Episode 191

How To: Be An Emotionally Intelligent Leader with Carolyn Stern and Daisy Wright

This month, we hear from a emotional intelligence expert and a career coach so you can explore how to be an emotionally intelligent leader for your team.

Episode Overview

Expressing our emotions at work is not always easy, but what if paying more attention to our behaviours and emotional needs made us better leaders? Leaders who could hire according to their emotional inventory, operate in a more self aware state and create emotionally in tuned and strong teams that support business growth.

Daisy Wright, who supports folks as they transition in their careers and guides them as they enter leadership roles, discusses how emotions show up at work for first time leaders – providing examples we can all learn from. Carolyn Stern, an emotional intelligence instructor and expert, draws on Daisy’s experience to illustrate principles and tactics that will encourage you to feel what you feel, deeply, so you can be an emotionally strong leader.


Daisy Wright is the Founder and Chief Encouragement Officer of The Wright Career Solution and an award-winning executive career coach.

Carolyn Stern is the author of The Emotionally Strong Leader and is the President and CEO of EI Experience, an executive leadership development, and emotional intelligence training firm.


Check out more resources from Carolyn: https://eiexperience.com/resources/emotional-intelligence-tools/
Check out Carolyn’s book
Check out Daisy’s services and Daisy’s books  
The Gottman Institute’s Feelings Wheel 
Book: How to be an Inclusive Leader by Jennifer Brown
Book: Expect to Win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace by Carla Harris
Book: The Little Black Book of Success – Laws of Leadership for Black Women by Elaine Meryl Brown, Marsha Haygood and Rhonda Joy McLean
Book: Better Allies – Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces by Karen Catlin
Book: TRUST – Twenty Ways to Build a Better Country by Rt. Hon. David Johnston (Former Governor General of Canada)
Book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck 
Book: No Limits, How to Blow the Cap off Your Capacity by John Maxwell 

Episode 191

Episode Transcript

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  00:43
Welcome to the show, Daisy and Carolyn.

Carolyn Stern (EI Experience)  02:47
Thanks for having me. 

Daisy Wright (Career Coach)  02:51
Thank you!

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  02:51
I am so excited about this conversation, it is such a great way to kick off the year. And I cannot wait to learn more about both of your experiences in this space and get lots of practical resources from us. We have all the practical resources here. So before we dive into all things, emotional intelligence, like women, leaders, and all that good stuff, let’s learn a little bit more about each one of you and your background. Daisy, let’s kick off with you, how long have you been working in this space? And why did you decide to guide others through their careers, and walk us through that journey?

Daisy Wright (Career Coach)  03:21
I have been doing this for a long time, since 2004, but people need to know that my business started before that. But it took me time to dive into it full-time. And women need to know that you don’t just go into business and everything starts working immediately. So I got into executive career coaching in 2004. And it came about because I was frustrated in the workplace, not being promoted not getting, you know, feeling as if I was stuck, I had reached the concrete ceiling and just couldn’t, couldn’t move. And I started to examine myself and I said one day Daisy, there’s so much more to you than this crap. And so it kind of started the journey into my business. But in addition, I also started getting an opportunity to teach in the Faculty of Business at Sheridan College here in Brampton. And it was at a time when somebody said Who told you you can teach? And I said watch me because those are my watch phrases. Watch me and jump forward to two now, where I have been doing this for wide coaching, as you said at the beginning emerging leaders, executives, and mid-career professionals, to help them find satisfying careers. And so I have used my experience to coach my clients.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  04:59
and Carolyn, what did entering the emotional intelligence and leadership development space look like for you to walk us through your journey?

Carolyn Stern (EI Experience)  05:06
Well, to be honest, I was sick and tired of listening to successful leaders talk to me about how showing emotions should cause shame. And being emotional was a sign of weakness. And I realized that there were so many people, younger generations and older generations that didn’t have an emotional education, me included, right? I didn’t have superb, emotionally intelligent role models or parents, I grew up, I grew up, you know, in a family that probably like many of you, many of your listeners, you know, emotions weren’t discussed. And it took me 20 years of research to kind of get into, you know, why are we so afraid of emotions, you know, they’re, they’re not final, they’re not always factual. They’re fleeting, and they come and go, they’re incredibly personal. And it’s hard to be an objective bystander. And it wasn’t that I was an emotional person that was getting me in heaps of trouble. Being emotional just means I feel things deeply. What was getting me in trouble is I wasn’t learning how to manage my emotions. And so like I said, for 20 years now, I’ve done a ton of research in the field and on my own, of really kind of understanding how you be in the driver’s seat of your emotions. And that’s what I’ve been doing since I’ve been training people, corporations, and students alike, how to be in the driver’s seat of their emotions.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  06:32
I love that. And this topic comes up so often, specifically for women entrepreneurs, navigating their emotions, the perception of women being potentially too emotional to be incredible leaders. And this ridiculous sort of perceptions that you know, that you’re potentially not worthy of as much investment because of that emotion, and what that could do to your business and sort of this fear around it, which is fascinating to see, because we have so many incredible statistics to show that women are incredible leaders and using emotion in business is a really powerful tool. We covered this a little bit in the last podcast that we did about mindsets and talking about the power of emotions, and this, you know, sort of public perception and how we view women to be too emotional in business or to be leaders of different entrepreneurial ventures. Carolyn, have you heard this a lot over the years? Are you seeing this conversation shift a little bit? How does that settle with you?

