Human to Human: Transformative Leadership Conversations - Featuring Carly Anderson


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This episode explores how “Human to Human” conversations can help leaders bring the best out of people to deliver outstanding results.

The special guest is Carly Anderson, an Australian-American leadership and executive coach. Carly began training as a coach in 1998 and became a Master Certified Coach in 2004 by the International Coaching Federation, the leading coach credentialing body. Since then, Carly has mentored hundreds of coaches, becoming one of the most authentic voices for leadership development.

Leading people through change requires a carefully organized process. However, leveraging people’s potential and boosting motivation entails integrating a consultative-training approach with honest, kind, authentic conversations.

Human-to-Human conversations mean creating space where people can be seen, heard, and acknowledged as whole beings. That is where fundamental transformation, actions, and behavioral change occur.

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Welcome to Pity Party Over, the podcast for people teams and organizations seeking practical ideas for results and greater happiness. I'm your host, Stephen Matini, let’s pause, learn, and move on. Pity Party Over is brought to you by Alygn, A L Y G N . company.

Stephen Matini: Hi everyone, I'm Stephen, and welcome to Pity Party Over. This episode will explore how Human to Human conversations can help leaders bring the best out of people to deliver outstanding results.

My special guest is Carly Anderson, an Australian-American leadership and executive coach. Carly began training as a coach in 1998 and became a Master Certified Coach in 2004 by the International Coaching Federation, the leading coach credential body.

Since then. Carly has mentored hundreds of coaches, including myself, becoming one of the most authentic voices for leadership development.

Stephen Matini: The question that I have, the first one for you is this one: I know a bit about you know that you're Australian, and here and there you told me different things about yourself. But I'm curious to know what are the these steps that brought you from the beginning to where you are right now? Like you were born in Australia now you are in the US, so which were the main steps in your, of your development?

Carly Anderson: As always life doesn't happen as a straight line. If you had said to me this little girl born in a very small country town in South Australia would be talking to Stephen who's in Italy from, and I'm in Los well I'm not in Los Angeles but I'm in California, and that you would consider me one of your mentors. I would go, no way that could ever happen!

Yeah, I came from a very middle class, lower class family who none were educated, and, and somehow I was not like them. So I guess that thing was I always had ambition. I didn't know what that ambition was, but I just knew that I had to keep learning.

So from a very young age, I just noticed when I look back now on that person, I was that I was always just a learner. I mean just ... I studied, well, I always I loved history, I loved Mesopotamia. I loved ancient history for some reason, then I love sport, and so I would just practice because I love the act of getting better.

So if I go through my life, that's what drove me to be honest and how I'm here because learning took me to the next place. And also this unknown drive as to I don't belong here and I don't know where I belong and I don't know why I'm not comfortable in my own skin, which for a very long time.

Until my early 30’s, I did not feel I felt something was wrong with me, and I didn't know what. And all of my family were like in the country town and here already I had moved to the city by the age of 19 and that was considered like ... what?

And then I can tell you, I mean from there I got a job in an advertising agency in Adelaide and I went to see “Cats” actually at the Sydney Opera House with one of my girlfriends who was very sophisticated. My first ever trip to Sydney when I was 23. And I was staggered by the beauty of looking from the airplane seeing Sydney for the first time and how green it was. And I came from a place which was very not green.

And then we went to the Opera House and I was stunned by the beauty and I remember Andra, her name, was saying to me on the way home, I don't know and she was a laboratory assistant technician. She said. “I don't know why I'm going back to Adelaide?” Uh and I went, “Oh I don't know why am I going back to Adelaide!”

And so then I asked for a transfer to Sydney with the advertising agency I left without knowing I had a job but I interviewed for the same agency when I got to Sydney and they gave me a job in the media department which I loved, and then I just got promoted because I was a learner and got better and better and eventually ... I left that industry but I wanted to be, I was driven by wanting to learn and I engaged in personal development.

So I did my first personal development course when I was 27 or eight, I've just been fired from my job, and it was perfect timing. They collided where I did this personal development course, which was transformational for me. And so that then led me to wanting to have my own business. So then I had a strategic planning company, had employees, I went from being employed to being an employer.

