will seem to have a strength in one area, one side of life, and it's completely missing in the other, and vice versa.
Organization skills, sometimes. Oh, I'm really on top of things at work, but my home life, forget it. Also well being, wellness, and taking care of maybe even the ability to speak up. In certain places they're fine, in other places they're just... I know someone who's a VP level, speaks up at work, cannot speak up at home in her marriage. Just done. Just can't find her voice. So I'm curious what you've noticed as you, as you look at this, and what the conversation is for leaders here, and individuals around bringing these two together to strengthen each other.
Dan Pontefract: It's a great question, a great observation. And I know we probably have very similar examples of individual contributors, managers, directors, VPs, you know, executives where one side of the coin is working and the other isn't and vice versa, like work-life or life work, or both aren't working. And then there are those where at their particular age and stage of career work/life, you know, they are working.
And that's actually the point is that when you look at Gallup or Blessing/White, Aon Hewitt, Great Place to Work, they're so myopic in what they're measuring. They ask questions solely and their, you know, their algorithm or their logic is solely based on work, and they ask questions based on, do you say good things about the company when you're external, do you, do you want to stay at the company or the organization, do you strive to go above and beyond the call of duty?
And it's all fixated, you know, on the work as if we don't bring our work home. And the thinking and the ideating and so on, right, that happens when you're on a spinner on Saturday morning, or you're at a Pilates class on Friday afternoon at 4.30, or vice versa, when it's one o'clock on Wednesday, and you're thinking about the conversation you had with your community group that you had last Saturday, and it's affecting you at work.
So what we need to come to grips with is that it's not about whether you're engaged, slightly engaged, not engaged, or chronically disengaged at work. It's what persona do you have right now between the work and the life factors? And I think that would open up just a heck of a lot better conversation and development of people when leaders are armed with what those four personas are, at least the ones I'm arguing about.
So that they can have conversations of whether you're blooming or not. And if you're not blooming, in the case, for example, with the vice president, let's say that their relationships factor is going really well at work. Like bound. This is just a great thing that's happened. They know how to be connected.
They feel that they belong. They feel valued. They have a great, opportunity to align with the strategy. They know the norms of the organization, like they're just flourishing when it comes to work, but they're, shackled or it's difficult for them to build relationships in community or at home.
They, they may not feel a sense of meaning outside of work, so they're lost. They might not ultimately feel that they have wellness because they're just fixated on work, but then they don't have any outlet other than work, and so that's eventually going to catch up with them, obviously at the work side.
So then, like in your point of that example, the life stuff, you know, the character is really what I'm talking about. Life is diminished. And so rather than blooming, you know, they're what I call budding. So if they're buddying, that means work is going really well, but life isn't, then they're almost there.
But what, can a leader not help them on that life side? Some of the life factors?
Clare Kumar: Well, Dan, I'm sorry, that's not my domain as a leader. That's personal. I want to have nothing to do with it. Isn't that the traditional view of leaders is that I have n place in your personal life.
Dan Pontefract: That’s exactly it, Clare. So I'm making arguments. Going into the pandemic, and certainly perhaps because of the pandemic and now if we call it post pandemic, I don't believe that there is a line between work and life. I certainly don't believe there's balance. So there is work and there is life, but when I talk about life, I'm talking about the development of character, not can you help someone balance a paycheck or whatever, balance a budget, you know, their home budget, not if they are going to get a puppy and name them Kazoo or have a garage sale on Saturday, right?
That's not what I'm getting at. It's not chicken soup for the soul stuff. It's that the leader should be having awareness and thus then conversations. About things like, well, what, how's your relationship skill building? How is your skills building? How is your sense of meaning? what is it that I can do to help you with wellness? Agency?
Do you feel you can make decisions and how can I help you just in that work and life scenario when it comes to self determination those. Types of conversations, to your point, are actually what we should be having. And that's when people will be, quote, engaged. That's when they'll feel balanced.
