December 1, 2022

#365 Tamar Balkin – Transcript

Share :

LinkedIn
Twitter

Jess Brady
This week I speak to Tamar Balkin, she has been an organizational psychologist for over 20 years. She thinks that work and life should be enjoyable, challenging, and energizing to speak on all things this week, literally, how can we cultivate great leadership skills? What does it actually practically take in this day and age? And how can we become better leaders in the year ahead? Enjoy. Hi, Tamar.

Tamar Balkin
Hi, Jess.

Jess Brady
This is going to be a beautifully timed chat. I know that you and I could talk about this topic all day long. But I feel that this is the right time of year to be thinking about the year ahead and reflecting and learning and being honest and vulnerable about what we did, perhaps that could use some improvement in the upcoming year. So thank you so much for being part of today’s podcast. Now, I think before I get into all of the things that I basically want to interrogate you on. First, for the people that do not have the delight and privilege of knowing you for a little while, I’d love for you tomorrow to share your story.

Tamar Balkin
No worries. So quite interestingly, when I was sitting in year 12, deciding what I wanted to do as a career. All I knew was I wanted a profession, I wanted to dive sort of thought, well, if I could be a photographer, I didn’t matter what it was, but I didn’t want a general degree. And I guess my marks and there was either optometry or psychology. And I thought I can’t test eyes all day. So let’s do psychology, and set in my first lecture and went, Ah, this is fascinating. I absolutely love this, I’m hooked. And I loved every part of my degree. And then I worked for a couple of years in child protection, realized that was far too emotionally draining, and called a colleague, who was a couple of years older than me. And I said to her, What’s Organizational Psychology like, and she said are people don’t have to be in the gutter to make a difference to their lives. If you can make the world of work, meaningful, engaging, that people bounce out of bed excited about their day at work, then it is the most rewarding thing. And that’s what organizational psychologists do. It’s anything to do with human behavior in the workplace. So off I went, embraced it learned about the corporate world, my first role, when I graduated from the master’s program was in consulting in a place called Mercer, a lot of remuneration. And then, by pure serendipity, I landed in a leadership coaching role. And I realized very quickly that while consulting, you have impact across the entire large chunks of a business. The beauty of leadership, coaching is that you work with an individual on what is important to them. And you know, some of the listeners may have a similar experience in the type of work that you all do. And it’s extremely, there is obviously the flow on effect. Anyone who’s worked it for a boss or is a boss knows that how they behave flows on to many around them, colleagues, staff, stakeholders, etc. And so for me, to have the real honor of sitting down with leaders and help them grow themselves as individuals I know will flows on to all those around them. And I love catching up six months later, after coaching has ended, just out of complete curiosity to just find out where they’re at what’s going on what’s going on in their industry. So I feel very spoiled with my career. And and I guess the knowledge of what, what goes on in human behavior in the workplace. And hopefully some of the stuff we’ve discussed today has enabled me to really carve out a fabulous, fabulous work life and I think everybody else should have one too. So my rose colored glasses, the link back to the optometry, but I think they they put me in good stead.

Jess Brady
No, I’m with you. I’m with you. 100%. So talking about this idea of focusing on helping leaders, what do you mainly focus on with these leaders?

Tamar Balkin
So if I think at the general topics, firstly, I’ve worked with leaders in all industries across all different levels. And the main topics, the main sort of areas of development for people, self awareness, emotional intelligence, and a really good understanding of well being because they’re the things that any leader in any organization needs to create what we’re now calling a psychologically healthy and safe workplace, basically a place where employees can thrive. My referrals are usually around about three or four areas can be the newly promoted leader. If I think of a recent fellow Really, he really wants to maintain his personality and his his general demeanor and his style with interacting with people while he got promoted. So he was a, what I’d call a politely assertive filler, everyone around him was pretty aggressive. And he wanted to ensure that he maintained that kindness really and still achieve the same results. And it was extremely delightful to watch that and to follow up later, I work with existing leaders who often will come to me and go tomorrow, there’s something that’s not quite right, there’s some error I need to develop on. Things aren’t humming the way they should, in my team in my industry, for myself, I often can’t point their finger on a specific thing. I will occasionally get referrals from high performers who have acquired some bad habits. And it’s really derailing for themselves and others. And they’re really challenging situations, both for the individual and then for those around them. And also where there’s change. Because what happens is that people, you know, the leadership team has to implement the change, I mean, your sectors had lots of change going on at the backstops with whoever’s running the show to make sure that they’re on top of what needs to be done, they’re positive about it, they take everybody else’s circumstances into account, etc, etc, that comply, all of that, that, in order to do that, that’s a huge task. And so, it’s been particularly particularly rewarding to work either with the leader of that change, or even occasionally, the entire executive team to provide them with the support they need. And then amongst all those conversations comes, the greater need for self awareness, the need for emotional intelligence, and then for well being. And then, of course, I sort of see myself as librarian, you know, I have at my fingertips all the information about human behavior at work, and you know, whether it’s negotiation, performance management decision making, the whole gamut of anything in that realm, that then that comes up, and clients will bring examples of what’s going on in there, you know, we meet monthly, and they’ll bring an example of what’s happened in the previous month. And, and often in the, in the process of understanding that particular example and working through it, then we’re simultaneously working on their goals and skills. And often, you know, there’s an emerging goal that comes out, someone comes to me with a view, they’re going to work on x. And as we have more conversations, it’s actually y that they need to be focusing on. So yeah, that’s a broad area. I know, I need to be succinct with that.