And then someone said to me, coaching is coming to Australia and bringing the first ever coach training program to Australia, it was 1997, and I think you'd be a great coach. And I said to my peer colleague, I said, “”hat are you talking about? I don't know what you mean." Sports coaching was all I knew. So he said, look, I'll send you the brochure when I get it. Okay.

So four months later send me, sends me the brochure and I was like, okay, so I did it. And short story is I within a year sold my half of the business trans started to be getting involved in coaching, Went to a coach conference coach conference in 1999 in Orlando in Florida and met Michael, didn't do anything but a year later we met at the same conference, but this time I was in Vancouver and I came from Sydney, he came from Philadelphia and this time we were both free at the first time, we were both involved in relationships.

And then we married in 2001 and here I am living for 20 years with the most wonderful human, 21 years married soon and ... that's how I'm here and that's the steps I guess.

Stephen Matini: So coaching really you discovered it early on, like at the very beginning of coaching ... how interesting.

Carly Anderson: Yeah, 1998 was when I encountered it. 1992 was when you know around that time was when it really began. So I was about six years in ... yeah.

Stephen Matini: What coaching had that your previous career did not have?

Carly Anderson: Yes. Well this is good because I had been an employee but now as an employer and I had five employees at the time that I heard about I learned about coaching. And so my company what we did was take the strategy vision and values of large organizations, like banks and insurance companies and others, and translate that into stories, into graphics, into pictures into corporate storytelling before it actually was that.

What I noticed is from the C suite down through the organization we would have great conversations, they would take the information but nothing happened. No change happened. It was just communication and making lots of money but I didn't feel like I was making a difference.

So after about five years of doing this I was going there's something missing and then along comes coaching I was like oh ... okay this is what makes something that you are talking about from a consultative perspective, and takes it into transformation and action and behavior change. That's what was missing until I coaching came along,

Stephen Matini: You learned quite a bit of leadership, and also your own leadership style, and what could work for you or not based on having bosses, and you as a boss.

Carly Anderson: So interesting to how often we get messages in life about things and I guess that's also true with for me about people making people important versus process, because I was very much into the process of learning and getting better, and I never thought about humans along the way until much later in my life really.

And so one of the first things that I noticed is when I was preparing for this with you which I think is a fabulous thing that you're doing here, it's just discussing things about people and get out of the pity party and just think it's wonderful what you're doing.

And so the first thing I thought about was my first boss was a part time job in my small country town where I grew up, and it was a real estate agency that had a small travel agency with it, and I was the receptionist at the time, and I realized he was such a kind, you know when you look back people often say who made a difference in your life?

Well this my first boss, his first name is Paul, I don't even know if he's still alive, I tried to find and I could not find him a number of years ago. Kind, very, very interested in my development from the beginning. He could see I was an introverted, sort of quiet person, and he he was a Rotarian. And so he's said, I think it would be good for you to learn more about people. And so how about you raise money for charity for the rotary club and that will help you just that process.

And he was just this really kind person and he made a difference without him seeing that and helping me in that way, that was hugely important to me. And I didn't realize he was really seeing me as a human being for the first time. That's the first time I ever felt like I was really seen by somebody in my life.

Stephen Matini: There are two words that you use, even in the past, and I have learned them from you. One is when you talk about talk to people from “human to human,” and then I guess maybe the opposite is “process”, which is, you know, when you get more, I guess formulaic? So what is a “human to human” conversation”?

Carly Anderson: What we're having right now.

Stephen Matini: Thank God!

Carly Anderson: Yeah! Because I'm interested in you, you're interested in me, we're interested in how you think feel, act, react ... I mean, I wanted to ask you how come you wanted to live in the United States? You see that's a human, I'm interested in you. I'm not trying to get something from you. I don't care about the act of it. It's like what's important to you about that.

That's me being curious about you as a human being. And when we actually show and demonstrate that we are curious and understanding, wanting to understand or seeking to at least understand a little more about the person that we're engaging with unconsciously we're also saying: you matter.