That's when they'll feel that they're their best selves. Not the other way around. Let's just call it what it is. Like, we're lying.
Clare Kumar: Well, incomplete denial, yeah, in absolute, complete and total denial. I mean, any learning that I ever went on corporate training, you're thinking through examples and you're thinking of the wholeness of life.
You're thinking, how will I use this at home? Oh, that's a conversation I could have with my mother. I remember executive coach training out on Vancouver Island where you are, and I thought, Oh my gosh, this is parenting teenagers. These are the same exact skills, executive coaching and parenting teens, exact same.
As soon as you can't pick a child up and take them with you where you want them to be, you need different strategies. And all of the executive coaching was exactly what was going to be successful with a, with a teenager, a little more listening, a little more curiosity, you know, keep the communication going.
What do you think? This is a massive shift to actually name the fact that leaders have a place in another human being's whole entire life.
Dan Pontefract: Clare, if you were to imagine, and I don't want to get mathematical, but just very simply, like anyone that's listening, imagine an XY axes and a 2x2 matrix at that.
And so let's just put work on the Y axis. So that's the one on the left and let's put life on the X axis. That's the one at the bottom. And so on the, on the left of the Y axis, let's say work has a range between awesome and awful. So at the top is awesome at the bottom is awful. And then life on the other side there on the X-axis on the far right is very clear.
And then just on the far left there at the bottom right is unclear. So if a leader knows that, you know, work is brought into life and life is brought into work, then they're going to have to appreciate that it's not just about work and certainly it's not about balancing that budget or asking about the garage sale type questions about the development of character itself, which is life and those skills and those attributes, I guess, get brought into both same thing with work though, the work factors.
Like, don't we have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure that our people feel good when they go home? I think we do. But the data is so distressing, Clare. both my sort of primary research that I conducted, but also. Others that have led up to this, so let me give you a few to prove the point.
So as much as I, sort of, take stinky feet to Gallup's use of employee engagement, and I do, I still don't understand why it's hovered around 33 percent for the better part of 24 years. Well, I do know why, because people have personas, we go through cycles. So we go through cycles of whether it's an acquisition or whether, you know, we've moved home and city, and we don't have any relationships anymore.
Like all these things happen. It's life, right? And work comes around with it. So despite that, Gallup in 2009, start tracking four things. They start tracking, the four emotions, anger, anxiety, which is a little bit different than stress.
Well, actually, the fourth one was worry. So funny you brought that up. So anyway, of these four emotions, since 2009, they have all shot up. And I say shot up, they range from anger being only up 10 percent to stress up 44%. And the other ones are 40 and 36, if I'm not mistaken.
So they tracked this and I'm like, Okay, that's not good. And then you see two other main points that are happening. in 2019, the World Health Organization said that burnout was becoming a problem and they coined it an issue in the workforce. And then four years later in 2023, so just last May, World Health Organization came out and said, Yeah, we were right, 50 percent of leaders are burned out.
You're just like, okay, what's happening? And then the third one, the final one happened in May of this year, Dr. Vivek Murthy, who's the surgeon general in the U. S., came out and said, loneliness and a lack of connection is an epidemic in our workplaces.
Clare Kumar: It was a problem before the pandemic.
Loneliness was 61%, according to Eagle Consulting, I think it was. Before the pandemic and still so many leaders want to hit rewind and say, it was fine before when we all came into the office, Dan, don't you know, it was fine. Just everybody get back and you'll be fine. I talked to people, young employees, often new to Canada who were in an office with people and saying, I don't have any connection to anyone here.
Dan Pontefract: So let's go back to this work-life two by two and my point being is that if you're stressed and any combination, sorry, of stress, angry, unwell, no self-determination. So lack of agency, lonely, lack of connection. Don't feel your organization is developing you as a human being skill-wise.
