Executive coach Noomi Natan explains what leadership is and how we can tap into our inner leader.
Noomi Natan of noominatan.com
YouTube: Noomi Natan
LinkedIn: Noomi Melchior Natan
Pinterest: Noomi Natan Leadership
Noomi Melchior Natan is an Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant, Courage-Catalyst, Team-Trust-Builder, podcaster, wife and mother. For the past 12+ years she has coached leaders in more than 15 countries. Some of her clients are solopreneurs or start-ups, others are leaders in organisations such as LEGO House, Tesco, Mondelez, Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Services, British Gas, NBCUniversal, Mars, and BBC Studio.
She has never specialised in a specific industry or job type, because the work she does is in the deeply-human territory that applies to all human leaders.
Noomi is particularly passionate about inspiring those with big hearts and oceans of integrity to step up and lead in a bigger way, because she believes that what her grandfather shared: “The opposite of goodness is not evil – it’s indifference” is a message more people need to live by.
What you’ll learn in this episode
- Why you should go beyond your “symptoms” and explore where a pattern is coming from
- The difference between “leadership” and “management” and how leaders will change, shift or move something
- Why leaders need to the courage to get it wrong
- How acts of leadership can come from anywhere, not just from someone who has “manager” in their job title, and why you don’t need “permission” to be a leader
- Why you should start with leading yourself, whether it’s right for you and where you begin
- Why when you think you don’t have time is the time you should get coaching
- How to find places where you can practice your leadership skills, and why success is practising it in the first place, even if you don’t get the result you were after
- The four “zones”: incompetence, competence, excellence and genius, and why we should spend more time in our “zone of genius”
Resources mentioned in this episode
Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase. This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.
To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.
Episode 54: What is leadership and becoming a leader - with Noomi Natan of noominatan.com
Jeremy Cline 0:00
Are you a leader? Do you aspire to be a leader? You might not be in a position which has manager in the title, but does that mean that you can't exhibit leadership qualities? That's what we talk about in this episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.
Jeremy Cline 0:29
Hello and welcome to Change Work Life, the podcast that's all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. I'm delighted today to be joined by Noomi Natan, who's an executive coach and leadership consultant and the host of the Leadership Behind the Scenes podcast, and it's leadership that I asked Noomi onto the podcast to talk about today - what it is and how it can impact your career. Noomi, welcome to the podcast.
Noomi Natan 0:52
Thank you. I'm really happy to be here.
Jeremy Cline 0:55
Noomi, can you start by telling us a bit more about what it is you do, who you coach and how you help people?
Noomi Natan 1:01
I think I have one of the best jobs in the world. And this is actually how I got into coaching because I just wanted to do something I loved, and the fact you could get paid to do something you love - that just felt amazing. So for the last 12, almost 13 years, I have been coaching. I started coaching everyone from graduate up to CEO, now I coach more people in the leadership realm and sometimes people work for very large organisations, global multinationals. Sometimes they are small, independent family owned businesses or even solopreneurs. And I basically coach them on their leadership. Often people think that that means that I can help them do their job. And the truth is, I have no idea how to be general counsel or a Chief Fire Officer or CEO or a category manager or whoever else it is that I'm coaching. So what we work on is the inner leadership stuff, it is the power dynamics, the people dynamics that go on in organisations, and whether you're independent or whether you're working in a large organisation, there's loads of dynamics and power dynamics constantly to look at. And then it's our inner mostly unconscious blocks, some are conscious, but basically the kind of patterns and blocks we take with us wherever we show up. Some people will say what I go into is quite therapeutic work in that we will look at where your patterns really come from. So when a leader comes to me - I had a leader, for example, some years ago, and he'd been told he needed to work on how he showed up in meetings, he showed up too aggressive. So they said, Well, he needs to work on his communication skills and managing his temper. And when we started working together, I always find if you work on that, that doesn't really work. That's a symptom, you have to go deeper. We started digging into where this pattern might come from. And I never quite know how we get there because it's like we are detectives together exploring and what we found out was this pattern came all the way from childhood, from dynamic between his mom and his dad, and how he was always defending his mom. And every time someone was pushing his buttons at work, it brought back his need to defend his mom and to attack anyone who was attacking her. And so as we worked, we did one session on that specific dynamic. Well, a few months later, he was promoted, you know, because then all of the rest just falls into place. So that's the kind of work I do.
