Strength Calibration

Catherine Flavin and Nasheela O'DowdSeason 4Episode 5


Catherine Flavin and Nasheela O’Dowd work in Leadership Development for Whole Leader. They talk about gender bias in feedback and share ideas about the importance of finding and using your strengths, as well as finding and using the strengths of others.


Catherine Flavin and Nasheela O'Dowd

Catherine Flavin and Nasheela O'Dowd

Whole Leader is all about the practical use of hard-won wisdom. Their work is centered on a fundamental goal of modern leadership, how to add more value efficiently together to get sustainable results, scale as leaders, and craft lives worth living. In the process, they create a shared experience of recognizing and outsmarting unnecessary rat-race anxiety and some of the sneakiest gender biases that creep into how we give and receive feedback. And hopefully, have some fun doing it along the way. With decades of experience, Whole Leader knows leadership is learnable, and they are relentless in their focus on value creation.

Catherine Flavin is known to help leaders at all levels reframe how to be successful in the face of systemic challenges. She considers herself not an advice giver, but in the arena with us carrying a lot of tools. When leaders tell her how they experience something, Catherine offers a seasoned view of what is happening, what is normal, and what it might or might not be about. In the process, she can be excellent company on a windy and sometimes absurd journey.

Nasheela O’Dowd, as the firm’s global Head of Leadership Development and CRM, brings the wisdom she’s gained from years on Wall Street with a results-focus and kindness that enables clients to execute exceptional programs with less stress. She’s deeply aware of what clients and leaders need to do and deliver internally and how to set up feedback processes and programs in ways that create and elevate—not destroy nor deplete—the drive to produce and grow together. She chooses to be at Whole Leader because of the teamwork that the firm not only advances but lives day to day.


Troy Blaser (00:04):
Hello and welcome to Simply Feedback, the podcast hosted by LearningBridge. I'm your host for today, Troy Blaser, and it's great to have you along with us. We have two guests on the episode today, Catherine Flavin and Nasheela O'Dowd, both of whom work for a company called Whole Leader. Let me tell you just a little bit about the company and about Catherine and Nasheela, I'm really excited to have them on the episode today. Whole Leader is all about practical use of hard won wisdom. Their work is centered on a fundamental goal of modern leadership, how to add more value efficiently together to get sustainable results, scale as leaders, and craft lives worth living. In the process, they create a shared experience of recognizing and outsmarting both unnecessary rat race anxiety and some of the sneakiest gender biases that creep into how we give and receive feedback and hopefully have some fun doing it along the way. With decades of experience, Whole Leader knows leadership is learnable and they are relentless in their focus on value creation.
Troy Blaser (01:11):
Catherine Flavin is known to help leaders at all levels reframe how to be successful in the face of systemic challenges. She considers herself not an advice giver, but in the arena with us carrying a lot of tools. When leaders tell her how they experience something, Catherine offers a seasoned view on what is happening, what is normal, and what it might or might not be about. In the process, she can be excellent company on a windy and sometimes absurd journey. She's had a peer say, she's like Luna Lovegood if you're familiar with Harry Potter, if you're a fan of Harry Potter. Nasheela O'Dowd, as the firm's global Head of Leadership Development and CRM brings the wisdom and ways she gained from years on Wall Street with a results focus and kindness that enables clients to execute exceptional programs with less stress. She's deeply aware of what clients and leaders need to do and deliver internally, and how to set up feedback processes and programs in ways that create and elevate, not destroy, nor deplete the drive to produce and grow together. She chooses to be at Whole Leader because of the teamwork that the firm not only advances, but lives day to day. Catherine and Nasheela, welcome to Simply Feedback. It's so great to have you with us.
Nasheela O'Dowd (02:26):
Thanks, Troy. It's great to be here.
Catherine Flavin (02:28):
Troy, it is an absolute delight.
Troy Blaser (02:30):
It is good to have you with us. This is going to be interesting. So most of the time, I should say we've never done an episode yet where we've had two guests on together. So I'm looking forward to this conversation, with you guys. I think it's going to be very interesting. It's been a lot of fun, we've worked together on a project here over the last few months. It's been great to get better acquainted and to get going on this project. I wonder, as we get started, one of my favorite things to ask our guests is, if we could have each of you maybe tell us about a time that somebody gave you feedback, and maybe it had a significant impact on your life, or it marked a turning point in your career. And maybe Catherine, could we start with you? Is there a story that you could share with us?