And that you're important as with when I treat somebody like which I used to, you know, it's like get this done. I want this done by this time. We have to get we've got deadlines. Of course everybody wants results. It's how you go about it. The behavior we all have is a choice, whether we realize it or not, and we're either choosing to make results the way we speak. We're saying you're not important. The result we get out of this is more important.

As with if I say, how do you go about? What, what's making this difficult for you or what do you find enjoyable about this? Okay, so how does that make you more productive or what do you need in order to be more efficient? I'm interested in you as a human being to get the result, and it makes a big difference.

Probably know this Stephen, I can't quote exactly now where it's from. But it was originally the Gallup organization that did a survey that showed that people leave organizations mostly because their direct superior doesn't care, doesn't show they care about them. They only get feedback when they've done something wrong. And by the way that's I'm interested in that. Why do you think they don't give feedback when they're doing things right? I'm really interested in that from your perspective as well.

Stephen Matini: The way that I see it is that some people tend to be more naturally people-oriented, and some people tend to be very task-oriented. We need both. You know, we need both. You need to have an eye on results. You need to have an eye on people. The question is always, can you teach people to be more sensitive to people? Like one of the questions that I received most of the time is that, can you teach empathy?

Carly Anderson: I'm with you. Well, I've noticed observed in myself, first of all, I didn't have empathy and I've developed it and it's definitely something you can develop.

Stephen Matini: You?

Carly Anderson: Yeah. No! I mean, No, I did not have empathy. I mean, for instance, when I was a young manager, I was around 26, in the advertising agency, I worked in if somebody was two or three minutes late who was coming to see me for a meeting from an external supplier, I wouldn't see them. I'm sorry you're late by three minutes. I was like rigid originally to process. And no, I've learned that, I've learned that it actually matters that, you know, and seek to understand people.

Hence, one of the reasons I love coaching is that keeps me honest in my own development, because to me I'm always wanting my behavior on the inside. I want to be a person that appreciates myself and appreciates others. I've learned both are important. And if I've had, I've chosen to develop empathy and I've worked with.

I remember one person I coached who was a medical person who was in charge of a large research and development division inside of a medical devices company, and he was brilliant. He is brilliant. I imagine, I'm not coaching anymore. Brilliant. But the feedback was, this guy doesn't trust anybody else in the team is team to be as good as he is. And so he doesn't give much over two people and he's losing good people. We need him to stop because we think he's brilliant but ...

He and empathy, I'd say to him, “What do you think is going on here for you that you don't trust people?” He goes, “Oh it's not about trust." “Then, what is it?” He says, “Well I just need to get the result done or whatever. I don't care what other people think." “So, just checking, where in your life do you care about people?” He said, “With my son who's disabled.”

And ... so by him actually ... I had no idea. I've been coaching him for a little bit already before this came up. And he realized that he was compartmentalizing his ability, he was so empathetic toward his son, I saw no empathy, no caring in his work environment, and he'd split himself in two.

And once he realized and started to understand that he could in fact maybe be a little more kind, or empathetic two people in the workplace, and maybe that that was something he'd learned how to do really well with his son, it transformed him, and his environment, and his results, and people stayed, and the thing just shifted.

So yes it's not only can be taught but I think sometimes people do already have empathy or caring and part of their life, they've either blocked off, shut out, or forgotten about for whatever reason.

Stephen Matini: On your website, you have so much information that I that I love. There's um, there's one thing that I took you say, “I believe that we all want to be valued and respected for who we are. It's the behaviors and beliefs that we use unconsciously that can stop us from being valued and respected as we want to be.”

Carly Anderson: Yes, exactly. Which is part of a broader statement. My husband and I have a corporation together. Full it's called Full Being, F U L L Being Coaching and our tagline is, “Because who you are makes a difference in what you do.” Coaching the person taking actions is more powerful than merely coaching what actions to take. People have a greater capacity to solve their own problems than they currently employ. And we're dedicated to enhancing, enhancing and strengthening that ability.