Don't understand the strategy, can't figure out how to get stuff done. I could go on. Then, then you've got sort of this two by two matrix and you're asking yourself, well, where, where do I fit right now in one of the four boxes? And I think that's kind of the problem is that we, in Gallup's, et cetera, like they don't understand that, or they're not at least using their systems, right, or their kind of methodology.
We have cycles, like, like weather patterns, like seasons. So I put the whole model against me, and I, you know, I've been fortunate to have 25 years to look back on, and I started as an academic at British Columbia Institute of Technology, spent six years there. I entered into the workforce in renewal. And what I meant by renewal is that my work factors were low and my life factors were low because I didn't know what I was doing.
How could I start blooming right away? It's literally impossible. And then eventually kind of those work and life factors started to come around. My dean, et cetera, were helping me. I was like now finally blooming. It took about a year, but I got there and I stayed there for five years. And I was like, you know what?
If I want to be a better human being in life, I better leave academia and go into the corporate world. So I did. Well, what do you think happened right away? I fell down to renewal, which is one of the personas I'm referring to in the bottom left where life and work suck, basically. And I was like, God, what am I doing here?
I don't know what to do to myself. Yeah. I don't understand the purpose of high tech in this particular company. I'm like kind of lost. I'm probably drinking too much cause I'm frustrated. So my wellness is down. Right. It's just stuff like that. And then eventually I was like, okay, I got this now. but then, a company acquired the high-tech company that I joined.
And you know what though, it was at a point in my life where they were awesome. But I moved over where work was awesome, but I was confused about who I was as a human being. And so my life factors dropped. So I ended up in the top left persona. Which is budding. It's like, okay, I just got to figure out a few more things in my character because my relationships were different.
Anyway, long story short, I'm not going to get through all my jumps, but I've been in all four personas, whether I've been blooming, budding, or stunted, which is the one at the bottom right. Or renewal. And that's the thing is that it's not about being engaged or disengaged. It's about when the factors of work and life actually begin to intersect.
That's the real human being. That's being your best in that particular moment. When I had three kids under five and I just joined Telus in 2008. You know, I was a hot mess. Because I didn't feel I had any self-determination, no agency, because everything was about these three babies effectively, right?
In my life, but I had to bring that into work and I started a new job at Telus. So I started out in a renewal phase right away. So like, I got to work on both of these things. I hope my boss is there to help me as well. He was, and it was a great experience over time.
Clare Kumar: Well, that's now a friend of mine, who's now a CEO calls that the leader lottery.
Because you don't know, you don't know who you're going to get, right? When I had my small kids, I worked for someone who had no kids and just did not understand what that life felt like. In fact, she used to get dropped off at her desk by her husband at the office. So she had a chauffeur to work essentially every morning.
And she didn't have to take kids, you know, 20 minutes in the other direction. She just had no concept of what my life was like and how chaotic it was. By the time I already got, got to the office, I felt like I'd lived a day already, right? So I think there's, you're right. So we're, we're looking at the success of individuals.
And life and work coming together to influence where somebody is. And I think we're, are we expecting too much of work then? Are we expecting too much of our leaders to be able to handle all of that, think about all of that, and bring our people to better places in their lives?
Dan Pontefract: So I'll answer it in a counterintuitive way, and that is, Clare, I don't believe we've asked enough of leaders, which is why I encourage this work-life bloom model.
So I think we've left them off the hook. You know, what we've trained for years. Our management and leadership skills are really of one side of that coin. And I think, you know, for all the goodness that we have done and I'm guilty and at fault as well of this through years of me developing leaders inside organizations and outside, it behooves us to re-engineer what it means to be as a leader.
Again, it's, it's not about, helping a family with a life decision. Like, should you buy a new condo? That's not what I'm getting at. What I'm getting at is we should be having a far more empathic conversation with our team members. And I think HR and senior leaders have to be setting up the right constructs so that leaders are not off the hook, that they indeed can have humanistic, empathic conversations about the work and the life because they're so entwined, yet not balanced, right? Because my point is obviously you don't balance the two, they're just intertwined. Like think of two ropes. Let's call work rope one and life rope two. So when you want those ropes to work together, pun intended, I suppose you tie a knot.