Carolyn Stern (EI Experience)  07:34
Well, absolutely. I mean, one of the most common labels women in the workplace receive is being too emotional. And as a child, I was told I was too emotional. Well, guess what? I’m making a living out of it. Now the issue is, is not that we’re emotional, all emotional means is you feel things deeply. But it discredits women’s ideas or undermines their authority, and emotions, if we can start to believe our superpower. It’s the factor that leads to more engagement, collaboration, creativity and innovation, and happiness. If I can connect to you on a heart level, that is what’s going to engage you in the workplace. That’s what’s going to make you seen, see, be seen as, you know, feeling valued and appreciated for your efforts.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  08:22
That’s such a helpful reframing. Carolyn, I think that’s powerful for a lot of our listeners, Daisy as a coach, you support folks as they’re entering into new roles, new leadership transitions, and navigating other transitions in their careers. What are you seeing with women in particular, do you see enough women applying for leadership roles and companies taking on leadership by being the CEO of their venture and choosing entrepreneurship? What are you seeing these days?

Daisy Wright (Career Coach)  08:46
There is no shortage of women applying for leadership roles, for sure. Because we as women are just as ambitious as men. And we want to advance so that’s the first thing. But there seems to be, as I mentioned earlier, a concrete wall that they can’t get through. When we think that in Canada, women make up just over half of the Canadian population, yet they continue to be underrepresented in professional leadership positions. Despite spending the equivalent time at a job, they are less likely to be promoted. Women are 30% less likely than men to get promoted out of an entry-level position. And they’re 60% less likely to move from middle management into the executive ranks and these figures are from the Canadian Women Foundation. The point is because of that gap, it becomes harder for women to, for those who aspire to be in the C suite, for example, it becomes harder for them to catch up and narrow that gap. But one of the things I tell women leaders is that you don’t need a title, to be a leader, many things that we as women are doing, we are leading, but we sometimes get stuck on this title, I have to be the CEO or the SVP to prove who I am. And that’s not necessarily the case, the title, yes, comes with prestige and all of that, but we should not use that to devalue the contributions that we’re making in the workplace and society in general. Now, in terms of women who are migrating to entrepreneurship, yes, we do have, I have found several people who are entering entrepreneurship, but what they’re doing, they’re looking at a hybrid situation. And that’s actually how I started my business where you have a goal of starting your business, but you’re not just going to jump into it right away, you’re going to survey the landscape and say, Do I have the skills? If I don’t have the skills? What do I need to learn to jump into my business? Do I have the money to leave my full-time job and go into entrepreneurship? And if you don’t have the money, that’s when you are saying to yourself, Okay, I am going to continue working. But my plan is over the next several years, I will make my plans to enter entrepreneurship. And that’s the route that I I took. So I use two part-time jobs while I was building my business before I was able to launch to go into it full-time.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  12:01
Amazing. And do you think that you know, looking at first-time leaders, that transition it’s very challenging coming from a traditional organization and doing this for the first time independently, potentially, with that kind of side hustle? Or with that very early stage venture? Do you see a lot of challenges in navigating those two very, very different worlds? What are you seeing when people are trying to create a fantastic team that might just be two people navigating the first-time leadership hurdles? How might they be feeling? What can leaders make sure that they do when they feel comfortable either navigating through that, that first side hustle, or their first full-time big leap into entrepreneurship?

Daisy Wright (Career Coach)  12:44
Yeah, it’s challenging from all sides. Because one, you’re entering an arena that you’re not familiar with. And you start thinking, how am I going to manage? How am I going to be the chief, the chief bottle washer here, meaning I’d be responsible for admin, I may be responsible for marketing, I will be responsible for going out there and telling people about the work that I do. So it’s challenging. But what women should do is surround themselves with people and not only women with people who have the skills that they need, but also mentoring and also sponsorships. Talk with people who have already been there, attend professional conferences, join professional organizations, your local chamber of commerce, or Board of Trade, they are there to help you build your business. And of course, you need a group of people in the workplace, I tell my clients to create what we call a PBO, their Personal Board of Advisors. And these can be mentors. These can be good friends, these can be sponsors, people who will help you to progress in the field that you’re going in whether at work or in entrepreneurship. And you don’t have to get people who will agree with you all the time. You need people who will tell you the truth so that you can avoid the pitfalls that many people have fallen into when they enter entrepreneurship. So like I said it can be challenging from different angles. In terms of managing staff. Sometimes it’s difficult to even manage yourself as an independent research. You need to be self aware and you need to know what is my weak point, or how do I come across when I’m speaking to somebody else? Am I this Bossy, Bossy type tho wants things done any and any way, or am I the person who’s going to say, let’s sit and talk, what needs to get done? How can I help you as my  support person? How can I help you? And how can we together, build a business or create an environment that will benefit both of us? So yes, it’s gonna be challenging on all fronts. But if you have the energy and the passion and the perseverance, to handle and to tackle those challenges, then success will be yours at some point down the road.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  15:56
Hmm, I love that. And Carolyn, pulling on that string a little bit as well, like looking at first time leaders that are maybe making that first hire, they’ve never interviewed folks before, they’re not entirely sure what they’re really looking for, because they, you know, are wearing every single hat of their business. This is a challenging time for many founders. And we see this be a really important milestone for a lot of women in our network in particular, how can entrepreneurs balance knowing all of the technical needs, understanding the support that they actually need in the business, while also ensuring that they’re emotionally in tune through the hiring and recruiting process? And looking at this through the lens of emotional intelligence? What does that look like for a new founder?