Jess Brady
No, no, but it’s interesting. And it does require so much self awareness to be like, Okay, I’m really good at this. But actually, he’s a blind spot, and to be brave enough to reach out to someone to say, to be the best leader that I can be, I need to be getting the professional help and coaching to drive me through that. So I think that that requires an enormous amount of self awareness, honesty, vulnerability, and proactivity, really, to go and hunt down someone like yourself, and have that conversation. And as you say, people might start coming to you for one particular reason. And then through your work, find out, Oh, maybe there’s something else that I need to do instead.

Tamar Balkin
And up to that point, sometimes the referrals come from someone or senior within an organization or a colleague or an investor, or you know, whatever it may be. So that’s also often the route. People come to me. You know,

Jess Brady
I did a leadership course years ago. And one of the things that came out, which I thought was quite fascinating was, I think we were classed as emerging leaders, let’s just call it that inside of being corporate. So people who had been identified that could go and do the leadership thing in future years. And the common feedback to me that came through from our cohort was, we don’t really feel like leaders, you know, we’re in these big organizations, we don’t have any autonomy. We don’t have teams. We don’t feel like leaders and how the lady responded was fascinating. And she said, you just need to act legally. She said, when those moments arrive, you need to act legally. And for me, something inside my brain was like, ah, that makes sense. And I can have permission. You know, when you’re in a big machine, sometimes you don’t always feel like you can be a leader or maybe you’re crossing toe, stepping on toes and things, but it was quite an interesting idea. I mean, do you think that leadership and strong leadership needs to be cultivated inside businesses of every size?

Tamar Balkin
Look, I think, you know, there are some people who talk about you should leave from wherever you are. And in that sense, that’s, you know, just setting a good example Oh, you know, model kindness and politeness. And, and everybody has that responsibility. You know, it’s, it’s really interesting because I’ve got a quote from Stephen Covey, he said, you know, we judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior. And I think that, therefore, when we want to influence others, and every role, you have a reason to be influencing whether you’re influencing a customer stakeholder or a colleague, someone more senior, etc. How you actually do that, and how you go about that is does demonstrate leadership and those those key skills that I talked to my clients about self awareness, emotional intelligence, well being, human feedback, negotiation, managing conflict, collaboration, creativity, the list could go on, that are essential for every individual in an organization, and the flatter the structures are getting, and the more cross business work that is done, or even in a small business or type of partnerships and collaborations you may do, then these skills are very apparent. And and I think the other area, you know, which I’ll perhaps we’ll come back to a bit later, which is around empathy, and listening, and suspending judgment, that they are all critical. And so I guess for the emerging leader, and the leader is somewhere new is that you should always be developing those skills and looking for examples for where you can lead. And I think the other thing about leadership is ethics. So yes, when you don’t have a lot of choice, and your more phone a better word, Jr. within our organization, it seems that everything’s prescribed, that there are always gray areas. And so your values and your ethical principles be they come from an external code of conduct, even in those circumstances, there’s greatness, you know, and that sets the tone for the type of person you want to be, and how you behave towards others, and how you lead by example. And I think it’s really critical. So it’s, you sort of the Emerging Leader is thinking about how are they developing all these skills, and how can they use their presence and their behavior for good,

Jess Brady
it’s so fascinating, because I feel, and I couldn’t be wrong, send hate mail to the usual place. But I feel like when you’re in a small, busy business, whether, as you say, has been a lot of legislative and regulatory change, which keeps you busy, on top of managing client strategies, and on top of managing the business at large, you can often feel that there isn’t a need for intentional leadership. But what you’re saying is exactly the opposite to that which really deep down, you know, which is actually spending that time thinking about what an example you are setting and how you can improve to the benefit of everyone around you. I guess what I’d be keen to do today is to learn a bit more about practically what we should be looking for, and how do we do that? So to sort of kick that off, I’m keen to learn, how can leaders start to create teams that are full of happy, fulfilled team members?