If the knot is loose on one end, then one frays away or falls away. And the other is like, where'd you go? And vice versa for that. So it's a knot. We have to knot together work in life in this new day and age. And don't even get me started. Although I'd probably just started it right about. I mean, I'm 52 and I look at my kids who are 20, 18 and 16, I think about Gen Z and millennials and they're, they're just like dying and yearning for this.
It's like staring at us in the face. They're asking for their employer and their leader to care more ultimately about that work and life scenario. So want to go there?
Clare Kumar: Well, I do actually, because I think of the leaders from our generation, we're just a few years apart, and I've felt forward-thinking when it comes to leadership, being someone who's lobbied for humanity for 30 years in different ways, being in the corporate space and now outside it, I don't see our generation naturally coming to think the way you and I think, Dan, I think there's a lot of people.
And I remember being in a conversation with three CEOs last year. And one of them was forward-thinking, getting it absolutely understanding about environment, facilitating, and making room for people to have choice. Another extreme was another CEO was like, I just want everybody back in the office and to do their darn work.
That's how we just like, we don't need to talk about anything else. I have no interest in knowing anything else. And then the middle CEO, who by far had the largest company and impacted the most lives said, you know, Clare, when you say things, I often recoil at first, but then I think about it and what you say makes sense.
So I'm like, I'm hanging onto that, right? Because to me, that's the leader that I'm trying to reach. The one who's aware that, you know, things are probably going to have to shift. But I'm not even sure what that means, but I better pay attention and get on this. As opposed to the leader right now is like, everybody back in the office five days a week, we're just going to just hit rewind and you're going to suck it up or jump ship.
What's your feeling when you're in your circles and, with all the response to the writing you do, Forbes, HBR, what's your sense of where leaders of our generation are when we know that to your point, the next generation is saying, I deserve a more rich and fulfilling life and it looks a little different than what you guys were accepting.
Dan Pontefract: Oh gosh, how long do we got? There's a fair amount of fear. And the fear is more related to not of change per se, in my opinion, but, you know, from a boomer and Gen X perspective, the hard wiring that was done was about stiff upper lip, iceberg theory, only show one-eighth of your character and yourself and leave the other seven eights behind.
Wear a suit to work. Don't ask personal questions. Certainly don't comment on personal things because that's taboo. And potentially HR violations. I think HR is culpable by the way in this whole mess. And so, I think that fear is about being scared. About... Changing the way in which their definition of leadership has been for these years.
I don't think leaders in these types of roles are fearful of change, but I think it's the notion of what we've been used to that causes them the fear and that scaredy-cat-ness of Holy cow, I've been doing it wrong.
Clare Kumar: And I don't have a rule book for this new way.
Dan Pontefract: Exactly. Exactly. And if I show vulnerability that I've had this wrong for a while or a long while what does that make me as a leader?
Does that make me a great leader when now I've been doing it wrong, yet I have to admit that I need to do it better so that we have that humanity, that work-life rope, tying knot, if you will. That's what I'm seeing, there's glimmers of hope. There's lots and lots of good people that have figured it out, or are figuring out. But when I talk about the masses, there's a big job to do.
Clare Kumar: Yeah, that's what I'm sensing. And I do think there's fear. it, it's interesting when I look at this return to office, angst around it and belief that that's the way we need to work. I think there's also something anchored in to, it's easier to manage that which you can see.
This is getting into my productivity organization planning piece, right? And, you know, with everybody in different places, that's tougher on the leader. I don't think we've been taught the organization planning and really proactive intentional communication skills that we need. So not only do we now need to care about the whole human, oh my gosh, what does that mean?
But I also don't get to see them, or I don't get, like, how do I navigate this landscape of interaction, which has shifted so dramatically? Well, people are well out of their comfort zone.
Dan Pontefract: Oh, and I think that's exactly the point. They're well out of their comfort zone. They sort of had to put up with it and learn new muscles.