Catherine Flavin (03:15):
So that question is such a good one, and for some folks it might take you a minute or two. I can go back about a week, and then I can go back about 30 years and give you like moment to moment recollection of these times that someone asked me a question or gave me feedback that shifted the way I think about how I show up. And in this case, I actually put myself through, or I should say Nasheela put me through the strength calibration. And then I shared it with the full team of coaches who are using it with the clients. So, in training them, we actually used my real feedback from them in order to kind of get them ready for the process. And part of that for me was, as a leader saying, if we're going to ask our clients to be that vulnerable with us, if I can do that and model it with my team, and, you know, being skilled at this and understanding it, it was still a deeply profound and stunning experience to get that kind of feedback. And Nasheela knows I went to crazy town for like an hour and then came back and the team really helped me to process it. And I fundamentally believe everybody needs somebody in the balcony if you're in the play of your work life.
Troy Blaser (04:32):
Yeah. That can be quite, I think for a lot of people it can be stressful to receive feedback and where you're saying, okay, I'm going to lead the way and do this exercise myself with the team that I'm going to be working with could even add to the stress. But it sounds like you worked through that and it ended up being quite beneficial. And as you say, profound.
Catherine Flavin (04:54):
It's interesting because at most of the time when we say to a leader, we're going to get you some feedback, they brace as if they're prepared to be punched in the stomach. Right? Like, they just look like they all want to puke. And, that is not from an EQ perspective, generally speaking, when you have a revulsion to something, you don't want to step toward it. So the instrument is designed, I know the design instrument, so I know it's going to be a valuable experience having built it with the team, and it's still deeply, fundamentally vulnerable. And the hardest part of it is that there is vulnerability in kind of owning your strengths and accomplishments, particularly as a female, right? There's this thing called agentic female bias. There's, you know, we all get communal bonus points when we do stuff for the team, but actually standing in the authority of like, yeah, we are building this, the firm's in its fifth year, we are doing really amazing things together, and there's this stuff that is, kind of either what other people need or what I can do better at, or maybe I can rely on Nasheela for. And so that team dynamic of the feedback is what makes it so powerful to me.
Troy Blaser (06:09):
I think that's fantastic. I was going to ask, and maybe you just answered it, but you can tell me, having done the experience yourself, does that change how you led and facilitated the experience for others?
Catherine Flavin (06:22):
Nasheela, what do you think of that?
Nasheela O'Dowd (06:24):
I think that Catherine going through it had the natural experience that a lot of our clients have, right? They don't know what to expect. They go in, they have a moment of immediate reaction, maybe it's hope and joy because they're surprised by things that they hear that they didn't know that they were good at. Or maybe there's some things that come up in terms of requests that people make that you think you're already doing, right? So that reaction is quite normal. But the difference is in the way that Catherine's designed the strength calibration, the shift is so quickly towards a future focus, that it becomes about what am I good at? How do I leverage those things going forward to deliver results and also operate as my best self? And at the same time, how do I take what I know people need from me and make sure that I'm deploying my strengths in ways that make sense to give them what they need. So everything about the instrument is future focused. So even if you have a difficult first reaction, and I would say that most of our clients don't have a difficult first reaction, or at least one that lasts very long because it is such an uplifting tool. Even if you have that moment, we so quickly shift you into being the best version of yourself going forward, not by changing who you are inherently, but by making sure you get really clear on what you're very, very good at and what's unique about you.
Troy Blaser (07:58):
That is fantastic. Yeah.
Catherine Flavin (08:01):
And I, can I add in the context of this particular team at this particular moment in the organization's growth history, right? So one of the most dangerous things we can do is go without feedback, because we developed stories in our own head. So the reason the firm is called Whole Leader comes from a conversation with a private equity exec when I sort of said, Hey, why are you hiring us? Right? Over and over again, like, help me understand where the value is. And his response was, anybody can tell me why not to do a deal. Right? Of all of the, you know, kind of smart people we have on our team, anybody who can gets to ask 110 questions and due diligence can come back with a bunch of reasons why not to do something. And he said, the work in deciding where we invest our resources and what we do is in typically understanding the assets of the company and in understanding where the opportunity is in the company.