Tamar Balkin
It’s like the magic question, isn’t it? Happy and they’re all engaged. And, and I think the other thing with a small business is that you want to know, you know, your reputation aces your results, but it’s also the customer service factor. It’s also how were you having all those client interactions and, and the research indicates, but also we know intuitively that if your staff are content, then they’re going to be really polite to customers. So you’re going to think about, you know, the customer, the clients money is my money, you know, or are these persons like my, my mom, you know, and I’m going to have that same level of care and respect. And, you know, that’s what helps a lot of small businesses in in any arena stand out. You know, when we at the fundamental level, you want to be certain that there’s a job fit, you want to be sure that everybody knows what they’re meant to be doing in their roles, and then it’s the right thing for them and not just in terms of can they do the job you know, we often look at this skill match can they do the job but, but do they want Want to be doing the job? Does it fit what they need out of work? Does it fit what they they’re interested in. And so obviously, you know, in challenging economic times, people can’t necessarily choose where they’re at in their careers or where they are, but to sit down every now and again, with your staff, and really get a sense of what they’re loving about their work, what they not see if there’s ways you know, there are some people who find, amongst us even a small team, there are aspects of jobs that some of us hate, and that some absolutely love. And if they can even be a small amount of what we do called job crafting, or shuffling chess to improve that fit, it’s really important, the emotional side of what we do. So you know, allowing people and encouraging them that after a fantastic client experience should just stop and go, Wow, that was fabulous. You know, if we went on a podcast, they would say, my arms are up in the air. We never stopped even for a minute and just allow that positive emotion to bubble up to have the smile on our face. Not not about, you know, some external reward, but that intrinsic feeling of I did that I Oh, crap that hard. Now I got that sale, and I was able to deliver, set that person up for exactly what they wanted. Or I was able to negotiate something with an external stakeholder, whatever it may be, it doesn’t have to be a huge thing. But to just savor that moment, and if appropriate, share it with someone, you know, even if it’s a friend who has no idea what you’re really talking about, to just share it. It’s not bragging, it just enables you, you can even say I had a fabulous day today, you know, I just got it, you know. The other thing is, is that emotional support after challenging experiences, dealing with a regulator, dealing with an angry customer, you know, that’s part of every job and a boss who has a non judgmental listening ear, for their staff, and makes it normal for people to come and say, oh, good heavens about that was really draining. And it is so frustrating. And I know we have to do it, but I just need to walk around the block before I do something else to insert a pause and and for the boss to be role modeling, that the thing. The other thing that’s good is this idea of purpose. Now, purpose is a very used overused word. And it really is for an individual to have an understanding of what their contribution is to others. So if you weren’t there, what would fall apart? What’s the final result of their work? Yeah, to me, it’s very straightforward. I see that my leaders have improved in their leadership skills. But it’s really, you know, I had somebody in financial services say to me, once, you know, tomorrow, people work so hard, that average Australian is working really hard. And I want to make sure that they get, they get what their money works for them. And they are able to either, you know, have the retirement that they want or achieve or be able to live the lifestyle that they want, despite the fact that they are working so many long hours. And that is my role. And they could see that line of sight because you know, there was sitting down with people before and every role has that has that opportunity for that line of sight. There are also look, I think we underestimate the ability of listening, of really sitting down and listening to other people. I think there’s also a fear that if you understand what somebody is saying that means you agree with them. And for a leader to suspend judgment and simply listen to what’s going on with their staff. You know that that’s real empathy, you put aside your judgment, you just listen without prejudice, and you are just simply curious. Now the challenge with empathy and you know, this is a high level EQ, and it really works in teams is you may not be able to change the message you’ve got to give to your staff, you know, profits may have been down and no one’s getting bonuses, but the manner in which you delivered and the empathy for your employees as well as the communication throughout the year so that, you know, there’s this awareness variable pay is variable, you know, that all of that comes together. And that helps to build the spirit of your team. You know, EQ EQ is a big one, emotion intelligence because what emotion intelligence does understanding the impacts of emotions on your behavior, on the behavior of others, and also how emotions can maybe you to be more creative? That cultivating all of that within your He gives people within their scope the autonomy to, to thrive, and keep doing well. And I always have that to self awareness. And I, you know, there’s a lovely researcher called Dr. Tasha or if and she calls self awareness, the major skill of the 21st century. Because if we understand the impact of our behavior on others, then we know what we do that will help others thrive. And what we’re doing that’s just to put it really simply rubbing people up the wrong way. It’s so nice to say one last thing that just because I know, ultimately kindness, to be honest, you know, and I would imagine everybody sitting back when they thought about how they’re going to start their business and how they want to treat their people, if they just stop and think, Is this kind of, Am I just behaving in a kind manner, and we all respond to kindness, kindness, in feedback, kindness in motivation. Good morning, how are you how’s the weekend, you know, just simple manners, very old fashioned stuff. really delightful. And everyone loves being treated nicely. It’s very inspiring and motivating. And it seems