Carolyn Stern (EI Experience)  16:39
Well, the very first thing I did was, when I went from a solopreneur, to a legitimate small business where I have now 10 staff is I did an emotional inventory of what I was strong in and what I wasn’t strong in. And once I knew what I wasn’t strong in. So in my case, I lack independence. And people are always surprised by that. Because I own my own company. I’m financially independent, I’m not married. But I had and still have a very overprotective mother. And so as a child, I kind of grew up with her being a helicopter parent and kind of hoovering over me and not teaching me how to stand on my own two feet. When I was looking for new hires, I looked for independent people. And in fact, one of the resources that I would love people to download on our website, is we actually give free emotional, intelligent questions for when you’re interviewing. So when you can interview, you know, how do I look for someone? You know, what is the kind of question I ask, you know, tell me about a time when you were self directed and, you know, needed to make a decision? And you know, not a lot of people were on your side, how did you stay self directed and independent with your thoughts, and not care about so much about what people thought and still stand? You know, stand your way? That could be a great question to ask a new hire. I think the key is, and it goes back to, you know, the challenge that we have in schools right now, is we focus so much on IQ, which is your cognitive intelligence, right? It’s your level of reasoning and your problem solving. But much ado, has not been made about emotional intelligence, right, which is, you know, how well do we use the information our emotions provide as data to make good decisions in the face of daily challenges? How well are all of you able to manage, express and understand your emotions? How great are you at being able to build social relationships? And how great are you at solving problems and thinking clearly, under pressure? I mean, the thing is, you’ve got it, take a look at yourself, and kind of figure out what am I good at? What am I not so good at. And in the book, The Emotionally Strong Leader I talk about, and this is one of the reasons I wrote the book. And by the way, it’s called the emotionally strong leader for a personal reason. You can be emotional and strong, you’re not mutually exclusive. Right? Just because I feel things deeply does not mean that I am not a badass businesswoman. I can make really good rational choices. I just feel things I feel passion very strongly, but I also you know, Kayla, Daisy, I feel hurt as well. So when someone hurts me, it hurts me deeply. But that doesn’t mean that my emotions are in the driver’s seat. I just need to learn the tools on what is my emotional makeup and what works for me and what doesn’t work for me. So there are 15 different emotional intelligent muscles inside of us. Some of them are over utilized. Some of them are underutilized and some of them are just right. And when you go to the gym, right, supposedly I have a six pack under here. If I want to bring that out, I need to do more curls right if I want bigger biceps, I need to do more bicep curls. If I you know, if I want a tighter core, I need to do more crunches. The key is is you’ve got to figure out what are you strong in? What are you not so strong in? And what are you too strong in? And so for me, as I said, I’m low in Independence, well, one that I’m too strong in is I’m really flexible. So as a leader, sometimes I flip flop. So if an employee wants sushi, I say, okay, sure, let’s have sushi and another employee wants Italian, I say, Okay, let’s have Italian. And because I care too much about what people think I’m flip flopping, well, that’s not a good combination. So in my case, my leadership challenge and work that I have to do is I have to be a little bit more stringent, and lower my flexibility and put my lat, you know, line in the sand and say, No, we’re going for Greek, and be a little bit I have to care a little bit less about what people think. But until you understand your emotional makeup, what makes you who you are good, bad and ugly, then how are you able to know who to hire? I basically took my business to a legitimate small business, because I finally hired people who had what I didn’t. And so it’s having those deeper conversations, it’s finding out what makes your employees tick, what motivates them? What stresses them out? What what, how do they want to feel appreciated? What does work life balance look like for them, those as I call it in the book, those inner iceberg conversations, that’s what you know, much of our communication and our actions is colored by what’s below the surface, right? Our past experiences, our personal history, or attitudes, or emotions, or thoughts or beliefs or assumptions, or, you know, aspirations are our motivators, our stressors, our fears, all of that leaders need to be brave enough to have those deeper conversations when hiring and recruiting so that you can get to know the people that are going to be joining your company.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  22:03
That was a beautiful run through Caroline, of so many things that I want to unpack a little bit further. One, one kind of follow up question to that around even the personal assessment of going through your own EQ. Is that something that you should be doing independently as an im self survey what Kayla’s strengths are and what Kayla’s weaknesses are? Or is that an exercise where you actually need to get, you know, Daisy’s point, this board of advisors to, you know, maybe show you some of those spots that you might not be seeing? What’s that process look like to actually self-identify or get that feedback from an external trusted advisor within your network?

Carolyn Stern (EI Experience)  22:39
Well, it’s the first three steps of my six-step model. So the first step is to connect with yourself. So take an inventory of yourself, what am I good at? What am I not so good at? And what am I too good at? Right? Which is what I call the dark side of emotional intelligence.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  22:52
What am I too good at? That’s so interesting!

Carolyn Stern (EI Experience)  22:55
Well, think about it, Kayla, if you have too much empathy, let’s take that, for instance, you can get in meshed and people stuff, you, you don’t necessarily set good boundaries, you can wear other people’s emotional burdens on your shoulders, right? That’s too much empathy. So in your case, if that’s the case, for you, I might say, let’s set up some boundaries, you can have compassion and boundaries at the same time. Whereas with people who don’t have enough empathy, and they don’t know, they don’t care what people think and can’t put themselves in other people’s shoes, and have no compassion, I might give them a different emotional intelligence strategy. So the first step is, as I said, to connect with yourself. The second step is to consult with others, which is what Daisy was talking about. It’s reaching out to, you know, five people, and in fact, I give questions in the book of what you can ask others, you know, Hey, I see myself, you know, do you see me as self directed? Do you think I can control my impulses? Do you feel? Do you know, do you think I can express my emotions constructively? You know, these are questions you ask others. And then once you have your self-perception, as well as what other people see you, then you can step three is to clarify your focus. What are those things that people have said, maybe you have blank spots. I will be honest, the hardest person I ever had to ask was my boyfriend at the time. I had to ask no. How do you see me? Do you see me the way I see myself? Well, guess what? There were blind spots. There were things about me that my allied straights that we both saw as my strengths. There were things about me that we both saw as reinforced opportunities, but I had blind spots. And guess what I have yet to meet a leader who doesn’t have blind spots. And it’s important to make sure because our self-perception is inevitably flawed, right? It’s our life experience that tells us the stories. So once you get clarity on what the themes people are noticing about you, then you can get clear on Okay, after everything I thought about me and what everything everyone else said what are the one or two things I need to work on to be my best self and be the best leader I can be?