Jeremy Cline 3:24
And how did you get into it? What's your backstory? Were you doing something before you did coaching?
Noomi Natan 3:29
I did do something before I did coaching. No one when I was growing up in Denmark told me I could be a coach, and I just knew I liked communications and I like people. I moved to London and I went to a few different places in the world, had different jobs, and then I thought, Okay, I know I don't want to be a journalist. But out of all the options it seemed kind of cool to learn to - I guess as much as possible - master English, so Okay, I will do a journalism degree, knowing full well I didn't want to be a journalist. Went from there into commercial conference production, marketing jobs, got promoted quickly a couple of times and then had a big personal crisis, always the best way to change career isn't it. It got very painful, and I had time off work. So I had a quarterlife crisis. I was only 25 when I went off work with stress. I had two weeks off, then I went back because, you know, I had a project to deliver and there was a deadline, I wasn't gonna let that go. So even though obviously two weeks off was not nearly enough, I went back but then I started asking myself, okay, what do want to do, what do I want to do? And I kept coming back to 'something people, something people'. And I'd done personal development workshops in my spare time for my own development, for my own curiosity, for my own fun, and volunteered in a community. Through my search for figuring out what would align with my heart and what would really light me up and what would feel really fun to do every day, I was introduced to an executive coach, and this executive coach was great. He was introduced by an old boss of mine and he said, Okay, I'll meet with you. He met with me for two hours. And those two hours changed my life. Because at some point in those two hours, he said, you want to do what I do. And my jaw just dropped open, because I didn't know you could get paid to do this coaching thing, right? This was in 2007. So now coaching is much more popular. But at that time, it wasn't like everyone around the corner was a coach or wanted to be a coach. I didn't even know what to say, and I said what do I do, what do I do? And he said, Well, it doesn't matter. You're not ready yet. I said What do I do? He said, I think you have the talent, but you're not ready, it doesn't matter. And so what did I do, I went and got a very good job at a mobile games company, because I had some contacts and was a product marketing manager for a while there. But as soon as I started, you know, I was like, I know what I want to do. And so I was there for a while, and then I left and I started retraining.
Jeremy Cline 5:42
Fantastic. So let's move to the topic in hand - leadership. Very open question, what is it? And in particular, how does it differ from management?
Noomi Natan 5:51
It's such an important question. And I think the place - if we're going to start with why do we get tripped up about it - what happens mostly when people get their first what we think of as leadership role, it's because they get a title that has manager behind it. Business development manager, marketing manager. Often that's when you start having some kind of leadership formally embedded into your role. And this, I think, is where we start tripping up. But here's how I think about it. If you imagine that I'm your boss, and I'm going on holiday, and I say, Oh, can you manage this while I'm away? I guess my expectation and your expectation is you'll manage it, you'll kind of keep it the same. You'll make sure that the fort's still standing and everything's okay. And it kind of looks pretty much like I left it when I come back. Where if I say, I'm going away, can you either take a lead on this while I'm away or can you lead this while I'm away? I'm not expecting that it will be the same. I'm expecting that you have moved something Something has shifted and moved. Managing is in many ways, keeping the status quo, it's making sure that everything is okay and it's business as usual, and it's staying in the good condition that it hopefully is, whereas leading is changing something, it's moving things to a different direction. It's taking a bold and courageous move. Because to lead you have to be willing to get it wrong. You have to be willing to get it wrong because you don't know - it's not known yet, you're moving it into the next possible step. A lot of people think when I get a title, then I become a leader. And the title doesn't make you a leader. A title might give you a managerial responsibility for people or project. I think one of the first times I heard someone really explicitly say it was a guy called Robin Sharma who talked about the leader who had no title. Anyway, he talks a lot about leadership without title. And I think this is really important that acts of leadership, acts of leadership can come from anywhere. It is that bit of daring to change the status quo, it's to ask questions and going is this really the best way of doing this? Is there a better way we could serve our customers, our clients? Is there a better way of doing this or does the way we're doing these things really make sense? And have we paid attention to how the world is changing? Or what's possible now?