Jess Brady
so obvious, and so easy, yet I can imagine, it’s actually not as common as we would hope or expect it to be. But to your point, no one sets out to build a team that’s full of unkind leaders or for you to behave unkindly to your staff while you’re being so very kind. And so very EQ driven when you’re having conversations with clients, I think it’s a really interesting contradiction, actually, because we pride ourselves on having really great conversations with the clients that we help. But I often get feedback from the Financial Services community at large, that actually even having the opportunity to start having these conversations is rarely in place. So, you know, in small to medium business land, I think it’s probably fair to say, there isn’t a formal feedback loop often created for staff members, or, you know, just time in leaders diaries for staff to come up and feel safe to say, hey, I need to talk about something that might not be a client strategy. It might be a personal, you know, half month feeling about something that’s happened, because people are busy. And all of this stuff is not hard, but I think it gets pushed away when busyness happens is that does that sound familiar?

Tamar Balkin
Look, I think you know, ultimately, small business owners. It’s hard work. It’s just, you know, let’s be honest, there is a lot that falls on the shoulders of the small business owner, the buck stops with you for everything. Ultimately, of course, you have teams, of course you outsource some things that cetera but but that, that passion, and that weight of responsibility, you know, when I look at well being, and one of these huge demands, or dimensions of well being is what we call flow, where you get completely absorbed in an activity that you lose track of time, which, as listeners will notice is what happens to me when I talk about anything to do with psychology. But flipside of that can be this absorption in the work and then not the pause to say, Well, what does the team need and, and there is rigidity, sometimes in large corporates, you know, you have your one on one catch ups, and then the skip lever catch ups and who knows what those or complicated terms may be, to have a routine where you really do grab a coffee, have a half an hour phone, conversation, whatever it may be, whatever is practical, with every member of your team on a regular basis, it sets the tone, it makes it much more comfortable to raise issues, when they arise, also give praise, also get their input and their creativity, because let’s face it, all your staff are interacting with other customers. You’re not all talking to the same or they’re talking to other stakeholders, and they’ve probably got some really cool ideas and some really interesting perspectives and and I’m going to hazard a guess that everybody employees lovely, smart, capable individuals who who may respect and therefore you don’t want to send yourself short by not getting the opportunity to hear what people have to say. And I think to your point of why don’t we do it, I think that we also fall into bad habits. I think that what just happens is when we’re tired, stressed and bored, the dark side of our personality comes out. Now typically, the small owner, business owner may not fall in that board space, but they might, you know, there’s this thing Some Oh no, you’re always, you’re always inspired. But but maybe many not anymore. But to be self aware that what happens to you when you’re tired, stressed and bored? And what do you need to do for your well being in order to be aware that those things are happening? And then insert the pause and put a check on yourself and say, right, do I actually need? What things do I need to do? What are what I would call my well being non negotiables, in order to short circuit this time, because times often need to stress stress and boredom and boredom? And to start the the type of leader that you want to do want to be?

Jess Brady
Hmm, because I feel that that is very relevant to us, you know, we’ve had enormous regulatory change. And I feel that there are leaders who are feeling I mean, I would say tired, exhausted, probably frustrated and angry of all of the consistent regulatory change. And I’m keen for your thoughts just off the back of this while being non negotiable concepts like what are your tips and techniques like for us to get out of feeling like that?