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  24:59
Hmm Daisy, that aligns so beautifully with so much of what you were saying earlier, do you have anything else that strikes you about what Carolyn just chatted through?

Daisy Wright (Career Coach)  25:07
Oh, oh boy, she said, so many she had she nailed it, she had so many good nuggets about that. And I’ll just add, and you can just fit them in where they fall. First of all, in terms of hiring and recruiting, as a first time manager, the first thing you need to do is to stay away from what I call the sameness mentality. That means do not go out looking for somebody who looks and sounds like you, you need diversity of thought, you need somebody you need to listen to other people with different perspectives. Because together, when you put all of that together, you’re bound to succeed. When you surround yourself with everybody who looks and sounds like you, then you’re not, you’re not ready to grow. So that’s one thing. The other thing is one of the tools I use with my clients, is a tool called a 360. Brand personal survey. And similar to some of the tools that are currently mentioned, what that does, it’s a 360 survey, but it’s not the performance, it’s not the 360 performance survey that one would do at work. This one is more about your personal brand. It’s it, isn’t it? Who are you? Who am I? It helps people to determine who am I? What, do people think about me? Because sometimes we have blank spots, we think we are the greatest thing since sliced bread, when probably that’s not true. So you get a full look at you get a 360 view of what people think who you are and what people think about you. And because it’s a survey and use, I send it, I have clients send it out to a number of people, then when they get the feedback, they’re able to dissect the information and come up with a good enough idea of, you know, who they are, what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are, where they should be, where they should be looking to, to upscale, or upgrade themselves, whether they’re too overbearing, or you know whether they are one of these domineering people who who cannot, who like we enjoy stepping on people’s toes. So that’s one of the tools that I actually use,

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  27:49
I love the diversity of perspective, sort of call to action to make sure that you’re not biasing people who look and sound and, you know, have a similar background to you, I’ve definitely found myself in different managing moments, sort of being attracted to those candidates or sort of leaning in and having to really check that bias. How do you approach though these moments of, you know, wanting to work with colleagues or wanting to hire someone who’s going to understand you and maybe your strengths, and be able to play into those? Because you feel they’re going to be complimentary to your work? How do you understand the balance between what are complimentary sort of EQ elements or complimentary cut sort of personality traits, I guess, that are going to make you collaborate really well, but bringing in enough diversity, that you’re not just the same mirrored human approaching things the exact same way, I’ve always struggled with this, of trying to build really high functioning teams and, and supporting other founders in a collaborative model where you have some type of foundation and alignment, but enough diversity that you have a whole mix of strengths and weaknesses and, you know, a really colorful team in that way. What do you have any advice on on supporting founders through some of those kind of challenging calls to make sure that they’re actually collaborating really well with the people they’re bringing on their teams.

Daisy Wright (Career Coach)  29:10
First of all, you have to get rid of what we call the halo effect. And that means somebody you might be interviewing someone, and for the first few seconds, there’s something about that person that you really, really like. And everything that person says after that is going to you’re going to take that as as the truth. Oh, my goodness, she’s so great. We have got to get her on our team. The reverse can be true, where the first few seconds of in talking with in interviewing somebody, there’s just something about that person that you just might not like, again, you have to get rid of that and that’s what we call the halo effect, get rid of off of those kinds of things. But I Simply questions, you know who you’re looking for, you know where your weaknesses are. And you can literally say to that person, listen, I’m great at this. But when it comes to whatever that scenario is, you’re not I’m not too good. How would you handle this or tell me a time when you had to you are in a space like that, tell me what you did. And then listen for their story, they have to give you the one the situation, what was happening at the time, then they have to give you tell you the actions that they took. And then they have to show you the results, or what I call the the impact, what impact did they make? So based on their answer, you can say, Yes, this explains this is somebody who I know could solve this particular problem for me, if I’m not too great with managing staff, and this person is a people person. And you have you discover through asking them those questions, you discover that, yes, I need somebody to compliment me here. This would be somebody I would I would consider.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  31:19
Carolyn, what about you? Do you think there’s ever such a thing as too much variety of EQ on a team? Do you ever hit a limit? You need some sort of common ground?