Jeremy Cline 8:10
So I think you've answered my next question, which was whether you actually need to lead other people in order to display these acts of leadership. But it sounds like you don't. I mean, if you've just got a particular job or task to do, but you're thinking about ways that you can improve it, make it better, then even though you might not necessarily be asking other people to join you in that - just the act of doing it yourself. Am I right in saying that is effectively a form of leadership?
Noomi Natan 8:40
I would definitely say that's an act of leadership. And of course, if you want to have a bigger impact, you need to have other people that align. I don't know if they follow but definitely align and create a movement around it or follow you or agree and want to take action in the same direction and you don't have to formally have them reporting to you. So more and more matrix organisations are very popular. And people may or may not have formal leadership over people. But it's quite a patriarchal parental form of leadership when we talk about, well, they have to report to me, for me to be able to get them to do something. Well, that means that you are relying on enforcement, it's like 'they will do what I say because I can influence whether they get a pay raise at the end of the year, and what their performance review will be'. Whereas I could say a more inspiring form of leadership is don't do what I say because I tell them to, they will follow along with me and contribute together in the same direction because they are just as excited and inspired about the difference we can make here or what we can do. And so that thing of people waiting to be formally told that now they can lead these people - I think that's a flaw in how we set up organisations and a flaw in anyone who wants to excel in whatever they do. It's like waiting for someone to give them permission and thinking when they get a certain title or certain role, then it all happens. I mean, mostly people get promoted because they show leadership way beyond the mandate that they had.
Jeremy Cline 10:04
Are there ways that you can kind of recognise in yourself that you might have leadership qualities? Are there any particular characteristics that you can recognise in yourself and think, Okay, yes, so I can do this?
Noomi Natan 10:18
Probably loads. So the first place I would start with this - is there something where you look at it and go, Wow, there is a better way of doing this. So there's sort of two combinations of things you need,you need to have an awareness, a consciousness about here's something that could be done differently. This isn't the best way. You do not, by the way, have to have the answer or the solution. Because if you're really working with creating something new and with what's emerging, you probably don't have the answer. I mean, if you have the answer it's old news already. You have to have that consciousness or awareness of what might need a shift or a change. And then the second thing is you need to have that courage to be willing to take action, to get it wrong, to put yourself out there and suggest something to people, put in a proposal, you know, set up an informal chat with someone and then go, how about this - to initiate a conversation. So you have to have that combination of courage and the combination of paying attention beyond just what is and thinking about what could be.
Jeremy Cline 11:18
Should everybody aspire to be a leader? Or is it something where it's just not within some people?
Noomi Natan 11:25
I think there are so many different ways you can lead, I would say start with leading yourself. I think too many people are complacent and just going well, if I can just you know, just hold on to how it is right now, it will be okay. Or I will enjoy my life or my work when when I get to this hurdle or you know, in a few years or when I retire, I think the first place to lead is to lead yourself, which means to look at, well, where could I evolve, improve, grow - to do some honest self assessment. And to look at actually, here's a few tiny places, I wouldn't start with loads, but choose one or two tiny places that you could improve your habits, you could improve your language, you can improve the way you show up. And so show up with more courage for yourself and for what you want and for what matters to you. And if everyone starts leadership, not with who can I dominate and make do what I want them to do, and can I get my agenda through? But could I shift and grow myself and lead myself - I think our world will change dramatically. So I would start from that bit. Some people will want to be at the top of an organisation or build an empire of their own, that probably isn't for everyone. And then that's not the point. But for me, the point is start with leading yourself and work on your inner leadership journey, because that's how you will thrive and we are in a world where I mean, everything is changing in ways we didn't expect. Maybe some people saw COVID coming, but I think most of us didn't expect the lockdown in countries to the extent that we have experienced and there have been so many unforeseen challenges and who knows what's next. So you really need to learn to lead yourself, navigate uncertainty and ambiguity and find out how to be strong in that because that is the only way to thrive - whether you want to be in charge of other people, which is one way of leading or whether you want to have a movement or a cause, you can decide that later. But definitely start with looking at leading yourself.