Tamar Balkin
Okay, I think we can under estimating and it is worth noting the elephant in the room and with your teams, you know, it’s not just regulation that’s happened, we’ve had, we’ve had a global pandemic, the economy’s changing, there’s pressure, who knows what’s happening next. There are skills shortages, where there’s flow and effects to every industry. There was a there was loneliness that was coming into everybody’s lives and workplaces. And we’re already talking about well being before all of this happened. What I will say, because these are my rose colored glasses, and I’ve been in a highly regulated profession, since I was 21. And I’m now 50. There’s benefits to a regulated profession, there’s a lot of benefits, the fact that a potential client can look you up and see what are the rules around how you are meant to behave? And one of the ethical standards? And what is the regulation that influences what you do? And are you part of that? You know, or are you a snake oil sales salesman, it elevates your brand. It’s actually a brilliant thing. I mean, for me, it takes eight years to call myself an organizational psychologist and I have annual requirements. Every year with professional development. I have this code of ethics, but but there’s a whole lot then that comes with my brand. And the same will start to end there’s a complaints forum and all those obviously, there are spurious complaints. But back to your question, how do we refresh? How do we reboot? How do we know? How do we notice if we’re slipping into burnout, if we’re tired if we’re exhausted, and and, and sometimes we just need a jolly good break, we need a proper holiday, where we switch off completely, where we’re not thinking that anything to do with work, where you can shake off that physical exhaustion from work, because even if we’re not in labor jobs, we get tired, we get physically tired, and that requires boundaries. It requires some strong boundaries, which should then flow over into the work routine. So you know, maybe you can never stop thinking about your work because it’s your business, but you’re not going to send an email out on the weekend or after hours, you may save them as drafts and the techie people tell me you can schedule them to go later whatever it is. Yeah, you know, they’re your boundaries. Know what gives you flow flow is one of the things Martin Seligman talks about, which increases your well being and if you love your job, then carve out uninterrupted pockets of time. Yes, we cannot multitask. We switch tasks, complete, uninterrupted one of my client organizations and surgical the Hour of Power. And in that our emails are off. Everything’s off. I mean, you and I have carved out this pocket of time for this conversation. And, you know, everybody’s able to do it when they’re with a client. You’re not You’re not responding to emails, you’re giving them full attention. It’s it’s giving yourself permission for that. Yeah, things. Having time for relationships, in work and out of work that are healthy, that are enjoyable, remembering leisure. You know, leisure is not for retirees. Leisure is for all of us, and it’s carving out. What do you like to do for leisure? And how can you do it? You know, is the commute a great time to listen to a novel on Audible, or wherever your audio book thing is rather than the scrolling through reading the emails, etc, etc. If you’re not commuting, what are you going to do with that extra hour? Are you going to do engage in one of your lovely leisure activities, are you going to respond to emails? And how can you insert pauses in the day, I have a client who will just in between meetings sit for five minutes under a tree, there’s a there’s a concept called the third space. So the first space is where you’ve been. The second space is the time in the middle. And the third is where you’re going. And so if you have meetings that are 55 minutes, you can spend that little gap in between doing your third space. So what do you do you write your to do list, you wrap up all your ideas from where you have been, in the middle, your middle space, you do a relaxation when I call a relaxation quickie. And sometimes it’s just some deep breathing doesn’t have to be complicated, dancing around for some music, whatever it is. And then the last bit is what are you planning to get out of the next activity you’re going to so you’ll have a focus and a purpose. Those little micro pauses, engage you and energize you for the rest of the day. And they’re going to fill your wellbeing cup, because wellbeing is a seesaw from demands and resources. And the more sometimes, you know, a resource is delegation. It is is this actually urgent? Is it even important? Why on earth am I doing it? So that’s I’m gonna get rid of a resource rid of a demand. But other times, we need to be saying, well, what do we do to fill up our resources, I guess, to not forget the health bit because that’s what everybody talks about with well being. And I have a client, one of his well being non negotiables is his orange at morning tea. And I’m like, What’s so special about the orange, he said, Well, I put away my phone and my air pods, and then I eat this orange and oranges are messy. I can’t do any work. And I have to wash my hands afterwards. Sometimes I even have to floss. So the dentist is happy. And I’m taking a pause. And of course, you know, the vitamin C, and it’s a juicy piece of fruit, and I can give it all year round, and I can buy 10 and they can sit in the fridge and nothing’s gonna happen to them. And, you know, it’s just an example of one thing that you can do that’s manageable. You know, we often think that anything to do with well being is huge. And it’s complicated, and it’s expensive. And it needs to be individualized. And I get a lot of pleasure when I work with my clients and we work out well. What is it for them? What are their well being non negotiables? And how are they going to remain accountable other than to tell a colleague, it’s orange o’clock, or you tell your team remind me Wednesday is soccer practice, and I’m leaving at 5pm Hmm, you know, whatever it is, and, and as the leader back to the leaders role, be loud and proud about what you are doing. Tell your staff, I am going for a lunch break once a week, which means I’m not eating at my desk, and I’m finding fresh air.

Jess Brady
Hmm. I do really feel that the leader sets the tone with that, don’t they? Because if they’re the sort of leader that says, Every day, I see you wasting 15 minutes faffing about with an orange then you’re really saying to the entire team, you must look like you’re working at all times. Otherwise, my perception is you’re not productive. We’ve come so far in leadership, haven’t we? Because that was sort of the old way.