Catherine Flavin (08:56):
And for us, it's, he said, that's what you do for us, right? So you, anybody can come to tell me this guy's annoying, and you can say, yeah, he's annoying in this particular context, in this particular way. He is also brilliant in these eight other contexts. And in this one piece, if you can get him to behave the way he does in a different context, if we can move him that way, he'll shift the way he behaves with his peers to be similar to how he behaves with his clients or something. But it is the work of getting the whole picture of the whole person across to them. And often the work is actually on the positive side. Like where are the assets? Like, all of us can tell you what's wrong with anybody, but what's strong with them is in my, you know, 25 years of this, that's where the work is because we are nowhere near as strengths focused as we think we are. And we also need to be understanding where the humanity shortcomings, mismatches, you know, kind of, I'm going to poke myself in the eye sort of things. So we can help each other get out of our own way or grow in relationship.
Troy Blaser (10:04):
That's cool. I appreciate that. It's interesting to think about, I think Whole Leader is an interesting name for the company, and it does sort of make you think about, okay, well what are they getting at? Why are they called Whole Leader? And I think you just explained it really well.
Catherine Flavin (10:19):
Just want to say two other things. One is that, so you get the, like there's no perfect people, no perfect deals kind of mindset. So you got to see the whole, the other part is we need to be able to appeal to the whole population of talent, right. More inclusive, and we particularly, post-COVID, we need a version of leadership that is not outright insane. Right. So, so much of the assumptions of leadership are rat race, you know, kind of busyness, look important, whether you're actually adding any value or not, like, you know, there's too much math to do there. But so we feed this kind of anxious demon rat race in a lot of ways, and that appeals to a very small percentage of humans. And so if we can broaden sort of the notion of what it takes to lead and have it be data informed and kind of elegantly simpler in terms of how you learn it, because it is learnable. And, you know, this idea of it doesn't have to be super complicated and it can appeal to a more diverse group of people who are in many ways, leaders who I think are worth following, who have been underestimated or who don't find, you know, kind of dominant versions of leadership that compelling. So we're trying to broaden that and appeal to the whole sector of eligible talent and address this crisis of leadership.
Troy Blaser (11:40):
That's awesome. I love it. Thank you. We've talked about, and Catherine, you've mentioned the strength calibration instrument a few different times. That's something that LearningBridge has been helping you with. Nasheela, can you tell us a little bit more about the strength calibration and, and what it is and how you use it with your clients?
Nasheela O'Dowd (11:58):
Sure. So our strength calibration was actually designed by Catherine and all of her infinite wisdom. And when we think about the strength calibration, this is the first tool that we use to really shift the mindset of our clients. So when we think about traditional coaching or traditional assessments, you know, going back over the last 20 years, it was always sort of the same formula. Here's what you do really well, here's what you don't do well. If you work on fixing it, then you'll be the best leader you can be. And what we've realized over time is that really, the best leader that you can be is someone who knows where you add value, knows what your unique strengths are, and is aware of when and where and how to deploy them effectively. And when we look at what derails people, it's often the overuse of their strengths or using their strengths in the wrong place.
Nasheela O'Dowd (12:51):
So if you get really clear on your strengths and you get really clear on how you add value to your colleagues, that's how you can have the best impact as a leader, as a team member, as a project leader, whatever your role might be, but getting clear on what you're good at and how best to deploy that. On the flip side, I will say, as a manager, having managed a number of teams, there is an onus on us to get to know what the strengths are of our people. And if we know what their strengths are, then as we're thinking about staffing, we're thinking about goals, we're thinking about where we're heading strategically. We know how to deploy our people in a way that plays not only to their strengths and helps develop them in terms of getting them more savvy about how to use their strengths, but also allows us to run our teams with efficiency because everyone's doing what they're best at and no one's in each other's lanes.
