Colin Hunter 0:07
Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of the leadership tales podcast. My name is Colin Hunter, and today I have the utter delight of being joined by one of my favourite people, Dr. Liane Davey, author of The Good Fight, Author of Inspire your team to grow up, get along and get stuff done. What a great title for a book. She will entertain us, she will entertain you today in terms of her thoughts and her engaging sense of, of passion and energy for the topic. She's got in there, she'll talk about how she's fighting a fight on a number of fronts, her work and strategy. And what she does, and LinkedIn is amazing, but also just recently, her work with No-vember what she's saying No to in November. I've just It's kept me going throughout November, keeping into the conversations there. So you're going to hear a number of things today from Liane around her works, they call her the teamwork doctor.
And I think if I have team issues, I'm going directly to her to get her in. And the good fight is about positive conflicts, you'll hear some messages in there about positive conflict and the use of conflict to change, change the dynamics and change conversations that are happening in your organisation. So I'm delighted to have Liane Davey on today, I look forward to the for getting your feedback on what you think of the conversation too.
delighted to be joined by a Canadian today. Leon Devi, a friends we met today as a conference for those who might have heard me talk about is is a gathering of some of the greats and maybe not so great, in my case, in the learning profession together, and we share ideas and share thoughts. And this lady is incredible in terms of thinking she's got some great ideas. She's the author of a number of books, which I'll let her tell you about. But I'm going to love this conversation today. I'm sure and I hope you do as well. So Liane. Welcome.
Liane Davey 2:06
Thanks, Colin, I'm so excited to be here.
Unknown Speaker 2:09
Tell me a bit about yourself. Because you got a fascinating story. I love it. But I'd love for them to hear a bit of a history of you.
Liane Davey 2:15
Yeah. So I am somebody who is trying to make work a more meaningful part of people's lives. And that's just the mission that I'm on in the world. And so about six years ago, my husband and I quit our jobs to create a tiny little firm we call 3COze. And it's called 3COze because of the mission, which is to transform the way people communicate, connect, and contribute so they can achieve amazing things together. So those are the three codes. So we do that in basically two ways, working primarily with CEOs and their executive teams, both on strategy, executive team effectiveness and mobilising the top 100 leaders. And then I take those insights. And I try and share them in service to, you know, people we can't work with directly through books, through blogs, through keynote, speaking those sorts of things. But really at the heart of it, it's really about collaboration. And our specialty is that helping people achieve amazing things together. So that's what gets me up in the morning. And it sure is hard, fun, interesting work. Never worried about not having enough team dysfunction to pay my mortgage. So
Colin Hunter 3:29
it's one of those ones where you go, Well, will we ever not be needed? And it's like no, we are needed in the background. Yeah, to help.
Liane Davey 3:39
I think even the AI bots are at some point gonna start fighting with each other. So I'm like, we're good.
Colin Hunter 3:45
Wouldn't it be great to coach a bot? Yeah. Conversational button coaching. And then what I love is you've been labelled, I was doing my bit of research, and you've been labelled a teamwork, doctor. So we got a doctor in the house. A teamwork doctor? Where did that come from?
Liane Davey 4:01
Oh just a client of a friend who you know, was I think they were introducing me to their team and they did that serious bio, you know, when people read the bio, and you're like, Oh, God, don't say those things. And so it's like Liane has a PhD in organisational psychology and, as soon as they hear the psychology, everybody's looking for the couch and the inkblots, right? So I think this person was like, no, no, no, no, no, no, she's, she's a teamwork doctor. Somebody else went in a different direction with the same thing. They're like, No, she's not a couch psychologist. She's a water cooler psychologist. Oh, I know. So I get the water cooler psychologist more now. And I think what it is, is people who know the work, who are trying to help people understand that it's not going to feel like therapy and it's not going to start with, tell me about your mother, but yeh, you know, there is the rigour, the evidence base, so you kind of get the doctor honorific as the like, no, no, you should listen to her, but just so you know, it's actually gonna be fun.Yeah.
Colin Hunter 5:01
And I think that's beautiful. Because that sort of sums you up, you get a series and then you get the humorous side. And tell us a bit about where you live. And work?
