Did you know there is a parallel link between human psychology and animal behaviour? Here to break it down for us is this week’s special guest Beth Anstandig who will be discussing the animal within and awakening our natural leadership.
Beth is a licensed psychotherapist, lifelong cowgirl and author with over 25 years of experience working with human herds offering leadership, corporate culture and well-being programs through The Circle Up Experience. Get ready for a truly fascinating discussion as Beth unleashes our mammal instincts, explains the heart of psychological safety, explores supportive leadership and how to embrace collaboration in a remote world and much more. Key points throughout the discussion include:
– An introduction to Beth Anstandig.
– Transforming a team into a community.
– Activating autopilot and ignoring our body’s needs.
– Is psychological needs the same as physical needs?
– Overcoming conflict at work.
– The culture of you and how to avoid wasted energy.
– Questioning your purpose and the self-care crisis.
– How to prevent group communication gaps.
– Unlocking the power of self-awareness.
– The impact of lack of workplace humanity and connection.
– An introduction to the thought partnership: how to ignite collaboration.
– The dangers of assumptions in the workplace.
– Removing the shame from role modeling and teaching in the workplace.
– Leadership: how can we lead ourselves effectively?
– What Happier at Work means to Beth.
THE LISTENERS SAY:
Do you have any feedback or thoughts on this discussion? If so, please connect with Aoife via the links below and let her know. Aoife would love to hear from you!
The Human Herd: Awakening Our Natural Leadership by Beth Anstandig
Connect with Beth Anstandig:
Connect with Happier at Work host Aoife O’Brien:
Aoife O’Brien, Beth Anstandig
Aoife O’Brien 00:00
Are you looking to improve employee engagement and retention? Do you struggle with decisions on who to hire or who to promote? I have an amazing opportunity for forward-thinking, purpose-led, people-first organisation to work with me on the first pilot Happier at Work program for corporates. The program is entirely science-backed and you will have tangible outcomes in relation to employee engagement, retention, performance and productivity. The program is aimed at people leaders responsible for hiring and promotion decisions. If this sounds like you, please get in touch at Aoife@ happieratwork.ie. That’s A O I F E @ happieratwork.ie. You’re listening to the happier work podcast. I’m your host Aoife O’Brien This is the podcast for leaders who put people first, the podcast covers four broad themes, engagement and belonging, performance and productivity, leadership, equity, and the future of work. Everything to do with the happier at work podcast relates to employee retention, you can find out more at Happieratwork.ie.
Beth Anstandig 01:11
We do need to feel purposeful and we do need to have meaning and we need to feel like we’re of service. So if we’re having we’re like putting all of our employees in this position where they don’t get to have that that lifeforce. There’s no spark, and they’re like sleepwalking.
Aoife O’Brien 01:28
Hello, and welcome to this week’s episode of the Happier at Work podcast. My guest today is Beth Anstanding and for more than 25 years, licensed psychotherapist and lifelong cowgirl Beth has worked with human herds, providing leadership, corporate culture and wellbeing programs, through the circle of experience. She has trained 1000s of CEOs, managers and teams from companies, universities and nonprofits, helping them to tap into their natural leadership to live, lead and work with genuine connection. She is the author of the human herd awakening our natural leadership, which was published a couple of months ago, and she’s been featured in global media, including BBC World Service, PBS, and Forbes. Beth lives on her California ranch with her family and an expanding community of animal herds. Beth and I have a really fascinating discussion all about tapping into our needs as an individual as a group in the workplace and addressing issues around psychological safety as well. As always, I will do a synopsis at the end, so do stay tuned for that where I pick out some of the key points from our conversation. And I’d love if you could get involved in that conversation on social media, either on LinkedIn, feel free to connect with me follow me over there, or on Instagram @happierworkdotie, which is the same as the website. Beth, you are so welcome to the happier at work podcast, I’m delighted to have you as my guest today. Do you want to give people a little bit of flavour about your background and how you got into doing what you’re doing today?