Nasheela O'Dowd (13:51):
You're not fighting for turf. Everyone has clear roles and we're playing to what people are good at. And so when I think about the strength calibration, the whole point of the strength calibration is that first conversation, where do I add the most value to my teams? What do they most need from me? When do I deploy my strengths to the teams that they find it beneficial? And when am I deploying my strengths in the wrong way? And when I use my strengths effectively, what is the result for the team? So that's what we try to do with the strength calibration. It is very much future focused and very much focused on knowing what we're good at.
Troy Blaser (14:30):
As you're describing that, I keep coming back to that old saying of, you know, if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And what you're saying is that's great, when there's really a nail there, please come and use your hammer, Troy, but also learn which things are not nails. You know, you've got this great strength in this hammer, but use it when it's appropriate, but also learn when it's not needed. And there may be someone else on the team who's got a different tool that would work better, a different strength that would work better in that situation.
Nasheela O'Dowd (14:57):
That's right. And the other thing that I've learned over the years, and I've managed a number of teams, and I think back to the way we traditionally used to give year-end feedback, right? You'd sit down with someone, you'd talk about their results, they'd have filled out a self-evaluation. And what I always found repeatedly is when I would start my conversations with my team, and I would start with, what have you accomplished this year and what are you the most proud of and why? And then we would transition it to what are the things we're seeing you do that are allowing you to achieve those results that you're the most proud of? And they would never write anything down. And then you would get to the piece around where did things not go well, if you had a do-over, what would you do over, what did you learn about how you might operate differently if you had a do-over?
Nasheela O'Dowd (15:47):
And they would write all of that stuff down. So the conversation that we would have is, I would bring them back to, you wrote down all of the stuff that you're going to think about trying differently, but you didn't at all write down anything that we started our conversation with and spent 75% of our conversation with, tell me why. And they would say to me, well, I already know what I'm good at. And so the challenge that I would bring them to at the end of the conversation is, if you already know what you're good at, when we look towards the next 12 months, how are you going to deploy those things to continue to build on your successes? And we would often have to revisit what those things were because they hadn't written them down. So it was just that quick overlook and breeze through all these things that have made you successful and not figuring out how can I leverage those for future successes.
Troy Blaser (16:41):
Catherine, I get to see you on video during this recording, and you're very animated, like you're loving what you're hearing. But is there anything else you wanted to add to that?
Catherine Flavin (16:50):
I just, I'm almost, for the listeners, I am almost dancing over here with you know, like amens and like punctuation forNasheela. And one of the things that is so important about this strength calibration, right? So we use calibration like, Hey, how's it going? Let's measure this, too much, too little, just right sort of a thing. She has described a couple things, people who come in without having written anything down about what they accomplished, right? There is gender bias that I mentioned before around, you know, agentic females, we don't, we just don't like them. And this communal bias and domestic load and this overall sense of we're not doing enough, right? So just kind of forcing people to dwell in what they're actually accomplishing and how, this instrument kind of does that. And I use the word force with a lot of love, right?
Catherine Flavin (17:40):
But the idea of could you please just sit and take a tiny dropper full of nourishment about when you are doing something right, what drives that? Right? So, that part of it, the gender bias, the, all the ways in which our brains have negative brain bias, like not enough, you know, blah, blah, blah, Nasheela's example of saying, Hey, I'm going to try all these different things, or I know these are all the things I don't know yet, right. That, you can feel in that story, the anxiety, right? And so in a wellbeing perspective, anxiety kind of dysfunctionally is overestimation of danger and underestimation of capacity. So if you want to drive engagement, like Troy, I'm sure you see this, in most of the employee surveys I've seen over the last 20 years, strength deployment is a top predictor of engagement. It would not predict engagement if there were not massive variants in it, right?
Catherine Flavin (18:33):
So, you know, it just means some people do it really well, some people don't. So every single human on the phone or on the line or on the whatever, if you get a little bit better at being strength-based, you will be more inclusive. You will be kind of more realistic in what you have actually accomplished, and you are more likely to reduce anxiety, depression, those kinds of things by actually seeing people and what they're able to do. And it promotes leaning into the next challenge, right? But you have to be able to put your foot on strengths and you have to understand where they serve you and where they don't. And, you know, Nasheela tells me all the time, enough of that one, I would like you to pull on the social intelligence one, not the curiosity one cap. It's like, okay, thank you. And you need a language for that. The last piece I'll say is, the only quantitative measures on this survey, or this instrument, right? Are relationally based.