Jeremy Cline 13:31
Where do you start with that - this is probably going to be quite a novel concept to some people, where do you start?
Noomi Natan 13:37
I think people know themselves much better than they would often admit to themselves. So I think with a piece of paper, and a pen, or a dialogue with a trusted friend and write down what I know I do really well and what am I really proud of and what do I love doing and then on the other hand, what do I know that these are bad habits, these are places where I play small. These are ways that I limit my impact. You know, it might be I know I'm very negative. I always get told that and I know I'm a very negative person. And I just always see what could go wrong. That's one way of limiting what's possible. Or I'm afraid of the unknown. I like to stay safe. And so even though I complain about my current job, the devil is better than whatever else might be possible. So writing down and doing an honest self assessment about where you're at - that is the first place. It's like looking in the mirror and being honest about what you actually see. Then dialoguing with some trusted people about what do you notice. The first piece is noticing, being aware of what is and sharpening your noticing skills, then you can decide on what you want to do something about. But sometimes people want - I mean the amount of times when I've had a client that really has gotten so much out of the coaching, they go, can you coach my husband and my sister and my direct reports and this other person and I say, well, maybe, but and they're like, I'll pay for them, I'll pay for them, they don't have to think about the money, I'll pay for them. That's a very generous gift. But let's first see if there's an opening in that person, do they even want to shift and change because any growth, any inner leadership requires you to go to places that are unknown, unfamiliar. And that can feel scary or painful, you have to kind of really look yourself and see clearly in the mirror. And so people have to be willing to go there. And so that's the first place, is honest self assessment. Start noticing and ask yourself, What am I actually up for shifting, doing something about. If you're totally happy with the status quo, you know, leave this conversation. This is not for you. If you're totally happy with absolutely everything in your life and work and how everything is, well be there.
Jeremy Cline 15:49
I'd like to explore this just a little bit further. So your client who is now a raving fan of yours and wants everyone to take up your services. Now I absolutely take your point that some people won't want it, won't need it, in a place where they're perfectly happy. A lot of people though, this will be coming to them as something that's brand new, that's completely alien to them. And it might be something that will be of benefit to them. But it's just something where they haven't even got to the starting line, because they just weren't even aware that this was something out there. And I can also see how your client who wants everyone to use your services could come across to these people as being quite annoying and a busybody and someone who's just trying to make people change when they don't really want to change or maybe they do want to change, they just don't know it. So how could your client start to - in a gentle, non threatening, positive way - encourage people to start thinking about this sort of thing, to start taking those first steps to consider whether or not this is something that they should go through?
Noomi Natan 16:57
Well, sharing their own experience. Sharing what they got out of it. The personal evidence that someone got something massive out of it and it was worthwhile. It's the best starting point and the best motivation. And then if people want to just dip their toes, yeah, they can listen to podcasts. Obviously we're in the podcast medium, there are books, but they could listen to the podcast medium or do some online courses but also lots of us coaches - and I still do keep thinking about whether I'm going to keep doing this but for right this moment, I still offer free consultations. Having coaching and having support, so much about that and that being a good experience and that working for you is finding a match that works for you. And you probably have to speak to the person or at least listen to them. Lots of people are out there listening to interviews with people or reading their work and so get a feel for Do I like what they say? Does this inspire me and talk to me? And then I would dip my toe in the water and have a conversation with a coach for example and check out and see how does that feel? Because I do have a lot of people that go Oh, I didn't even know this was possible. I didn't even know we could go here and I would get this much out of it or this was possible. And some people get that as a gift from their employer. Their employers say, well, we're sending these 10 people to coaching because they are our high potentials and so you get some coaching. And then for me when I get someone like that, we often have the line manager on the first call, and the line manager says, This is what I want the person to get out of it. But honestly, and I will declare that upfront when the line manager is there say, Okay, well then afterwards, you go off and I'm going to ask the person, what do they want? Because it has to be that personal opening. So when someone wants their husband or wife or someone else to get coaching, it's like, yeah, so if someone near and dear to you wants you to shift in a different direction... What do you want? Forget them for a second, coaching is confidential. I won't report back to that person at all. If we start a coaching relationship, this is a completely confidential conversation. If you could imagine getting something really useful out of it what might change as a result, and so people get more curious about how does the coaching work. The better place to start is imagine that something amazing could shift in how you feel about yourself, in what is possible in your life, in the rewards and recognitions and things that you can make happen and then go from that place and then ask a coach, can you help me with this?