Stephen Matini: Statistically lots of leadership development programs fail. Tons and tons of money are spent in leadership development and they fail. Based on your experience, what would you say that are some of the most important elements to pay attention to, to make sure that the program, a leadership development program, when it's deployed, is successful?

Carly Anderson: Group and individual coaching and teamwork, team building and all of that. Yes, it's a multi functioned approach. You have to take it from a just a teaching or training approach alone is minimally ... in fact, there are statistics that show just doing that you're going to get minimal retention of action and behavioral change.

Without some ongoing process to have behavior because habits take a while to change mindset beliefs, attitudes, behaviors all have to be something that you engage with as a process. And so if you don't have a process for doing that and coaching is a process, because you have, it's not a once off session. Like a training session can often be, well, let's go learn about emotional intelligence, let's go learn about empathy.

Well now you got to practice it. So whether you do that in the team coaching, individual coaching, it has to be an ongoing amount of sessions that creates the opportunity for accountability, because when you come back ... I have a coach as well, and I go through cycles of coaching even though I'm 24 years into my sort of developed my coaching.

I still, I love being coached, and I employed two different coaches for two different purposes right now. And it's great, I love the accountability because when I go to my next session, if I've said I'm going to do something ... I like to, I want to know that I'm going to show up and not have, it's not that I'm trying to please my coach, but it's a good accountability for me! So you need ongoing support in order and that's what coaching offers, whether it's team and or individual.

Stephen Matini: Based on your experience. Is there a certain specific formula, combination, or percentage that you would use these two, coaching and training?

Carly Anderson: I've been part of effective corporate programs which have had a two day training or started out first of all with some sort of assessment, especially when you've got smart people, really smart people, you have to give them something that gives them a current ... especially about themselves and about not only their brain but about their emotional intelligence of some kind.

And so when you have an assessment that you can debrief first. Then they go into some training for a couple of days or a half day, a half day or half day, I think half days can be effective. I don't know about any less than that or whether it's being on Zoom for three or four hours is tiring I find, at a time.

So some sort of process where they're getting the information and then next is coaching after that, which is to me maybe the micro learning that takes it into behavioral change versus the information. But I found that when I've been part of those programs, assessment, debrief training, and then coaching, I found those to be, they've been very effective from companies I've worked with.

Stephen Matini: For those companies organizations that are evaluating the opportunity of “human to human” type of leadership development. What would you say? How would you explain to them the value of this approach

Carly Anderson: When you actually engage in this, like we are right now in conversation there's something magical that emerges in ... I mean I feel the energy just talking to you Stephen, and the vibrational excitement. You know, it's like a popcorn, in a good way!

Most people think they know how to listen until they start going through a say a coaching training program and then they realize how much they don't hear. And fundamental, fundamental to anybody is are you really hearing what the person is saying and there's so many levels to listening. I think that's the fundamental training that needs to happen.

If you don't know how to listen, what you're doing is just listening long enough to respond, or react, or have the solution, and so it doesn't actually show that you're actually taking much notice of that person in front of you.

And listening is where you have to, first of all also listen to what you're saying to yourself. Most people are saying things like, I can't get this done, I'm overwhelmed, there's too much to do, I need to get this out the door. And so what they're not hearing is, I'm afraid I'm not going to be good enough, I'm afraid that if I don't get this done, I'll be fired.

So therefore there's so much we say to ourselves that we don't hear, and then there's so much when we can't hear ourselves, we don't hear others as well. So there's so much around listening that can be done. I think training and listening skills is so under valued.

Stephen Matini: This podcast as you know is called Pity Party Over, right. When you're in a funk, essentially, is there anything specific that you do, to get out of it, to pity party over, to move on?

Carly Anderson: Yes, I think it's a fabulous saying. Wes. So choice, choosing, that’s, the number one thing out of a pity party is no matter what's happening, like, Gosh, I'm nearly 60. As much as I'm healthy and all that, I almost died five years ago. Now, there was things outside of my control that happened that meant I ended up having a misdiagnosis for six months, and I had 60 blood tests and still didn't know one new doctor came along within 24 hours we had a prognosis.