Unknown Speaker 5:14
So I live in Toronto and have lived in Toronto, or very close to Toronto, my whole life. So extremely boring, except I am in love with the world. And so we've spent the last few years closing down the business for a sabbatical every August and we've taken the family to five continents, exploring, you know, renting houses, living in homes, going to local grocery stores, and sort of being a citizen of the world. So I would say, that's one of the major aspects of me is, although I'm a homebody, I'm really I'm so Canadian, it's so painful how Canadian I am. It's just terrible. And hopefully, in the good ways and bad ways. But really, I get tremendous joy from being a citizen of the world. And I guess the only other interesting thing about me is I'm an adult onset tap dancer, that I started, took up tap dancing at 40 took up hip hop dancing at 48. That is very funny. I just invite you to imagine me doing hip hop, my husband and I are the two the two sole employees of 3COze. And we've got two girls, one in university and one in high school.
Colin Hunter 6:26
Ah so we 've got something in common - we've got two daughters. So yeah, no, nice. We could talk about it. I describe myself as a father of daughters, you know, people say, so why do you say that? And so for many reasons, but that's another story. So
Liane Davey 6:39
It means something, actually I think, you know, next time we see each other, you'll have to commiserate, you have to go and commiserate with Craig about being a father of daughters. You know, it's a thing.
Colin Hunter 6:50
It's a blessing. It's a blessing. Keep saying that. Yeah. And if they're listening to this, because I love you. That's exactly it. Probably be embarrassed by this and get really, why would I want to listen to my dad and one of these podcasts things.
Liane Davey 7:04
I know, my kids will never listen. But they now now that they're in the house, and we're all together, they hear me giving speeches, and now they know that they are part of my speeches, which, you know, I'm like, Well, tough, too bad.
Colin Hunter 7:15
You know, I have a great teaching point for my oldest daughter. And one point, when I was about leading my own people, she used to come and sit in my desk, let's sit below my desk as you sit in the floor. And there was one moment while I was doing something, and she looked up at me, kicked me and said bully, and it was one of those powerful bits of fear. And I sort of was just about to react and argue. And then I realised that whether it was called for or not, the behaviour I just demonstrated was no good. And therefore there was that moment of later on of just being so proud of her, she wasn't that old 12 or 13. But to spot that.
Liane Davey 7:52
my younger ones the same. She came with me to a speech, and I'm going to say she was maybe nine or 10. She's a little, and she took like pages of notes. And one of her notes was did you realise that you don't look at the left side of the room? And I was like, what? And it turns out, she's right, like I have some hemisphere neglect thing where I really do pay more attention to one side. And I've noticed now, I pay more attention to one side of the page when I'm reading and like, so. Yes. Sometimes out of the mouths of babes say, wow. Oh, yeah, well, people liked it. Like, no, they have low standards. And I'm like, You're nine. But no, she was bang on. So our daughters well, a bright future for them.
Colin Hunter 8:39
I know. And I love it. Because one of the concepts I'd love to talk to you about is how you've done what you've done, because you've got a number of books. Tell us about your books? And then i'll ask some questions.
Liane Davey 8:49
So my first book was written with colleagues in the consulting firm that I used to work at. And it was really fun, because they had written a book called The leadership gap. So I came in. And of course, as soon as you put a book out on the market called the leadership gap, it's kind of incumbent on you to figure out the next book, which is how do you close the leadership? Yeah, and so I had this contribution to thinking about the role of the individual, because I was a psychologist coming in. And so I was thinking about how the individual fits within the context of both the culture and the system of the organisation. And so they said, hey, well, you know, that's a great idea, you know, come in and write the book with us. So that books called Leadership solutions, and it's really a reference book. It's not in my voice. It's sort of fits with them. So then I of course, had this huge desire to write my book. And so I wrote 'You First - Inspire your team to grow up, get along and get stuff done'.
Colin Hunter 9:47
Sounds like my dad talking to me!