Jeremy Cline 19:22
Do you find that employers are quite enlightened when it comes to recommending and supporting their employees in getting coaching? Or are they a bit sort of reticent, reluctant? And I guess there's two kinds of arguments which I could see that perhaps the less enlightened employers might throw up against supporting employees with coaching. One is that they see coaching as being the preserve of the more senior people, as those are the people who should get coaching because that would be of more benefit to the business, whereas from what you're saying this whole sort of coaching and and leadership can come from any place within a business. And so it's not necessarily the case that it should be just the preserve of senior people. And the other thing, I suppose is whether there's a perceived risk following on exactly from what you were saying that if you start a coaching relationship with an employee, then that might lead them to believe or lead them to conclude that they're not actually in the right place. And so they might want to seek alternative avenues.
Noomi Natan 20:26
There's so much to say about this, so if I don't fully answer your question just pick me up on it! So are people or are employers enlightened. There's such a wide variety about how organisations look at learning and development, training and coaching. There are some that use it as - I don't like the word performance management because that usually means you're on your way out, so there's that 'Well, we gave it a last go and we can prove if there's an employment tribunal that we gave this person coaching and they didn't shift' - that is not the kind of coaching that I'm a fan of, because at that point people have usually made up their mind. Then there's loads of organisations that do invest very often in what they think of as their high potentials. But I have coached all the way down from graduates. Again, graduates that they believe are high potentials, potential future leaders, and all the way up to the CEO. There are a few different things. Sometimes when organisations do this, they're trying to fix a symptom. And so they go well, if these people get better at leadership, and we'll send them off and we'll do some workshops, we might be doing some workshops with them and some coaching and then they'll come back and then the organisation will improve, but we won't really send the senior leadership because the senior leadership, the CEO and the C team - they're too busy. Then what happens is, if we're successful then the population we're coaching, they're shifting and changing, but the organisation and the actual root cause of what was growing in the organisation, that didn't change. And that's when very often when we're successful because the leaders shifted, but the person that got the coaching and development shifted, and then they no longer really fit in the organisation, and then they leave. I always ask for permission and say listen, we have to have that out on the table. As a result of this someone might leave and the employer usually says, I know that, that's okay - because the job of an organisation isn't just to hold on to people for dear life and go you need to stay forever. It is to evolve and grow people and if there's no longer space for them, because they have grown beyond whatever they can gain, then it's right that they go off and if they have a graceful, dignified ending, they will be a major ambassador of that organisation and they might come back later on and send other great people that way. If they leave on sour terms, the reputation of the organisation gets a different flavour. So some organisations are very aware and enlightened and helpful and other organisations are not, and do it as a remedial 'Here's a symptom. Let's do it.' Sometimes that still helps. Years ago I was coaching 60 people in an organisation, a huge retailer had put two roles together, and they all were obviously massively upset - same pay, and they'd seen their colleagues leave, and they now had the old role plus a new role. And they just had to manage that, make that happen. So they got three coaching sessions, I have to say that was probably less coaching and more complaint listening, just giving them a space to voice what was going on for them. This wasn't about moving them so much as allowing them to have the experience that they were having. First session, most of them were frustrated, feeling like they had been betrayed, looking around, thinking of leaving. By the last session, five or less percent I would say, were interested in leaving. Most of them at that point had found their passion, their loyalty again, because they'd had a space to process what was happening. So some organisations - even though that was remedial than fixing the symptom - it was still very wise, because they knew internally they probably wouldn't handle that space. And so they outsourced that space. So it can happen in all kinds of ways. Did I answer your question? I'm not sure I did.