Tamar Balkin
Definitely.

Jess Brady
And so maybe we all need orange o’clock. I’m imagining it is messy. I’m imagining the issues that would come with orange o’clock. But I also think, you know, it’s important for us to unlearn that behavior, to unlearn that you need to be you know that that busyness, the concept of busyness isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be, you know, I felt like for a long time, it was like who was out busying each other I’m so busy, I’m so busy. And creating those boundaries. Personally tomorrow, I found it quite hard to build those boundaries, because there was just such a big pile of work. And I just thought, well, I have to plow through it. And I can promise you that that wasn’t the right strategy. Do you think that modern fantastic leaders are honest about their shift in mindset as well so that they can take their team on the journey if they have been like that in the past?

Tamar Balkin
There’s a really interesting thing around the self disclosure piece from a leader. So it can be a bit patronizing. What works better is to just do things Yeah, right. Just do it. Nike, just do it. You know? And, and just be aware and get your team to be accountable to keep you accountable. You know that it just becomes a habit. I had a client who was rubbing everybody up The wrong way. And he was a very motivated, enthusiastic guy. And he would just send these emails all the time. Because he had these ideas. And he said to me, but tomorrow, they’re not going to read them. I’ve told them not to read them. I said, Yeah, but they see your name in the inbox. And that’s enough. And it the penny dropped, because I, you know, I said, you know, we had to increase the self awareness, and how could he deal with his enthusiasm and his energy in a way that fed his soul, but it didn’t impact everybody else. I do know of one boss who took his employees phone, and deleted the Mail app and said, I do not want you having the when you’re not that this was a pre pandemic, when everyone was in the office, working off laptops, he said, I don’t want you to have anything to do with your work when you are not sitting at your desk. So you know, I mean, that that’s a that’s a, that’s definitely a public statement. That also that idea of just really talking about what you are trying to do, but also to realize the individual differences, you know, and that’s back to those conversations, get to know your team, because some people can concentrate for three hours straight. And then they need a long lunch break, and other people their concentrations only an hour, or they need a variety between talking to people and writing or talking and researching or planning or, you know, is a business development more effective on a Monday and also a bit of serendipity in life. So shake up the routine, encourage your staff to because ideas come whenever, for all sorts of different random occasions and and you need that break. What do one of my clients say to me thinking time in my diary, I need you know, there’s there’s an adage, you need time to be thinking about the business as well as working in the business. And I think that applies for roles and jobs as well. At Macquarie,

Jess Brady
they used to call it balcony time. And they used to say to us make sure that you’ve got time in your diary, to just think, and it’s an interesting, it’s an interesting way to get everyone in the business to feel like they’ve got time to think about ideas that will matter. Irrespective of whether you are a leader or not to be given permission to do that really fosters an ideas, based culture where people know that innovation is wanted and that you if you are up on the balcony looking like you’re dawdling about people know that that’s okay, that you’re not just staring into the wind thinking about what’s for dinner. I want to talk, I sort of mentioned it a little bit earlier, because I found this quite challenging through my own journey. And I know that many people in the podcast will have had similar experiences or going through similar experiences. When you’re a new leader, or you step into a leadership position where maybe you’ve worked in the business for a long time, and then you’ve taken on a leadership position, which can be challenging, I’d imagine it can be quite scary, and it can be a bit overwhelming. What, like, Is it normal to feel, you know, challenged when you take on a new leadership role? And if so, what would you say to the people that right now are going into work? Terrified, being a leader?

Tamar Balkin
So I think that, you know, I think for the most people, there’s this mix between excitement and pride. And you know, I’ve worked hard for this. Other people have acknowledged it. And then there’s the Wow, so what am I going to do with this responsibility? And there is inherently more complexity to my job, because it’s, it’s a different role. I think the other thing is, is that people, you also know whether you’re new to the organization or you’ve been in the organization, people have preconceived ideas of how they think about how you’re gonna behave, what you think about particular topics, how much you know about industry, etc. Unfortunately, social psychologists have found that first impressions do count that we do make judgments upon others, it doesn’t mean that we can’t rectify that. Certainly not. And everybody’s made, you know, blunders and and have recovered from them. I think there’s also everybody has around you has a belief about what a leader should be. So there is that there is a book called What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. In other words, there really is a step out. So there is preparation you can do you know, remind yourself what is it about this industry about this firm? About this role, that’s really exciting. What types of things do you want to achieve? What are your broad strategic goals? What, you know financial growth, market share corporate image innovation, culture, employees, all of that? What do other people expect from you? So what are the stakeholders expect? If there’s a board? If there are funders, if you’re reporting into somebody, what do they expect? What to your external customers expect? What’s you know, what’s going on outside the business? So what are the external impacts on the business? Who’s the competitor, what what’s going to be your competitive advantage? What are trends, then you need to define your ethics and values, sit down and work out what your ethics are, so that when you get to the gray areas, and they will inevitably happen, and they’ll happen all the time, that you know how you’re making decisions, because all that stuff we just spoke about about boundaries and well being and how you’re going to behave well. You need to know what really matters to you to know what calls you’re going to make. In all those situations. And the more senior UI, any type of organization, the more complicated the decisions that you’re going to make. And the less frameworks and guidelines there are, because there’s, there’s this gray. And so knowing what it is, the other thing is, know your purpose and know your purpose, you know, which is who, what, who is benefiting from what you are doing.