Beth Anstandig 03:07
Sure. Thank you so much for having me. It’s really exciting to be here and to talk with you. I have such a circuitous path that actually got out ahead of me and I didn’t, I didn’t intend to be doing what I’m doing. But I found myself here, just in a lifelong journey of trying to understand the very confusing nature of humans and, and, you know, formal education and training and professional career as a therapist. And I’ve been, I’ve been doing I did clinical work as a therapist and was teaching for many years. And alongside that work, I was also my whole life pursuing relationships and experiences with my animals, particularly my dogs and horses and really built a whole life with them and around them. And, and I pursued a lot of my own education and mentorship in that world. I have Border Collies, I do sheep herding with them. And I’ve had horses for a very long time, and just they’ve been central to my life. So many of my lessons about relationships and about myself, came through that, that world through the end, I looked to mentors and experiences, who would help me look at my own role as a partner to my animals. And so those two paths ran side by side and I think it’s life long paths where you don’t know they’re gonna meet. You know, you can’t see that they’re headed in that direction for a long time, but they collided about 10 years ago. I knew that I was interested in equine therapy. But what I didn’t know was how that it needed to break out of the Therapy molded. And that the I wanted to reach people in a broader way and that there are, there was a lot about the mental health model that was going to be constructing for me. And so I did start working with clients with my animals and, and then I was asked to do a workgroup, a team with my horses. And it was like, something happened in that experience that changed me and changed the way that I looked at working with people. I always believed in the power of groups. But I didn’t realise just how much therealiseace was needing this kind of work. And so I dove into the deep end, and started this journey of and and it’s just really just kind of blown up in a beautiful way from there.
Aoife O’Brien 05:56
Yeah, yeah. Um, what happened during that session, that first session that you tried with kind of a work group?
Beth Anstandig 06:02
Well, I realised that people had realisedlked about their relationships. I realised that I saw peoplrealisedng to get in touch with themselves. You know, the horses, are these incredible leadership coaches, and they don’t want to do anything with us, unless we’re showing up very whole, and authentically who we are. And they just won’t follow on stable leadership, they won’t join unstable leadership and our instability. It may be like a whole life problem where we just can’t get stable in our whole lives. But oftentimes, it’s just a moment. And it’s when we’re confused inside or our ideas are conflicting with our feelings are there’s something going on inside of us that we’re not aware of that we we have to clear up and, and become congruent. And when that’s happening there, they give us feedback, and show us that they’re confused. And so what I saw was a lot of high level leaders in states of confusion. And I saw the horses showing them that, and it did not take much coaching for that to clear up. And then I saw the people change. And I saw the horses change. And then I saw a new kind of group emerge, which was like, oh, so I’m, I am showing up at work. I don’t even know I’m not okay, no one knows I’m not okay. I feel alone and isolated. And we’re just going about our tactical business. But meanwhile, the culture below the surface, our own leadership, and the way we’re doing our relationships, is muddy and cloudy and murky. And then when pressure enters our system, in whatever way it becomes turbulent. And that cloudiness actually gets stormy. And so I realised, you know, and Irealisedind working with groups that aren’t workplace teams, but I did realise there was a huge realiser a deeper kind of work. Yeah, for people as leaders to really be developing themselves as whole beings, and in teams to be looking at a team as a community instead of a team. And so, you know, I that was really the the aha moment with that it was I just watched all the lights come on. And I watched people who looked a little robotic, and kind of on autopilot with themselves and each other. I watched them come to life. And it was an incredibly moving experience for me. And I realised there was no wayrealisedn’t do that work without the animals. Yeah. And there was it because it was so fast. And honest and gentle. But but direct. Yeah, the feedback they’re getting, and the change was so fast.