Jeremy Cline 24:00
Yes you did, thank you. And I wanted to follow up on that. I mean, is there a case do you think for employers to offer some kind of coaching to literally everyone in an organisation from the C-suite directors, all the way to the facilities team and the post room team, which is not in any way to denigrate those roles, those are absolutely crucial. But you know, the roles that aren't seen as being senior. Should everyone be offered this kind of coaching?
Noomi Natan 24:00
I don't like 'should', because I don't think that's helpful. I would definitely say anyone in a senior role - if your organisation isn't paying for it, look at paying for it yourself. I mean, really, if you have a good salary, what investment is better than in investing in yourself? I always say to someone, if you don't have time for coaching, you probably need it the most. And I had a client once who phoned me at the time of our coaching session, and she said, I didn't want to be rude and not show up, but I don't have time to do this coaching session. I know you're going to charge me, that's okay, I have a deadline in two hours or whatever it was, I have to get on with it and I don't have time for the coaching, but thank you and I respect you. And I said, hang on Wait, we don't have to do a full hour coaching. Just stay for a moment. And I have since been to large company events with this particular person, and she will go on and publicly tell anyone that will listen how what we did in the next 10, 15 minutes is what she always come back to when she thinks she doesn't have time. When you think you don't have time and you think 'I've just got to get on and do it' - that's the time when you need the most reflection and really how you show up changes everything. I think everyone needs mechanisms by which they check themselves, by which they stop and get out of the weeds of their to do list and their inbox and scan and go am I working on the right thing? How am I doing? Where am I hiding? Where could I be more courageous? How's it going? Who did I forget? Paying attention to what am I not noticing? That I think everyone would benefit from doing. I don't think everyone needs coaching every time all the time. But I definitely think that if you believe a population in your organisation is worthwhile, and you think that they have more to contribute, yeah, investing in them, you'll get more out of them. For sure.
Jeremy Cline 26:18
Hmm, yeah, I just can't help thinking that this is something that a very enlightened organisation might literally offer to everyone, on a no obligation basis, but explain to everyone that this is on offer. This is why it might be of interest to you. If it is of interest, then phone this number or whatever it might be - I can see how that could be incredibly valuable actually, from sort of top to bottom.
Noomi Natan 26:41
Yeah, and it's often more complicated, so very often this doesn't happen, but I have done shared payment, which I'm quite a fan of where for example, the employee goes I'll pay 25%, sometimes 50%, but otherwise 25% and the organisation will pay 75, for example, and that also works really well. We've all got skin in the game. I like it when the employee also has some skin in the game, instead of bonuses or all kinds of other things you could be offered. I actually recently interviewed - and it will come out on my podcast - an interview with a supply chain consultancy called Hatmill. What they do, they don't have any line manager structure at all. One of the ways that that really works for them is because they have an external executive coach, and everyone is offered, you don't have to take it up. But I think most people take up the offer of having a monthly coaching session. So all the people stuff, all the personal stuff, all that stuff that you're not quite sure how to manage, they have someone that is a dedicated professional and has a process around how to support them through the people stuff. And that means that the organisation works much smoother and they're much more successful than if they had to figure out how to navigate that internally, because people now don't just go up to someone and have a thing with them - they first get some support around Okay, well what's a good way to navigate this personality tension or whatever that's going on. And that saves organisations so so much energy and it can save the whole environment.
Jeremy Cline 28:06
Let's say you're listening to this podcast and you're not in a management position, and you don't perceive yourself as being in any kind of leadership position, but you can see that things could be improved - but maybe it's a very hierarchical organisation and you're just reluctant to speak to people to suggest changes. And I'm thinking I mean, even something like being on the checkout at supermarkets - in what you do you see how things could be improved. And I speak from personal experience when I was doing the checkouts when I was at college. You got the impression that no one would listen to you and your immediate superiors just wouldn't be interested. So how can you sort of help that person out to have the courage to speak up and find the right person to speak to and to try and make sure that what what they say at least is well received even of it's not acted on?