Jess Brady
It’s almost like when you take on a leadership position, you need to sit down and write your framework about who you’re going to be. Because you made a point earlier around like, well, who are you going to be as a leader and just sort of needing to step into almost a persona that maybe doesn’t always feel like you, but still with your ethics and boundaries. And I think that that’s a really fascinating concept to step into a leadership position, but also to step into behaving in a way that might be new and scary, but he’s aligned to what you want to be and how you want to be as a leader. Quite a lot of intentionality behind that, that I don’t think I’ve ever given thought, enough thought to actually sitting and writing down. But I like the idea. The other

Tamar Balkin
thing is don’t forget your what I would call your cheer squad? Who is it that encourage you to take this role? Who is it that is who’s going to benefit from your success? And how can you get them to motivate you because it’s going to get tough? Hmm, increase, keep working on your self awareness. So get feedback, and feedback from people who actually will see the things you want them to see and who are comfortable to give you that feedback, and then act on it, digest it, you know, get a very, you know, you guys know how to research right? You don’t just use one source, get a variety, think about it, integrate it, and then work on it. And and think about also with that self awareness piece, how do you remain motivated, you know, all those leaders who had to take their organization through the really stressful patch? Where there was regulation where there was investigation? How did they what is it that that will keep you going? What will drive you do you need a picture on your laptop of the customer? So that you know that it’s Mary Lou, who and it’s to keep Mary Lou’s life well, and financial well being etc. And that’s why you’re doing the work. So know what that is. And and, and I guess also, the keeping on track thing is know, when you have to pivot, you know, and you are you vary, and whether that pivot is in the composition of your team in what people are focused on, in or in, you know, the economy has shifted, suddenly, I don’t think anybody predicted what was going to happen to interest rates, you know, how are you going to pivot? And do you need to do something different to make yourself stand out as an organization? And so all of that is the ongoing thought and also think about what support do you need? Who do you need somebody external to your organization, with whom you can bounce ideas off, grow yourself as a leader? You know, I think, you know, it’s, it’s a lovely opportunity for my clients that when they talk to me, they know that I don’t sit in their business. I don’t have any influence over the work. They get their pay their opportunities, et cetera, et cetera. And because I’m a registered organizational psychologist, it’s completely confidential. They don’t have to talk with tech necessarily. They can talk openly about situations ideas, Mal it through and help clarify because, yes, you’re saying sit down and work out what type of Later you want to be, but it’s not all that easy to do on your own. And, and also to knock out the conundrums when they arrive. So you have this circumstance and you’ve got, you’ve got to make a call within whatever period of time you think you know your values and ethics, but you really want an unbiased, non judgmental external context in which to have that conversation and decide and think through the consequences, make a rational decision, etc. So, there is a lot, but there’s also, I think that the thing for all of new leaders to do is to pause and go, ah, you know, I got here on my merits, and I’ve worked hard, and this is really cool. You know, that positive emotion to double up and that sense of pride and enjoyment and satisfaction. True. I

Jess Brady
think that’s true for all leaders to take the time to do that, because it can be lonely, and it can be really hard to your point. Socially, I could talk to you all day. Now I just need to do a small plug, because I have got so many people that I get newsletters from yours is one that I have been on the list for a long time and your newsletters are so good, I just need to say that in a very public fashion. And I think sincerely and I don’t think I’ve ever said this about anyone who’s come on as a guest. No offense, if you do newsletters, I might not be getting them, or they may not be as good as tomorrow. But I think everyone could learn from yours, because it’s very evident that you practice what you preach in terms of reflection and well being and looking after yourself. And it’s, you know, it comes out in your work. So if people want to learn a bit more about you, before we get into rapid fire questions, how can they and how can they sign up to your bloody good newsletter?