They didn't even know existed for the pandemic purposes. And yet what we've unleashed, and the genie is well out of the bottle is those work-life factors that allow that human being, so that individual that was under the tutelage of said leader, to say, there's more to this than just slogging away five days in a cubicle with AirPods on and a do not disturb sign on my chair, so can you help me find that right integrated, you know, computation between work and life so that There's a win-win here.
Yeah, you'll see me in the office. Does it have to be five? I sure hope not. Could we figure out if it's a white-collar management job of some sort that maybe one, two or three is the right balance inside the workplace, or I should say the office. And then, you know what? I need some flex. I've got three kids under the age of eight.
You know, I do want to become a director one day. I've been a manager for eight years, but now, you know, I still have to pick up kids after school or I want to be there for the one o'clock play that they're doing at the elementary school. Like whatever that thing is, that's the empathy that's missing because not everyone's being chauffeured to work at eight o'clock in the morning.
Clare Kumar: That's correct. And I don't think we see a lot of stories about leadership empathy. I know the book “Awakening Compassion at Work” is a really good one, and talking about stories, but I've been running leadership workshops for the past three years and talking about the leadership skills that you need to step into this role and have the empathy that you need.
And I will ask, so have you gotten a story about where you've shared a vulnerability as a leader or a leader has shared a vulnerability, a mistake they've made, something that they've done to show that they are, you know, somewhat imperfect humans as well? Mostly crickets in three years, like one, maybe two stories, there aren't examples.
There isn't the role modeling. So we're asking leaders to step into a new way of being and to think about their employees in a much deeper, broader fashion, but nobody's known how to do it. So I'm, I'm betting this work-life bloom model, the personas and the factors that you're talking about. Tell me what your hope is for the book and who you're hoping will read it. Let's end with that question.
Dan Pontefract: Well, first of all, thank you. And the real intent here is managers and above that are leading teams. And real hope is that that senior leadership team with the HR team involved sort of take a look at this and say, oh, right, we have been kind of thinking through this whole thing wrong, not terribly wrong, but wrong in a way that we need to shift, and if there are the, the right mechanisms of which to help leaders develop these new work and life conversation muscles, right.
The right organizational dynamics allow for this to happen. Like I'm a happy guy.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. I'm really focusing on productivity, which I've been a long student of, and inclusivity. And I think, you know, to your point about this research, I have yet to see one that breaks out neurodivergent people and their input, for example, because autonomy and agency is absolutely critical to that group of people to be able to maintain their energy and function.
So I'm hoping that this will be a fantastic invitation. I hope all the leaders of teams out there and leaders at home too. This is one of those books that's crossing work and life. And so understanding the dimensions on which to grow as a human. this is a great invitation to study that, understand that and Sort of understand the journeys that we're all going through ourselves and the people that are around us that we're looking to support. So thank you. Thank you for writing another marvellous book to add to your collection. I appreciate it.
Dan Pontefract: Clare, more of you, please. You've been a stalwart and a visionary when it comes to shaking up how this whole workplace work world work leadership needs to take shape and also your. Compelling evidence on how leaders need to be rethinking how the office and the work and the home office need to be integrated. I mean, that's part and parcel to what work-life bloom is. So my hat is tipped to you. Thanks for the invite. Thanks for the kudos, but more Clare Kumar, please in this world.
Clare Kumar: Amazing. I'll be following you along and championing everything you do. Dan, thanks for joining me today. And listeners, definitely tune in. Check out danpontefract.com. You can find all of his books there. And just follow Dan. You'll find his social media links at the bottom, and we'll put everything of course in the show notes. Dan, thanks so much again for joining me. And this I have to give you the award for the prettiest backdrop.
Dan Pontefract: I like to show that I'm blooming, so I might as well do that, and I appreciate that, Clare. You're awesome. I love you.
Clare Kumar: All right, take care, Dan. Thanks so much.
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