Noomi Natan 29:01
Okay, so I'd say two things. First up, if you don't feel like you can fully practice this where you are right now in terms of your paid work - well, it's like, you know, if you want to run a marathon, you don't just go to the marathon. Start running. So find somewhere else where you could practice your leadership. So whether that is becoming the class rep at your son or daughter's school and taking some leadership there or whatever you can do in your local community, setting up some kind of group or volunteering in an organisation, in some shape or form exercising your courage and leadership muscle where you are proactive and do something. So that's what I would say is if you feel limited and it if it feels like it's a step too far or too scary to start where you're at, go exercise that muscle somewhere else because then that muscle will get stronger and then it will get easier to do it at your work. Now at your work there are different levels. And I'll give you an example of a client of mine because often people go, Well, what does this proactive leadership really look like. I was coaching a client and she was getting promoted while I was coaching her. She moved into a team and she didn't like the way that was structured. What most people will do when they get this new leadership - she had already been in leadership before but you know, it was a quite a big promotion. And what most people would do when they get to that they're like, well, I'll be quiet for a while. And then later on, I'll see if I can say something about how it's structured. That's not what she did. She went a step further. The next step would be to kind of say to your leader, to your line manager. Well, I don't think this is working the best, I don't quite like it. That's not what she did. She did a step further, because that often sounds a bit like complaining and that's just draining your leaders energy. It's like, Yeah, okay. Sure. You know, this is the way it is. She thought it could be done in a better way. So some people would then go and say to the leader, I don't think this is the best way, can I do it another way? No, she didn't do that. She went a step further. She at home, looked at things and went this isn't the best way it could be, how could it be better? She made the plan. Then she went to her leader and said here, I think it could be done better. She has a suggestion. What do you think? And the leader said, Wow, that's really good. I like it. You can go ahead with it. Not now you have to wait six months, some other things have to get in place. But yes, there you go. And so what most people do when they start trying to lead or to say how things could be different is they sort of point out what's wrong, that isn't actually that helpful. Most of us can see something isn't quite right. It takes more courage and more imagination to sit and imagine, well, how could it be different? What are some different scenarios and then the key when you're presented is to be okay, with the person just dismissing it, or them not listening to it. Don't expect that the success of the intervention is the reaction of the person you're sharing it with, the success is that you did create something - that you were creative and courageous enough to come up with a different way and you went, and you knocked on someone's door and you got a chance to voice it. That is the success. Whether people like it or not, whether it will be implemented or not - if you get attached to that you will never, ever make anything happen because that's like trying to write a book and needing it to be a best seller. And if you need to write a best seller, you can't write a single word. So you have to not be attached to the outcome or what it is, but reward yourself and give yourself lots of self praise for getting out of a comfort zone and being courageous and creative.
Jeremy Cline 32:33
Brilliant. That's absolutely fantastic advice, I absolutely love that. Noomi have you got any tools or resources that you can point people to if they want to look into this a little bit more?
Noomi Natan 32:44
Well, people often ask me what's the best leadership book to read. And I mostly don't like leadership books. I very often actually recommend a communication book, which I don't like the title, but it's called Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg, there are many books in that series. So you want the original one. So Marshall B Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication, A Language of Life, I think it's called. And that is such good basic communication skills. Because at the fundamental of being a good people leader is really looking at how do you communicate with others. How do you communicate your needs, and how do you understand others. And the other book, probably the book I recommend the most is a book called The Big Leap by a guy called Gay Hendricks. Really, really helpful doesn't tell you how to lead either. But it teaches you about your own limitations, and it starts giving you some insight into what is the kind of work that really lights you up. And this is probably the kind of book that will really speak to your audience if they're a bit fed up and they have the Sunday night blues. The Big Leap really helps you look at why you might be stuck in the zone of excellence what he calls the zone of excellence and how you get to your zone of genius. So that is a very worthwhile and often life changing book for people.
Jeremy Cline 34:02
Can you just talk about that? So the difference between the zone of excellence and the zone of genius?