Tamar Balkin
Firstly, thank you, I don’t know whether it’s because I put little song references. I have a bit of fun. And I think that’s something we’ve forgotten to actually mention today is work can be funny. I am I chose a really simple business name Balkan coaching, no one had used it. So that’s easy, otherwise, to my Balkan on LinkedIn, find me say g’day and will and everything’s from me. So all my old blogs are on my website. So volken coaching.com.au. And, and also, there’s a Contact Me form and I can pop you on to the MailChimp. So thank you, thank you.

Jess Brady
To round out today’s very, very good conversation. I’d love to finish with a piece or a few, I should say rapid fire questions. Are you ready?

Tamar Balkin
Let’s go.

Jess Brady
I would love to know, what is one thing that you do to martial look after your mental health,

Tamar Balkin
I practice what I preach. I try really hard and I also kept my slow self slack when I don’t. So but I take all the elements of well being boundaries flow, physical health, I’m very proactive with my physical health, and very actually, like preventative act upstream and look at you know, what can I do to minimize the likelihood of I’ve carved out a good career. Good social contacts. And I know as a sole trader, I know when I need social contact professionally. And so I will have coffees, I will meet people other than my clients, I will go to events with colleagues and and I will learn so. Yeah,

Jess Brady
very well rounded answer. I’d love a piece of advice that you would give to younger tomorrow.

Tamar Balkin
Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today. So I could have become a full member of the College of organizational psychologists at the age of 25. And I couldn’t be bothered doing any more paperwork. And when I waited to my 40s when the legislation changed and the title was restricted, I needed to do 80 hours of individual supervision 80 hours of professional development and fill in so many more hours. Yes, it was sort of a reminder. Painful and

Jess Brady
good lesson for us. One thing that’s on your bucket list,

Tamar Balkin
um well it’s a place I’ve been before but I want to go back and I am fond of travelling in Australia and the Ningaloo Reef in Exmouth in Western Australia is just one of the hidden gems of our country and this is where the whale sharks are. Yes, yes. And, and baby turtles hatch but also, you walk off the sand with your snorkel and there is a reef and there is a wildlife and the water is turquoise. And the sand is white and he’s no one else there. You just like Where shall I sit? It’s just absolutely. And it doesn’t matter what season you go. And so you’re on this tropical island, but you’re in Australia. So there’s Vegemite at the local IGA. And it’s just seven red earth and all those wonderful things. And just Yeah, I love our country. And that is a really magical spot.

Jess Brady
Last question, I know that you’ve been stewing on this gets a lot of people stressed. Do you have a book recommendation for my fake book club?

Tamar Balkin
Can I give more than one?

Jess Brady
Yeah, I mean, you absolutely can. It stresses me out because then I’ve got to read more great things, but please do

Tamar Balkin
Okay, so my self awareness book is called Insight by Tasha aura all about self awareness. There is also a book called upstream by Chip Heath and Dan, he always good to have a psychologist and a marketer, as brothers who write books together. They’ve written a few other books as well, which the audience may find. So just hook up Chip and Dan Heath, another now this is a novel, but I think that for this audience who may find it really interesting, there’s a novelist called Sebastian forks. And he wrote a book called a week in December. And it was set around the Christmas of the week before Christmas in 2007, just before the GFC it is just, it traces the lives of a couple of characters all in different sorts of walks of life. And it’s fascinating, absolutely fascinating.

Jess Brady
So amazing.

Tamar Balkin
He’s a great author, have a look at some of his other books as well, all sorts of diverse topics, but Sebastian Fox, so I thought I better choose something that’s good for the audience.

Jess Brady
Thank you all tomorrow. I know that you and I could talk deeper and longer about all of those points that you made today. But I think you have given all of us a lot of opportunity to reflect on a very big year, but also what we can do from a self awareness and leadership perspective in the year ahead. So a ginormous thank you on behalf of the expat community for being today’s guest.

Tamar Balkin
Thank you for having me and have a very relaxing summer get some sand in your toes and some mango in your teeth and just enjoy all that we have to offer. Thanks for having me.

Listen to the podcast on the links below or on your favourite platform

General disclaimer for this podcast and all XY Education podcasts
https://www.xyadviser.com/disclaimer/

DISCLAIMER: The XY Adviser website and all content contained on the website is limited to general information. It does not constitute legal, financial or other professional advice. XY Adviser does not hold an AFS licence and does not provide any financial services. Nothing on this website should be interpreted as financial advice. Before making any investment decision, XY Adviser recommends obtaining financial advice from a qualified financial adviser.