Carolyn Stern (EI Experience)  31:28
Well, I think I think it’s knowing again, this goes back to self awareness. I think it’s knowing not what you’re so I know that I need I don’t want other needy people like me on my team, because that doesn’t serve me. Well, that triggers me. If I gave someone what do you think? And they kept said, Oh, I don’t know, what do you think that would move us around and around and we wouldn’t get anywhere. So I knew that’s what triggers me. So I am specifically looking for resourceful people that if they don’t know the answers, they won’t just give up like I tend to write, I’m looking for people who will be resourceful. Who if they don’t know the answers will find the answers because I know that’s a trigger for me. But I also know when you mentioned about personality tests versus emotional intelligence, personality tests, like Myers Briggs, or disc, these are based on your preferences, not necessarily if you’re good at it. So I might prefer to use my right hand than my left hand. That’s my preference. But that doesn’t mean my writing and my right hand is good. It’s just my preference. Whereas EQ what I love about the EQ assessment, is it tells you your what you think your level of emotional intelligence is for those 15 different skills. And so again, when I think back to who I hired on my team, you know, as a university professor, people always think, oh, education must be really important to you. And, you know, lead to well, actually, it’s not important. When I look at my business development manager, the reason I hired her is she actually was a student of mine, and half before she became before she graduated, after she was done my class, so there was no conflict of interest. I said, What are you doing for the rest of your life, because I could see that she even though she didn’t go to school, for sales and business development, I could see that she was such a great listener. And when I saw that, in her, I thought, oh, my gosh, this would be an amazing person to do our sales and business development, because they’re constantly listening to people’s needs and trying to figure out a program. And it was actually that skill, not the fact that she has an education in in listening, because she doesn’t write I mean, we don’t teach these kids how to listen, we just teach them how to advocate, let’s be honest. But so it was that I could see that, okay, what are the skills that this job needs to be really good at? I thought, you know, if you want business development, you want someone who’s not always talking, that is listening to other people’s needs, that is creative, that’s coming up with a good program or strategy. And in her case, she happened to be a soccer of our soccer captain of the team at the University. And she and I realized, well, here’s someone who’s all about results, she cares about, you know, scoring the numbers. So I could see those skills transferable in that role. When I look at my program manager who builds all our training programs and our PowerPoints in our workbooks. My gosh, she was someone that was attention to detail. She was someone that absolutely would dot all your I’s and cross all her T’s. Well, I need someone like that to be in that role, because they’re going to be looking at, you know, hundreds of workbooks and making sure everything makes grammatical sense. And so again, she didn’t go to school to be a program developer, but I could see those skills in her and that’s what I looked for. So I think it’s a con A nation figuring out what they prefer, what their preferences are, what their natural abilities are, what their natural talents are. Right? Let’s get away from the school that, you know, let’s think about what Gallup did. Right? Gallup did a study and you know, if a kid comes home with a report card that has, you know, an A in English and a in science, in social studies, but a D in math, what are the parents focus on? Well, they focus on the D, when they shouldn’t be focusing on the D, they should be focusing on their strengths, what they are good at, when I see someone that comes into an interview, I try to find out what they are good at. And if they are good at something that I am not, that’s probably a good fit, because that’s going to expand and scale my business beyond what I am capable of.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  35:44
Amazing, and this approach that, you know, it’s not a one size fits all, there’s a perfect archetype of, you know, individual personalities that make up a perfect team, right. And there’s so much fluidity here. But that really concrete self awareness and having the courage to have that foundation, in every conversation, like I love that we just come back to this, you know, independent awareness that we can do that work, we can, you know, invest that time and energy, and then all those follow up decisions feel much more thoughtful. And I love that, that approach Carolyn, and this sort of framework that you’re presenting that feels really practical, which I love. This five guests, let’s talk about bringing all these frameworks, all these various tools, and sort of basic understanding that that we’ve, you know, hopefully achieved by going through some of these resources in how we navigate through difficult moments. This, you know, especially over the last couple of years, I feel like leaders have been riddled with difficult moments. And this looks different in every organization, right? I would love to get some feedback days, maybe starting with you, and maybe a bit of a case study of an example where you had to navigate through a difficult situation, you know, a client situation, maybe something was unclear what happened, how you felt during it give us a bit of a case study of how to navigate through a difficult moment like that.

Daisy Wright (Career Coach)  36:58
So I had engaged with this particular organization, it’s an organization that I’ve done some work with before. And they contacted me, and asked me to develop to workshops. And we talked, they introduced, they told me what the budget was, and all of that. And I said, Fine. And I went ahead and I started developing one workshop, and then I delivered that and so I sent them the invoice there asked me after that, how much to deliver the workshop, not how much to develop, how much to deliver. So I sent them the additional fee. Well, when I sent them my invoice, they were like, Are you kidding? We didn’t discuss that. And you know, it’s tough. So I was in shock. Because they were the ones who told me about the budget, and I built the workshop based on on the budget. And then they started talking about, you know, me not being transparent and stuff. And I’m telling you, I was livid. Because I was saying to myself, this I’ve been in this space, for so long, I’m well known. And here, you know, is somebody questioning, questioning my integrity. And we were there going back and front. And I said to them, you know, I do have my notes. And if it comes down to it, then you know, that’s what you know, we’ll have to go with, I think, because I said I had my notes, then the mood kind of changed. And and then I said to them, one, it’s either I’m going to be paid the full amount or none at all. I said my character, my integrity means more to me than this, this money. And then I decided I said, You know what, I’m not going to accept the payment. But because they had already discussed this matter with their team, and I’m there saying to myself, oh my god, people are now going to, you know, somehow hear about this, and then get the wrong impression. So I said, No, I would like to you have discussed with your team. So I’m going to write to your head, which is a senior person to let them know my side of the story. And then they had to get their their head person into it. And we had a meeting he he called me we set up a Zoom meeting we had he was apologizing so many times during the conversation. And eventually because of what happened eventually I accepted the payment. But I kind of blame. I put some blame on myself as well. And that’s what I want women leaders or entrepreneurs to know. It doesn’t matter how cordial the relationship might be. You still have to maintain that that business mentality, meaning you have to make sure all the i’s are dotted and all the T’s are crossed. Because I was basing all of this on the prior relationship that we had. Not thinking that I had to get this thing written in stone. And, and because of that, I ended up in that particular situation, so it doesn’t matter. And even with my clients, we have a client agreement that they have to sign before I start working with them. So nobody can say later on. Well, you didn’t say that. But I think I had my guard down in this particular situation. And it just flew over my head. But it was a learning experience for me to say, ah, get back to reality get back to the business of conducting business properly, rather than assuming that making assumptions that what was said was probably not too clear. So that’s the big lesson I gained from that. And that’s what I would encourage anyone, whether you’re getting into your own business, or whether you’re signing a job offer activity, I’ve had two clients, I’m working right now, with two clients who signed, who went to new job, new roles, then they got there, the job, the job description was different. The title was different. And now they’re trying to sort that out. So a lot of that we have to be careful in terms of making sure that all you have read the read everything, and everything is higher before you start doing the work or before you accept that, that job posting that job. 