Noomi Natan 34:07
Yes. Okay. So we have to put in the other two zones - so there's zone of incompetence, competence, excellence and zone of genius. Incompetence, me changing a tyre of any kind of vehicle, I'm totally incompetent have no interest in learning. A zone of competence, I would say cleaning. I mean, my husband sometimes doesn't agree. It's not something I enjoy, it's a good thing for me to outsource. I mean until other people enjoy this. It could also be me doing my own accounts. I'm not particularly great at that, you know, I can do it. I can get by and follow the HMRC rules, but not competent, good thing for me to outsource. I don't have a particular interest in getting better at it either. Zone of excellence and zone of genius is where it gets interesting. And most of the clients I coach are stuck in excellence. It means you're better than most people at doing what you do, you can earn a good living - probably keep getting work, and it's okay, you can do it, but it drains you, you're tired at the end of the day. Because the difference when you get to your zone of genius is you do work and it lights you up. You know, when you have days where you worked really hard, but it was fun. So you're tired. But you're also energised because it gave you energy. It's the kind of days where you do stuff where you're like, wow, is that the time? I didn't know, three hours had passed. You were doing something that just gave you so much energy. And no job, whether you're running your own business, or whether you're unemployed, no job, or business is ever 100% in your zone of genius, but the job for us is to spend more time in our zone of genius. That's where we do things that just come easy to us. It doesn't mean we are Einstein, it doesn't mean we're geniuses at it, but it's something that works with our natural strengths and interests and passions. And so it gives us energy as well as it takes some effort, but it feels like fun. It's like when I had my first coaching session, and I was like Oh, AND I get paid for it! I got paid 22.50 but I thought I had made it! I did something I loved and I got paid for it. And so the reason why the book is called the Big Leap is he says it takes courage to say no to zone of excellence offers and to go into unknown territory of zone of genius.
Jeremy Cline 36:17
Wow, I love that. I absolutely love that framework. That's fantastic. Brilliant. Noomi, you have provided so much great stuff here, so much great content. Where's the best place that people can go if they want to find you and get in touch with you?
Noomi Natan 36:30
They can go to noominatan.com. There are several freebies on the web page. Also, they can get the whole module one of role model your way which is an inner leadership course. So if they go to noominatan.com/rolemodel. On social I'm mostly on LinkedIn as Noominalja Natan and Leadership Behind the Scenes, the podcast. I actually have a whole episode on zone of genius because I keep talking about it. So I have recorded a whole podcast episode on trying to understand your zone of genius. That's another good place to find me.
Jeremy Cline 37:01
Brilliant. I will link to all of those in the show notes. Noomi, thank you so much.
Noomi Natan 37:06
Such a pleasure to be here.
Jeremy Cline 37:08
All right, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Noomi Natan. I really loved Noomi's description of one of the aspects of leadership as being seeing how something can be improved and taking action upon it. Not necessarily going to a manager and saying, here's a problem, but going to a manager and saying, here is something that I think could be done better, and this is how I suggest it's done. It's kind of a win-win situation. Not only are you showing that you've got the initiative, but you're also presenting a solution to your manager rather than a problem. This idea of exercising the leadership muscle as well. So practising and this is another theme that's come throughout - the idea of needing to practice things, and in this case, exercising your leadership muscle and practising your leadership skills - recognising that what you say may not be well received or may not be acted on, but you can still congratulate yourself on having taken that action, on having practised, on having given it a go. Being okay celebrating the fact that you take yourself outside of your comfort zone, even if it doesn't necessarily result in what you might like it to. Links to where you can find Noomi and the resources that she mentioned or on the show notes page for this episode, they're at changeworklife.com/54. And I've recently expanded my social media circles so I used to concentrate just on Facebook but now I'm on both Twitter and Instagram so you can find me there at changeworklife. So do follow me there, you'll find out all the latest updates, posts on the new episodes. So yeah, it would be great if you could follow me on social media on whatever your preferred medium is. Next week, we're talking about CVs or resumes if you're in the US - what it takes to put together a great resume and how you get it through both the electronic review process and also the human review process. There's some really really valuable tips. So do stick around and I can't wait to see you in that episode. Cheers. Bye.
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