Troy Blaser (19:32):
Catherine Flavin (19:33):
Right. How would you rate the overall quality of your working relationship with Catherine? Right? Because being able to give and receive feedback, requests, right? A,ppreciation investments, that's how these relationships get built and how the teams get built and how we're able to be strategically busy, adding value together, from our spectacular zone of awesomeness and learning and growing from other people's strengths along the way.
Troy Blaser (20:04):
I love it. So you guys have had opportunities over the years to work with a wide variety of organizations. Are there common challenges or difficulties that you see across those organizations where you think, if I could wave a magic wand, I would fix this issue for everyone? Do you have thoughts about that?
Catherine Flavin (20:23):
Nasheela, rock, paper, scissors.
Nasheela O'Dowd (20:29):
It's such a great question. And I think it comes down to what we've been talking about. If people spent more time hunting the good and identifying people's unique strengths and unique attributes, and they built their relationships on seeing the whole, they will get, the results will follow. If you have people who believe their managers know me and understand me and appreciate me, those are the people that are going to work tirelessly to get you the results that you're looking for. But if you think your job as a manager is only to course-correct people, or only to manage things that aren't going well and make sure they get fixed, you'll never build the loyalty and engagement that you need to deliver results and have a highly engaged, motivated workforce. So my magic wish would be slow down, get to know the person, the whole person, and really understand what's unique and what are their assets.
Troy Blaser (21:34):
I liked you said, "hunt for the good" and I think, boy, that is a great summary of, because it's not always apparent. So there's some work to be done, there's some hunting to be done to find that good. And, but that's where I think all of us as employees, as managers, want to live in those strengths, in the good, in being future focused instead of that constant course correction that sometimes can happen in a manager relationship.
Catherine Flavin (22:03):
Just to cite that one, that "hunt the good" phrase is a military phrase. So it is not a nice person phrase, like it sounds like a nice person phrase. But it comes from, I think it's Seligman's research, but it's a resilience thing. When you look at sort of people who survive P.O.W. camps and that kind of thing, they're not the deludedly optimistic people, right? Who are saying, we are definitely going to be home by the holidays. They're the ones who confront the brutal reality and open up the possibility for better, but who notice, right, they notice the good moments of the day. So it might be a Victor Frankl, right? The guard didn't beat me today, or I got to see the sunset, or I got an extra piece of bread. Right? That's the "hunt the good" mentality.
Catherine Flavin (22:46):
And so when, if you look at Nasheela's example, right? When people are giving feedback, a lot of times they are, A) they feel a ton of pressure as managers and they feel like they've got to get it out. It's almost like you're going to give somebody a flu shot and they're not going to want it, right? So that bracing, we anticipate, we go home, we practice. So like if there were one thing I would ask for, it's like, don't spend your energy trying to script out the whole conversation and justify your argument. Get really, really clear about what you observed, right? The actual observable behavior, not the crazy judgment. So where a lot of the bias comes in, you know, our phrases like she has sharp elbows or he's too passionate, right? She is like a driven, kind of results focused female leader.
Catherine Flavin (23:38):
He is a creative, Hispanic leader. It's like, okay, none of those things are helpful. Your brain may have leapt, jumped to some kind of conclusion, but if you say, Hey, Sarah, do you know that you kind of used directive statements 9 out of 10 times. And I would love for you to pause and listen and just ask a question. Did I get that right. Right? So in that, it's like, it would delight me if, right? But it's an observational behavioral thing. And by, so if you prepare that and then you prepare the question like A) do you know you're doing that? And what impact do you think, does it have the impact that you want to have? Are you getting the response that you want? Does that feel effective to you? Right. That simplifies feedback, but it forces, it means we have to be mindful enough to slow down and go, wait, my brain is drawing a judgment. I am agitated or triggered emotionally by this, but what actually was the activating event that is objective, observable behavior? And when you have observation coupled with kind curiosity, you have the beginning of a coachable moment.