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  41:55
Yeah, it’s like a boundary. It keeps things in. But it also makes sure that other things don’t come out that having clarity of what’s even within that boundary is helpful. Interesting. Carolyn, I would love to talk to you as well, about you know, emotionally struggle leader, you mentioned, the title of your book is very intentionally worded. What does it mean navigating through really challenging conversations or parts of of your business? Where emotional intelligence and leadership sort of intersect? Do you see leadership kind of being a part of the EQ space already? What does that look like?

Carolyn Stern (EI Experience)  42:27
Well, I think it needs to be a part of the leadership space, even if it’s not, and I think you said it earlier. Some leaders are realizing the necessity of it. We all have complicated lives. And when we get to the office, we don’t put our remote you know, we there is no on and off switch for emotions, right? We have to, we feel things and being aware of our emotions and how they come to help us and hurt us solve problems is really key. And I think you said it really well. Kayla, it’s this balance. It’s finding out when do you share? When do you share too much? And when do you share too little? It’s really about finding that sweet spot. Everyone wants the quick fix? How do you become emotionally intelligent? It depends on your own emotional makeup, what you’re strong and strong on what you’re weak on, what what needs some work for you. But also it depends on the situation and the person involved with. So for instance, in Daisy’s case, I think she gave a great example, she kind of let her guard down because she knew these people on a personal note. So she wasn’t in that mindset of this is business. I don’t have to have everything in writing. And that’s where miscommunications mishap, and misunderstandings come from is when we assume and this goes back to my inner iceberg conversations, right? What killed the Titanic was not the little piece of ice. above the water. It was that big, deep, deep iceberg below the water, right that was 400 feet deep and 5200 feet wide. I think what we need to realize is that we are a lot like that we’re you’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. All you see are my communications and my actions, but you don’t see my personal history, my attitudes, my assumptions. So maybe Daisy was making some assumptions. Maybe she was making some, you know, she had some preconceived notions, maybe she had some beliefs about this client. And those were clouding her judgment on how to set up this business deal. What what I would say, you know, for listeners, like Daisy that are in that situation, one of the things I would say is, what are you feeling? And Daisy said it herself. She learned a lot from this situation. What are you feeling? And my second favorite question is, what is that feeling telling you about you? And the situation so she had said that she at one point, she said, she was shocked and then the next point, she said she was livid. Well, what are those two feelings telling her about her? Each one of those feelings are incredibly powerful. Let’s just take some frustration and anger. We feel frustration and angry anger many times throughout the week, right? Well, what’s the causal difference between the two? Whenever I ask that question it like the audience goes blank, it’s like a deer in headlights. But we feel these things all the time. Well, the causal difference between frustration and anger is frustration stems from unmet expectations. Anger stems from injustice or unfairness. So how many of us, me included, have been frustrated, but shown it as anger? Well, the problem is, if I show it as anger, you in the workplace are just going to think I’m angry, rather than having those inner iceberg conversations saying, Hey, Daisy, I’m noticing you’re stomping down the hallway, what the story I’m telling myself is, you’re angry, is that correct? And she might go, No, I’m not angry at all, I’ve actually really frustrated. And then if she knows she’s frustrated, well, maybe there’s some unmet expectations. And maybe, then she and I can have a conversation about those unmet expectations. I think that’s the key is we need to learn how are we feeling? And what is that feeling telling us about us and the situation, because that can teach us a lot of information if we stop being so afraid of our feelings.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  46:08
And it’s such a spectrum of emotion, but that we have been experiencing in especially the last couple of years, and, and with new leaders as well, I think in particular, if you’re taking on a new venture, you’re both proud. And you’re also terrified, and you’re feeling confident and also potentially vulnerable, these like juxtapositions of all these different feelings that has a weight to it. And that impacts how we show up in different situations. And, you know, I love the Inside Out Pixar movie kind of idea that, like, we’ve got all these little characters in our brain, and they’re talking to each other. And there’s sort of these intersections of all these different very complicated emotions, but they manifest or maybe present differently based on you know, who you are. How do you actually get in touch with those emotions and almost decouple them and saying, I’m both frustrated, and I’m feeling this way or, you know, being truly aware of what that emotional lineup looks like? How do you start that? Carolyn, do you have some suggestions on how we even enter into that conversation?