I had surgery. I had ... removed that was killing me and treatment, and I'm fine. Now, that process taught me a lot about where I choose to put my attention. And right now five years later, I also have choices about what I put my attention on. So, pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional as they say. Now, whether I go, oh well I've got pain or oh Gosh, I got this diagnosed for six months and almost died. It's like, oh, what can I do?

So I kept going. I kept going, I'm choosing to find an answer. I am choosing to ... and at this point take care of myself in ways physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social. And so my pain level right now is almost zero. And yet a month ago, it was pretty high, in my body. But every moment I choose, I'm choosing to embrace what's happening to me now because that's the power. The moment I think it's all being done to me, then the pity comes in.

Stephen Matini: It's called locus of focus.

Carly Anderson: Ah ...!

Stephen Matini: Yeah, essentially thinking that I'm fully equipped, I have the resources to choose, or someone else has chosen for me. Either the economy or, you know, Covid or whatever, it might be other people. You know, and it's um ... To me what you're saying is freedom, it is really having the freedom of choosing, it is the most incredible thing

Carly Anderson: Yeah, but just to add to that, it is the words we say that matter. So for instance, I had cancer five years ago. I never called it that I said I had a visitor.

Stephen Matini: A visitor!

Carly Anderson: So no one around me who knew about it, could call it that, you had to call it the visitor, how’s the visitor, because that visitor was the mindset, and that's how I could choose. Now. To me, the cancer cells were a result of the tumor that was poisoning my system. So I was lucky that it was stage one and it was very treatable and you know, there was, my body was able to have blood infusions, and my bloody was able to recover within about 6, 8 months. And it was good.

However, consciously choosing the words that we use about our life situation makes a difference, to the pity or not, to the locus of focus ... hands down. If I say every day, I don't sleep because sleep is one of my challenges. Last night I got seven hours of sleep in one without waking up. That hasn't happened in two years, literally. I'm working on it all the time from many different aspects. But if I said, and every day I say to myself, I am having, I'm going in with, I'm giving myself the best opportunity to have the best, most restful sleep versus, oh, I'm not sleeping well and it's affecting me and it's all bad!

It's like the words I used to describe my experience matter and that's the same with our clients when we hear our clients saying, I don't believe this person is able to do the job. Well, okay, then they won’t. Or, I don't trust this person. Well, why not? What would have to change in the way you're viewing them, and the words we use, and how we then frame up our experience determines our experience.

Stephen Matini: This is fun. You know, you're you're so precious. Thank you so much for the for for doing this with me for the time that you gave me.

Carly Anderson: Such a delight. I was so excited to have this opportunity with you. Thank you for inviting me.

Stephen Matini: Thank you for listening to this episode of Pity Party Over. As Carly pointed out, there's so much we say to ourselves that we don't hear, and when we cannot listen to ourselves, we don't hear others. So this episode is an invitation to all of you listening to create the necessary space to pause and listen.

Leading people through change requires a carefully organized process. However, leveraging people's potential and boosting motivation entails, integrating a consultative, teaching and training approach with honest kind, authentic conversations.

“Human to human” conversations mean creating space where people can be seen heard and acknowledged as a whole being. That is where fundamental transformation, actions and behavior change occur.

Everybody wants results. The bottom line is made of profits, savings, outcomes and outputs. All these are good health indicators for an organization. The choice though is between focusing on results alone, or taking the time to listen to people to create relationships that deliver outstanding results.

If you're interested in developing human to human conversations, you can contact me via email, LinkedIn or Twitter or sign up for a 60 minute complimentary Live Session. Please check the episode's notes for this information.

If you enjoy this content, please subscribe to the Pity Party Over podcast available on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts, Spotify and many podcast platforms and apps.

I also invite you to browse our leadership and managerial development programs at ALYGN. Alygn is spelled A L Y G N . company.

Be happy be well and until we connect again, thank you for listening.

19 episodes