Liane Davey 9:50
You know me well enough to know that it wouldn't say stuff if it wasn't on the cover of a book. So it'd be another more colourful S word. So I talk a little bit about the way I think about my business is a little bit like Dr. Oz and Dr. Oz. Now it's a bit of a crackpot. And it's probably a bad metaphor, but but people understand what I mean, when they say, the vast majority of my life, he's a cardiac surgeon, right. So he's wheeling sick people into the or cracking them open. And of course, at that point, the risk is high, some people die on the table. And that's how I feel about teams, once they get really toxic, is that I'm kind of wheeling them in the OR, cracking them open, it's expensive, the recovery is long, and there are teams that don't survive the process. And so at some point, Dr. Oz was like, Look, this is so frustrating, I need to get out and help people be healthy, stay healthy, so that I don't see this. And that will be my service, in a show in a magazine, whatever. So that's how I think about my life, I still love the really deep work helping teams, even teams that are in trouble. But then I switch to I need to write a book that instead of, you know, the heart attack, like dealing with a heart attack, here's the kind of healthy living habits. And so 'You First' is that, and 'You First' the promise of the book is that from any seat at the table, even if you're just a member of a team, you're not the team leader, whatever you can change your team for the better. So that was that book. And it was my first attempt to say, I'm going to try and do things that help people proactively keep their teams healthy instead of having to deal with toxic teams. So that was that book. And then, as I worked with that book, as I spent more and more time I zeroed in on one of the chapters in that book was called Embrace productive conflict. And it became clear that that was the biggest ask, that was the thing that people couldn't do. They didn't know how to do they couldn't get their minds around it. And so my more recent book, 'The Good Fight' goes deep into what's the cost of avoiding conflict? How do we do it better and then the big breakthrough for me in that book was figuring out that we need to move from conflict as an event. So all the conflict literature right now is about conflict as an event difficult conversations, fierce conversations, Crucial Conversations, radical candour, it's all an event. And as someone who hates conflict, having to like steal myself, but for this, like big event of conflict, I was just not doing it often enough, I was using the like, I'll just pick my battles line. And so what I cracked in the good fight was how do we make productive conflict, a habit, so less like root canal, more like flossing? And so that's what I'm proudest about in that book is this idea that we need to go beyond this conflict as a habit conflict as a conversation model. And get to know we need productive tensions in high frequency low impacts so that we're not having to have these things, build up resentment and kind of like, having people blow their top, or get super stressed out so that I'm really proud of that in the good fight and the good fight. It's two years old now, but still finding new audiences. And yeah, so it's such an important topic. And I have to say, as a Canadian, right, like, Oh, holy, like, in general, we really, really suck at conflict. We're a very passive aggressive people, which most people don't know about us. They think. I know, it's like, I know, the tourism poster says we're really nice. Very nice, you know, to your face. Don't turn around. So yeah, we're we passive aggressiveness is is a bit of a challenge. We're working through it.Colin Hunter:
So two things that are making me think so I want to, I'm going to come back to the Grawe piece because that had a reaction. You heard me say, no, no one want to come back to that. But I wanted to pick up the good fight. And that apart from being a great TV series, as well, so...Liane Davey:
I named the book before that.Colin Hunter:
So if you're looking for the good fight, you might get a TV programme and not the book. So I'll give you the details later on. There is this piece that I was in a workshop the other day, and somebody said we were talking about Tuchman stages of team formation, and the storming is one phase, but people say do we need to storm it? You know, they weren't Canadians, but there were people saying it, but tell it talk to me about the system of conflict and productive conflict because that we talked about habits, and I'm a great believer in James clear's work about habitsLiane Davey:
Yeah, Atomic Habits, that just makes it seem like really awesome.Colin Hunter:
It is awesome. It's changed my life. Me being ad advocate. So there's this bit about, we don't raise the level objectives, we fall to the level of our systems. So your talked about habits, but talk to me about the system of productive conflict for those listening because that would be useful.Liane Davey:
Yeah, that's probably what I've spent the most time working on is making productive conflict a system. And so there are two core tools that we use, and I just decided if I was going to, you know, help people achieve amazing things together. I had to give these things away for free in the book or watch for 20 bucks. So they're in the book. And the first one is a tool that allows you to get clearer with one another about expectations. So what is the unique value of each layer in an organisation? How do they add that value proactively before work is done instead of reactively. So the stupid analogy I use is imagine you're in a team meeting, and it's about five minutes before the end, and you're kind of packing up your stuff and everybody's getting fidgety. And the boss says, like, hang on, don't don't go anywhere yet. So I got this message from on high that apparently the company is doing a bake sale to raise money for charity. And I need I need everybody to bake for the bake sale, and you're in a huge hurry and the boss is in a hurry, and you're like, Fine, I'll bake Okay, whatever. It's everybody runs off. And so you're racking your brain trying to figure out what you're going to bake. And so you decide that your carrot zucchini muffins are always a huge hit with your friends. And so you're going to make your carrots, zucchini muffins, and you slaved over them. And you're so proud of them. When you bring in this tray of muffins, the golden crispy tops, and then you see John and John's bought doughnuts from the store. And even the side I like of course you just bought doughnuts from the store, John. So you're feeling all proud. And the boss takes one look at your muffins and goes muffins, who makes muffins for a bake sale. And then the boss kind of goes like, I'll fix it and he grabs a thing of like m&ms or something from the from the vending machine, he starts shoving m&ms into your carrot muffins, your beautiful muffins. So I always tell a stupid story. Because I feel like this is exactly what happens in organisations all the time, we get unclear directions, we don't take time to get aligned. We don't admit that we aren't clear, we go off and do a bunch of work sometimes just to show that, you know, we take accountability and whatever else, we do the work, we never let anyone taste the batter. We just like go straight to the finished product. And then they're disappointed in that product. They kind of change it after the fact where it tends to not work and make everybody feel frustrated, I'm frustrated, you ruined my beautiful work, you're frustrated that I didn't get the spec right in the first place. And this is what happens all the time. And I get a lot of leaders are like Liane, I have been known to shove m&ms into a baked muffin. So when we add this language around, okay, like, let's get aligned on the recipe. Is this a bake sale for a bunch of vegans in Birkenstocks? Or is this a bake sale for a bunch of kids? Like, we need to know because it matters, right? And then this is the recipe I'm going to bake is that good? Because it's a lot easier to change the course on what recipe before you've bought the ingredients, and then taste the batter. And right, there's a lot of stages. And so this process that we've built helps teams to get clarified on what's the unique value of every layer, how does every layer set the next layer up to be successful? How do we add that value more proactively less reactively? And then, you know, what's the value we can add in the review and governance of work with people expecting that they're not going to get a rubber stamp and a gold star that people when they bring work are going to improve it but the improving it is more like maybe some sprinkles on top not like shoving m&ms into the batter. So that's the first process that radically radically changes the frequency with which things turn into conflict, because people know what they need to do to set everybody else up for success. So that's half of the equation. The second half of the equation is a process for naming and mapping the tensions that should exist on a healthy team. This is the problem. I think we've come to accept that horrible, horrible poster of rowers, as our metaphor. And actually it was really funny because I had somebody in this session yesterday talking about, well for me, we need to really be like the people in the rowers. And I'm like, oh, no, he doesn't know that my whole shtick.
So I said, You know what? Yes, we have common goals when we're on cross functional teams. But we aren't in the same boat. We aren't pulling the same direction. In fact, our entire purpose is to pull in different directions. We have different expertise. We have different stakeholders, we are obliged to put tension so we want sales, pushing to make something more compelling, more customised, more differentiated and we want operations pulling hard to say no we want it more standardised, more consistent, more scalable. Those two should always be intention. And at the same time, quality should be like, Oh, hey, and right. So this second process that we roll out broadly in organisations is to map the tensions that are supposed to be there to help people have a language and an empathy for the different perspectives and to get to what I call, you know, conflict as a feature, not a bug. And so those two processes that make these natural tensions and conflicts a habit, that we have these conversations extremely frequently with low intensity, that's the system that helps us make productive conflict as part of our everyday conversations, as opposed to these big events.Colin Hunter:
Loves that. I love the sticking m&ms, the m&m analogy, the other one was the the rock band that used to refuse to have brown m&ms...Liane Davey:
Oh, yeah. So that's a great story. That was Van Halen. Yeah. And it turns out that that was like, brilliant. It had nothing to do with m&ms. It was that there. Rider was apparently like 70 some odd pages of how to put up their stage properly. And people weren't doing it. Well. And so there's a lot of risks. Like if whoever David Lee Roth or whomever it is, I'm going to show my Van Halen ignorance but is climbing the light thing, and it hasn't been put up properly. There's huge risk. And so I think on like page 63, they put in the Rider a bowl of m&ms with no brown ones or whatever. And then all they had to do was walk in, look at the bowl of m&ms and immediately they knew of what level of detail that the people setting up the stage had done. I'm like, okay, these are some smartass rockers they like, really brilliant, really. And of course, the story gets told us just almost like they're divas, who don't like brown m&ms. And of course it was was very strategic and brilliant. I love that story.Colin Hunter:
It is and it was in a book called BMO pirates. It's well worth a listen. So I'm loving that bit. And we use something called brief back check back. So that honest question that leaders could ask, which is I've told you something now, play back to me.Liane Davey:
Well, yeah, I love that.Colin Hunter:
Yeah. And then you can do small check backs with them.Unknown Speaker:
I'm talking a lot about that in the context of remote teams, because I find alignment is really struggling or struggling to get to alignment. And then if I listened to leaders, they give out instructions, and then their whole alignment check is like, so you good? Whose going to be like, actually, no, no, I'm an idiot. So the the I love that reflect check back because it's like, Okay, tell me in your own words. So I know that you actually have interpreted it the same way. So I think that's, I believe in that advice all the time. I think it's extra important in remote teams. As opposed to you good?Colin Hunter:
And I think it's one of those where I've realised that we're rubbish communicator, whatever. Really, you got that. So maybe I need to simplify my message or get somebody else to write it what I'm doing it. So talking about the tensions and working in there, because there's a tension between that I love to pick up from your other book, which is getting your team to grow up. Yeah. And I have this philosophy about creating playgrounds where it's fun. So there's a tension in there about growing up versus having fun. And therefore you're, you're asking people to have serious tension in some ways. Yeah, how can how can that be fun, and could it be engaging would be just a useful thing to say....Liane Davey:
I love that. So for me grow up is like, own your crap. That's all I mean, by that, really, it's, it's funny, because when I was working with a PR firm to do the PR campaign for that book that the leader of the PR firm read it, and he said, this is basically a book about accountability. And I said, yeah, he's like, you know, you could call it a team book, or whatever else. But this is a book about accountability. I said, You're right. And that's what the Grow Up is about. It's essentially stop pointing at everybody else to make your team more effective, and start changing the way you act because teams are a dynamic. So you know, we always think about the wicked person on the team. But in my experience, the wounded person on the team is equally as much of a problem as so is the witness. So if we can think about wicked wounded and witness in any team, that it doesn't matter which one of those three you are in the given situation. If you change your behaviour, you'll change the team dynamics. So that's why grow up is in there. In terms of play. I mean, there's this massive proponent of play, and I think when you do own your stuff, when you're willing to be vulnerable and say, Hey, like, that was not how I want to show up and I blew it in there or whatever, then there's a safety with one another to play and to have some fun and to go out on a limb, and all those things because there's the confidence that the trust is real. And the trust can withstand errors, mistakes, bumps in the road conflicts. So I think it's liberating when you're on a team with people who own their stuff, then, then you can just be more liberated to be playful. And you know, if you get it wrong, if you're a little, because we've all done that, right, we're all having this hilarious. We're at the pub, we're teasing or whatever. And then all of a sudden, you you tease, and it's hurtful. And you're like, oh, but if you know that the person who's crossed the line is willing to say, sorry about that. I like that totally didn't come out how I meant it. And the person on the other end is like, yeah, okay, I was probably being overly sensitive, then you can keep going. Yeah. So yeah, right. If people aren't owning their stuff, if they are being immature about it, if they're being childish about it, then there's no, you're not at liberty to push the boundaries, either with play or with serious conversations. I think that grow up peace really allows us to go to all the fun places, and I like to play for sure. As much as the next person.Colin Hunter:
I know, and it's an it's an important, it's interesting, because you go back to the principles that you know, the conscious mind and, and the fact that in the moment, your thoughts, your feelings are just a projection your thoughts in the moment, I love that Jaime smart peace and clarity, where he talks about that as a child, you just have this reset, automatic reset your mind goes. So you have a conflict with a friend. And suddenly, next time you're best pals, you're crying next, you're laughing. And actually, as we grow older and get a degree more serious, then that we can hold things in because we don't want to admit we're wrong. Well, we can argue, but actually, I love that. And I love the wicked wounded and witness piece. I think that is great.Liane Davey:
And it's so interesting. I did an article for HBr about this wicked, wounded witness. And somebody wrote a question about it. And I like which is more the issue or whatever. I said, Actually, counter intuitively, in my experience, the person who has to leave the team to rehabilitate it is much more likely to be the wounded than the than the wicked. So the wicked person in my experience, you can usually help them accomplish what they need to accomplish in a way that's more constructive. As a wounded person who's become the victim whose narrative has become that they are victimised or that I find many people cannot recover from that. And they'll go on to be happy and productive and everything else somewhere else. But again, what you were talking about as we grow older, our positions calcify, and we just, we can't get past that victim narrative. And so it is counterintuitive, but my experience is that once I am working with a team long enough to know that somebody can't believe, again, they can't. And you know what, as animals, it's smart that we have brains that create aversions to things that was constructive, that kept us safe. And so sometimes we kind of overshoot, but that's okay. And so keeping that wounded person on the team for too long, can be extremely destructive to them, because they're not having a positive experience and to the whole dynamic of the team. So that was one of the really interesting findings for me was that we all key in on the wicked person, but it's that wounded person that is the most toxic to a team dynamic in some cases.Colin Hunter:
So I'm going to try and put myself as somebody who suffers from imposter syndrome and has most of life and it's part of the book and I'm a recovering, you know, I am recovering, I'm, again, I look at it and think so you're asking people to provide or create productive conflict. And this is not meant to catch you out. But then you're saying that the person is the wounded is the most likely to suffer. And quite a few people listening, I'm sure will be like, so that's the reason I don't do productive conflict, because I am likely to be the wounded and be the one who suffers from that. So, right. Would you deal with that?Liane Davey:
Yeah, so that's where the skills of teaching those conflict avoidant people how to engage skillfully, so that they are less likely to create an aggressive backlash reaction, and more likely to get to the other side. It's also why I'm extremely hard on witnesses. Because once a wicked and a wounded are in a dynamic and sometimes it's too wicked, and sometimes it's too wounded to be fair, but once you have two people emotionally invested in a dispute, neither of them is in a great position to get themselves out whole. That witness who's who's grown up with mentors who told them to mind their own business, mind their own business is the advice I'm madly trying to change in the world. Because that person sitting at the same table who's now just checking their email to avoid, you know, getting into this melee, that's the person with the most power in the situation to help to help them hear one another, to help them realise that they're actually fighting about two different things. And there is a way to have both of those things be true, and to solve for that, etc, etc. So my mission is to help the wounded person find the words like literally the sentences, the words they can use to engage constructively in a way that's not vicious in a way that feels to them. Like they can look themselves in the mirror at night and be proud of themselves. So helping them for sure. But at the same time, mobilising the witnesses to say you need to help like, you know, in you first, there's a chapter called amplify other voices. So if somebody is bullying, like, get on the other side, and don't let them use sarcasm, to shut things down, don't let them use bullying tactics to shut things down, you help loan your confidence, your credibility to the person who is wounded, and you know, make space for their points, don't let the other person away with it. So it's for me a process of dealing as a facilitator with all three, I'm going after the wicked person, like, you know, okay, how could you say that with no adjectives I'm very against adjectives in teams, I think they do all sorts of damage, it's ban the adjective, because that's where all the judgement lies. And that's where all the misinterpretation lies, right? Rigorous to one person is a compliment to the other person is an insult. So I'm working on all three. But I would say if you are somebody who's telling yourself a story about how you know you, you're being bullied or whatever else, you need help to find the words to advocate for yourself. And don't be shy to bring someone else in the conversation to say, you know, call in Am I missing something here? Like, am I taking this the wrong way? How are you hearing this? So bring throw, like ask for a lifeline from from somebody else in the conversation, you use a question to do it. But it's really important to realise that if you are avoiding the conflict, you are a major contributor to the fact that the team is stuck in conflict, you aren't off the hook. And so you know, when we're thinking about people of colour, when we're thinking about other underrepresented groups, marginalised people, how do you find the words to be able to advocate yourself in ways that you won't be you know, with all of the racism that exists? We don't want you to link labelled as like the angry black woman, because you're advocating for yourself. So how do we get the words that are constructive? But how do we also say to everyone else at the table, you can't be silent? Do not mind your own business, help these people to the other side of this constructively. So the challenge of the work is thinking about each of the three individuals and then thinking about the system.
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