Carolyn Stern (EI Experience)  47:09
I’m gonna give your listeners a great exercise, because we know you said they love takeaways, so I want them to take a piece of paper. On that piece of paper, write down four columns. The first is your motion. That’s the column for your motion. The second column is your trigger. The third column is your response. And the fourth column is your impact. Now, let’s use an example. Let’s say your boss just gives you an unrealistic expectation and deadline, and you’re angry. Okay, so the trigger or sorry, the emotion is you’re angry that the trigger was your boss just gave you an unrealistic deadline. Now I have two choices. So I always tell my clients before you do anything, press pause. And I want you to write down a high EQ response and a low EQ response. So the low EQ response might be Kayla, Daisy, screw you boss, I’m not doing it, you know. And the impact of that response could be insubordination, or I could lose my job. A high EQ response might be you know, what I need to negotiate, I need to ask for more time on this project. Or I need to say, You know what, Project X that you gave me last week, that’s due tomorrow, can that be put off till till Friday. So the the response would be, negotiate, the impact might be okay, your boss might not be thrilled about you negotiating. But at least they’ll respect you for setting a boundary. And once you write both of those responses down, and the impact, that gives you the space, and the clarity to make a conscious choice. And so if we can stop being so afraid of our feelings, and look for the meaning that our feelings provide,

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  48:59
I love it. And what I love about this prompt is it’s so simple, it’s this, this four-section framework is so simple, it forces that breath, that the number of decisions I would have made differently, if I had just taken one breath, instead of just running, you know, in a different direction. And I love that the response is positioned as a choice and not just a reaction. That’s I think that’s such a complicated part of emotions, right? You feel like this visceral pattern or you know, this response, so you have no control over this gives you that control and that sense of, okay, I have multiple options here and then understanding the impact of the consequence after and I love that that beat that gives you that sort of pick your own adventure option. So DAISY, I would love to get you know, a little bit more detail as well from your side on a coaching perspective, in bringing emotions to work, how you encourage people to do that, bringing their whole selves, recognizing them, but managing the professionalism of that space. I’ve really struggled with this over the years that you know, when do you share or when it when do you know that a boundary has been maybe exceeded and you have overshare? or compromised a professional relationship? Is that a conversation that’s changing a lot in in how much is being too much in the vulnerability space or showing your emotions at work? How do we know when we’ve hit too far on that sort of boundary line?

Daisy Wright (Career Coach)  50:22
You know what I think at the heart of all this is trust. Because if you’re able to trust people, then you’re able to share and you feel more inclined to share more about you. And the workspace, unfortunately, does not provide for that there are so many things. So many things happening because we have certain expectations of other people. Right? Somebody might say, well, you know what, I don’t like that. I don’t like that your hairstyle isn’t professional. And I might be saying, yeah, it looks professional. To me, that’s all a part of who I am. So you can’t keep saying to people bring your whole self to work. And then when they come to work, they have to code switch. You know, you have to be open. And it has and, you know, the good thing is that these days, these conversations are taking place. And people are becoming more not only more empathetic, but they’re actually being more compassionate. It stems right from being from trusting the people who you’re working with, from trusting the person who you report to, you have to feel that

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  51:49
I love that it can’t just be spoken, it really has to be felt. And that’s an emotional feeling, right? Like if you feel that sense of authenticity, and that trust in that, that that that space is being created safely. So in difficult conversations naturally in the workplace conflict happens. And as a part of the whole leadership experience, are there any tools or perspectives in how we navigate through these moments? How can leaders prepare for these tough conversations being both empathetic, potentially compassionate, understanding where people are coming from, but also building really high functioning productive challenge teams that are doing excellent work? Do you have any tools around how to navigate both that professional and sort of empathy empathetic side of the difficult conversation? Carolyn, let’s start with you.

Carolyn Stern (EI Experience) 52:36
Yeah, so actually, as Daisy was sharing, I was thinking of a quote that really resonates with me a lot. And I share this with a lot of our clients, which is, you are not the standard to which everything is judged.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  52:49
Oh, I just got body chills Carolyn. Oh, my gosh, yeah. Oh, that’s a good one!

Carolyn Stern (EI Experience) 52:55
Daisy is thinking her hair looks fabulous. But someone at work, thinks it doesn’t for whatever bias they may have. That doesn’t mean Daisy is right, and they are wrong, or vice versa. It just means there’s a difference of opinions. I think the key really is, is to you know, you mentioned, you know, how do we prepare for these tough, difficult conversations? Well, here’s the first thing, it would never have to be a difficult conversation if you gave regular feedback. So typical conversation happens when you’ve kept your mouth shut. For too long. As leaders, we need to remember where teachers you need to tell your people what a good job looks like, what does success look like? You need to explain to them how they get an A in your class, how they get a B in your class, how they get a C in your class or in their job, right? We need to teach them that. And the one thing that I’d say the biggest misconception that I have to retrain leaders, and this is for all types of leaders, regardless of gender, is I know the answers to my students test. But if I give it to them, they ain’t learning.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  54:09
I agree. No, that’s a great, a great reminder. And you know, it’s almost a form of procrastination in some ways, which makes things so much worse, when you continue to procrastinate a task, it makes it bigger than if you had just done it when, you know, sort of nipping something in the bud or done it when you know, you identified that that point in time where it first started happening. And that’s a simple thing that all of us can implement in their day to day, right, issuing that regular feedback, having the courage to show up. And with that really clear intention that it’s to make, you know, that support available to make us better to you know, sort of aligned to even just see what that impact is going to be written on paper versus now okay, you know, maybe one day my boss is gonna run on that is right and taking everything out in today’s conversation or to get back to your real thing. We really conversation happened within businesses within we’re having, you know, in Charlotte, being that late out there encouraged definitely stepping on these frameworks. I love really productive conversations around emotions. What do you think is next? And where do we really need to lean into? Daisy, let’s start with you.