Troy Blaser (24:54):
I like that. That's fantastic. We started our conversation and I, kind of, we heard from Catherine about a time when she received some feedback, but Nasheela, I wanted to come back and check with you to see, is there a story or a moment in your life when you received feedback that marked a turning point for you? Whether it's the kind of feedback we've been talking about or that flu shot style feedback like brace yourself because it's coming, the jab in the arm. Is there a story that you could share with us?
Nasheela O'Dowd (25:23):
There are many stories that have changed my, many times that I've gotten feedback, sometimes for the good and some for the bad that have changed my life. But I think about two very different experiences. One was where I was working for a major bank who was staffing up to build backup operating facilities outside of New York. So this was sort of after September 11th, you know, fed white papers requiring backup operating facilities. And I was covering the IT organization there and the IT leader had moved over to lead this massive project to open all these new backup operating facilities. And she came to me and she said, I want you to take this job running the learning and development side of this, coaching our managers on what roles should go, how they should go. And I looked at her, I was like, I don't know why you would want me to do this. I don't have experience doing this. I, sure I can figure out the, the learning and development once you've hired the people, but I've never, you know, selected what people should go for what jobs or coach managers on how to decide which jobs. And she looked at me and she said, I've worked with you for four years. At what point are you going to realize you have arrived?
Nasheela O'Dowd (26:42):
And you have to stop having a track record on every single thing before you agree to do a similar project, in that sometimes you have skills and talents that will automatically transfer over and will enable you to be successful. And she went through what her experience had been in this IT capacity where I was advising her as her learning advisor, running IT teams, and talked about how she needed those things from me. Those, the way that I gave her advice, the things that I pointed out, the questions that I raised, how that's what she needed to staff this project so that she had the right people around her thinking about the right things. And so for me, that was very much a situation where I just didn't realize that I had already demonstrated a capability because it wasn't, you know, sort of a line item task list of deliverables.
Nasheela O'Dowd (27:43):
So that was an incredibly pivotal moment for me. And I will say probably one of the most meaningful experiences in my career. On the flip side, and Catherine knows this, I had a manager at a different financial services firm who didn't get me and who didn't try to understand me. And I had never worked with a manager who didn't get me. And even though I was incredibly results focused, I just wasn't clicking with this particular leader in a way that I was used to clicking. Now, certainly some of that was probably on me and some of that wasn't. But I remember going into this person's office, and it was already a difficult relationship for me. I knew she respected my work, but I also got the feeling that she didn't like me and I didn't fit the mold of what she was looking for. And she said to me, you know, I've been thinking a lot about what you're doing here and I think that you're doing really good work and you're focused on the right things. But have you ever thought about a keratin treatment to straighten your hair so that it's not as curly? And you look older and you look more professional when you're interacting with the senior leaders.
Catherine Flavin (28:55):
Nasheela, can you maybe say a little bit about your identity?
Nasheela O'Dowd (29:00):
Sure. So I am a South Asian woman with, you know, typical brown skin and I have very thick brown hair that is incredibly curly. And on humid New York days, it might be frizzy and on, you know, but the only way it's going to be poker straight is if I go and I get it blown out or I get it, you know, get it treated. But it was in the moment she had taken this point of you're doing a good job, you're making, you're driving the organization where we need to go, which could have been a moment where we could have talked about, well, what's working and how can I deploy that in the future? And turned it into a very personal comment about my hair. And so the long-term damage was she didn't get me, we weren't focused on the right things. It didn't matter that I was delivering results. And more than anything, I didn't trust that she had my wellbeing at heart. And I didn't trust that she was always going to be fighting for the right things for me.
Troy Blaser (30:05):
It's such a stark contrast between those managers that get you, in their first story, she knew things about you that you didn't realize about yourself. Right. She could see things that you hadn't yet come to understand about yourself. And, of course the flip side where the manager just doesn't understand and that leads to lack of trust, like you said, those are really great examples. Both positive and negative.
Catherine Flavin (30:31):
They are also really poignant examples of how pernicious, sneaky, and just soul-sucking gender bias can be. And how, if you can outsmart it, how powerful you can be. So if I go with the soul-sucking one, the leader who gave Nasheela the keratin treatment hair, you know, feedback. This was mid two thousands, Nasheela, right?