Daisy Wright (Career Coach)  55:10
So let me just touch on the feedback that Carolyn was talking about, just know, that is so important, we got accustomed to waiting on till the end of the year or the end of four, you know, to get that performance review. And that’s when I can an employee’s going to hear well, in March, you did this. And because of that, we can’t give you an exceed expectation. So the good thing is that leaders are now realizing that constant feedback is important. It’s important to build relationships. But it’s also important to build the, the confidence off the employee. So that’s very, very important. In terms of where we go next. I think we, we can also, we can now reflect on what the pandemic has, has brought. And I’m looking more more on the positive parts of it. And it has allowed us to take a break, it has allowed employees to realize that one, they do have value. And two, they don’t have to stick to that rigid boundary that the employer has set for them. You know, they have they have no realize that there’s more to life than just work, work, work. And so you’re you you realize now that the hybrid work situation is going to be the norm. And people are people are foregoing the high salary for their mental health. They’re saying, yes, you pay me. But my mental health is important. My family, my family life is important. I shouldn’t be spending, you know, X number of hours commuting when I have a two year old or a six year old, who needs me, there. And so people are making choices. I mean, I made that choice. When my kids were younger than me, they’re adults now. But one of the reasons I left corporate, in addition to being frustrated, was the fact that I got home one night and my five year old said, Mom, did you come home last night. And that thing hit me here and I’m saying here I am slaving away at work not getting the promotion that I have worked for. And I was studying at the time. So I was doing part time study. So when I left when I tuck them in, in bed on Sundays, they didn’t see me again until Tuesday evening, and to hear a five year old saying that, to me really put things in perspective. And that was long before the pandemic. Yeah, where, you know, people have realized, yes, life is more than just just, you know, just work work work. So that’s, that’s what’s happening. And that’s a good part of it. We are now people are more relaxed, they can determine how they work when they work. And even though some organizations want to stick to what they know they all system, they’re going to lose in the long run, we have to there has to be a happy medium, where we are satisfying we as leaders are satisfying our needs. But then we are also paying attention to what employees what employers what the employer needs, and how can we support them so that we benefit as a team.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  59:02
Carolyn, what do you think is up next in this space?

Carolyn Stern (EI Experience)  59:04
Really simple. My call to action for everyone is emotion shouldn’t be feared but faced head on. And when you are a leader, asking others how they’re feeling and talking about the emotional issues your your your people are experiencing, especially those that are often ignored matters. So I think we need to be brave. And we can be brave and afraid at the same time. And afraid but I think we need to be more brave and have these conversations because as Daisy said, it’s not just about the paycheck. It’s about making sure they feel valued, appreciated and fulfilled in their role. And the only way they’re going to do that is if you get to know them at the heart and not be so afraid of emotions. As I said you can be emotional and strong. They’re not mutually exclusive.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  59:53
I love that. And so wrapping up this episode, I would love to give you both a moment to share any final resources piece of advice, or just maybe some final words, to our audience of a lot of early stage founders, maybe navigating all of these things and all of these various emotions. And in addition to, you know, the impacts of the pandemic in the last couple of years, any final takeaways, you’d want to leave the team with? Carolyn, we’ll start with you.

Carolyn Stern (EI Experience)  1:00:19
So I mean, quite frankly, Being emotional is someone who feels things deeply right and has strong reactions, but you can learn to be in the driver’s seat of your emotions. And in the book, the reason I wrote the book, is because you got to gain the Met the emotional skills and mental strategies to have the capacity to lead with strength and, but also with kindness with a strong heart, a strong mind and a kind heart. And the book is equipped for I have 60 different strategies, right on tested skills and strategies that you can use depending on your own emotional makeup. But I want to be real clear, being stronger than your emotions is not strong arming your feelings or having a steely resolve not to feel. It simply means that we need to acknowledge we need to understand and accept that we all feel things good or bad, right or wrong, we all feel thing. And you can identify that your emotions and feelings contain wisdom. And you can use that information to guide your behaviors when confronted with emotional triggers that can lead to hasty reactions and undisciplined behaviors or disrespectful communications. So quite, you know, as Dan Siegel says, the psychologist says, You got to name it to tame it. So we’ve got to start recognizing that we all have feelings, we’re human, it’s, it’s our universal language that we can all relate to. So if we talk about Dei, that is the universal language we can all relate to. So if we can start not being so afraid of our feelings, and face them head on, I think we’ll be in a in a way better place and the future of work will be better for it.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:01:52
Diasy, any final resources, recommendations or piece of advice you want to leave our listeners with?

Daisy Wright (Career Coach)  1:01:58
Okay, so a couple of the resources, I would add, I mentioned trust, by David Johnston, our former Governor General, very good. He has 20 ways to build a better country. And that takes into account not only the country, but even the workplace and the and the relationships that we develop in the workplace. The other resource is a book called How to be an inclusive leader. And it’s by Jennifer Brown. And he talks about your role in creating cultures of belonging where everyone can thrive. That’s important as leaders, but also as entrepreneurs, we need that. And the final piece is a good final book or resource is won by Carol s Dweck mindset. We need Yes, yes, it’s changing your mindset. Are you in a growth mindset? Or are you stagnating? What’s the what’s happening in your in here? Is it that Oh, my goodness, I’m in this spot. And that’s how I was made, or No, I am in this pot. I don’t like where I am. And I’m going to find ways to get out of, of where I am. So those are my three resources, I would add right away.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:03:15
I love it. A lot of good. I feel like we could have a book club on the startup women podcast, books that I have not been able to get through all of them yet. But that is so helpful, super practical. And I want to thank both Carolyn and Daisy, thank you so much for sharing all of these different case studies, examples, frameworks, resources and your lived experience navigating all of this. So thanks so much for joining us on the startup women podcast. Thanks for having

Daisy Wright (Career Coach)  1:03:39
Thank you so much for having me.

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