Nasheela O'Dowd (30:55):
Catherine Flavin (30:55):
So she was also like a shoulder pad wearing, short-haired, kind of older female who had been brought up in a very fiercely like androgynous, not in a cool way culture where being overly feminine was negative. Right. Being female is negative. So I think in some ways her own internalized bias around, you know, kind of whether it's a, you don't look like what a leader's supposed to look like, right? Is, like her brain is jumping to the leadership is male, male looks like this, like none of this has happened consciously.
Catherine Flavin (31:33):
And she has unfortunately not really done the work to figure that out. And if you don't do the work to figure out people's biases, bias is so pernicious and common. So these are two female leaders, right, in conversation kind of, girl-on-girl bias violence. Right. And it's because we hold the same biases irrespective of who we are. They just are in us. So we, that part is normal. It's how you deal with them that matters. So, so this, Nasheela's saying no thank you and ultimately not staying in that relationship was how Nasheela handled that. And that's how I think, if that's where you are, that makes a lot of sense. In the previous case, the woman actually outsmarted the performance versus potential bias. Like the people will tell you, you know, men get evaluated on performance and potential.
Catherine Flavin (32:23):
What Nasheela was saying, is I'm only as good as my last, you know, like box checking, right? So she had internalized that and her boss was like, no, I am evaluating you on performance and potential. Come with me. Right? And that, that's the kind of boss you want to be. And so, you know, that kind of contrast, the safest way to do that is to live in the actual value results they deliver. And, you know, kind of help me understand how you got them, and help, help me explain to you where your value is and to understand the strengths that drive them in the context of what the team needs. Because her boss also said, I need you to help me. Thank you. Ask good questions of me. And value for Nasheela doesn't have to be super effortful. She asked really good questions because she has, you know, seen everything.
Troy Blaser (33:18):
Yeah. Yeah.
Catherine Flavin (33:19):
So it just, it's an interesting combo and why the instrument, like when it's a deeply simple instrument, like I think my report is, I don't know, less than 10 pages, right? But, but the most common feedback we get after people receive one is I feel known. Like, I feel seen. And it's not just seen in where you're, I'm filtering through expletives like where you're a bleep, right? But where you are really powerfully impacting good things, and we need to be able to hold all of it in order for somebody to grow as a leader.
Troy Blaser (34:00):
I love that. That is, thank you for that quick little analysis too of those two stories from Nasheela. Catherine and Nasheela, I have loved our conversation today. It's been fantastic. If people want to know more, if they want to continue the conversation with you, are you open to that?
Nasheela O'Dowd (34:18):
Absolutely. You know, Troy, we are always seeking people who are on the same mission as us, right? You want to outsmart the rat race, you want to deliver results, but you also want to recognize the humanity in people. And so if you are a leader or an organization that really wants to get the best out of your people, but wants to do it in a way that is humane and recognizes who people are, give us a call. We'd love to partner with you. To get more information they can visit the website and contact us through there. And certainly Catherine and I are also on LinkedIn, so you know, people can reach out directly through there as well.
Troy Blaser (35:00):
I love it. It's been fascinating conversation today. Thank you so much for your time, both of you. It's been great to have you on today,
Catherine Flavin (35:06):
Troy, thank you. Our relationship goes way back, right? So we appreciate you guys as a trusted and reliable partner and the way that you kind of work with us as we're trying to do things that are outside of the box a little bit. So really, really grateful to you. And I think this notion of, you know, who are we? What's fascinating to me is I think of Whole Leader at our best as the team. So if you look at anything like, I hope people will look at the extraordinary folks who make up our team as a women-owned business and you know, kind of people who are so great, you can't help but grow with them. And also a community of people who at the end of the day believe, you know, if COVID taught us anything, we can and must bend history. And I don't believe in the inevitability of progress in any way. So this notion of if we're going to do better, we're going to do better together, kind of one choice, one moment at a time, and the intention behind it and the mindfulness behind it. And in our work, we try really hard to be good company on that crazy, beautiful, extraordinary and absurd journey called leadership.
Troy Blaser (36:17):
Fantastic. Thank you so much, Troy.
Nasheela O'Dowd (36:19):
Thanks so much for having us.
Catherine Flavin (36:20):
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.