Aoife O’Brien 09:04
Yeah. Yeah. Wow. It’s incredible story. So you mentioned about people being kind of a bit robotic, and on autopilot, what are the other issues that you see? Or that you have seen with the leaders that you’ve worked with that, you know, how are they showing up? And is it that they’re not showing up kind of as human in the workplace? They’re kind of checking themselves at the door, essentially, is that what? Yeah,
Beth Anstandig 09:30
there we check our animal body at the door and a lot of places in our lives. And what that means is that our body is sending us all these signals about what’s happening within and around us, and we’re ignoring them. And it’s sending us signals about pressure. And it’s trying to tell us to make little adjustments so that we can be in a state of ease and we can conserve energy. And I learned this from the animals I’m not making this up. So this is another way the animals Live, this is mammal life. And we check that at the door because we’re very distracted by our thinking and our talking. And, and we get pulled into tactical behaviors, doing things and relating, and then we’re really checked out from our own bodies. So what happens is, like, the very most basic thing I can say about it is that we don’t hear our own needs. And therefore we don’t attend to them, or we hear them. And we debate or negotiate with our own needs, and, and make a decision not to meet those needs. So if we do that, then we’re not fully present. So a mammal that’s not meeting their own needs is not able to really be present, because you’re, you’re impaired. And so what that looks like is we’re carrying these pressures around, which become tensions, stresses. And then they kind of go into a traumatic state, where we either we get flooded and overwhelmed, and we either blow up and go after others, implode and go after ourselves, start attacking ourselves, or we go numb. And so that would be the autopilot version, which we kind of go into this state of numbness because we’re carrying so much pressure that our system will just dull the sensitivity. And in doing so, it kills our creativity that kills our empathy system, we’re really less aware of what’s going on around us. So we can’t, we’re less responsive. And so there’s huge impact there. And you can and that’s really where you if you’re not working on and maintaining ease, you were moving toward dis ease, which then becomes disease. And so that’s kind of the trajectory of mental health problems. Because we end up you know, a mammal that gets flooded all the time is carrying around a lot of stress injury to your body.
Aoife O’Brien 12:17
Yeah. And back to when you’re talking about needs. So this is something I talk about a lot on on the podcast, and I’m referring to psychological needs and people’s. We have three basic psychological needs that needs to be met. Are you talking specifically about physical needs? Are they emotional, psychological needs or kind of all needs,?
Beth Anstandig 12:40
Well psychological needs are physical needs, because if we don’t feel psychologically safe, we’re having a biological experience about Okay. And so it’s hard to separate the two. But people really like to, so I’m okay with that. Yeah. And I like them too. Like, can we hold hands? Yeah, because they really are very interconnected. But it’s both. And, you know, our psychology informs our physiology and our physiology informs our psychology. So mental health is physical health. And psychological safety in a group impacts our physical health and, and so in our body is a signal system around both. So it’s both for sure. You know, when once we established physical safety, I kind of joke like, once we’re in a new group setting, and we take murder off the table, we just want to figure out whether we belong. And whether we’re, and whether we’re going to be able to get our needs met, both physically and emotionally in that group. And that’s really at the heart of psychological safety. If I have a need, is it safe for me to communicate it? And will I be? Will it be attended to? Or will I be allowed to attend to it for myself? And so that’s where the tie is to the physical part. Because, like, as an example, if I’m in a meeting, and there’s a culture of rigidity that like were you is very polished you there’s a way to show up in that meeting. And at that table, right? That’s like, this is how you show up and you there’s a way to speak and a way to set up a way to present yourself if you and let’s say you’re supposed to sit there all day. So you can start to see like your the tension that you’re holding physically because of what the psychological norm is or the social norm. Yeah, they’re really tied together.
Aoife O’Brien 14:42
Okay, yeah. I mean, that makes total sense to me. And I suppose I have a question around this, you know, there is a question of, can we get our needs met through this group? And, like, I suppose where I’m going with this is is the answer always yes or does it depend on what that group is? And how you fit in with that group?
Beth Anstandig 15:06
I think it’s the latter. Yeah. And it’s why it’s really important to evaluate the culture of the group and the culture of you, you know, what are the culture norms that I need? And, and each group does have its own tolerance of, you know, and if it’s a group that has agreed, either implicitly or explicitly that they’re going to ignore certain needs. So it might be an unconscious agreement, or it might be one that they’ve like, turned into a policy, you need to know. Yeah, we can’t get our needs met everywhere. Yeah, yeah.
Aoife O’Brien 15:45
And what happens, what happens now, like, what’s the result?
Beth Anstandig 15:48
Well, internally, the result is that we suppress our needs, okay. And that becomes stress or trauma. And we have to figure out a way to live with that, which is, you know, really painful and, and if it’s not going to be painful, it’s going to be numbing. And so but which are both really destructive, because non mammals, mammals that are on autopilot, are super unsafe, they’re not noticing what’s happening within the group or around the group. So they’re surprised by things and they’re really reactive, they do destructive things. Yeah. So, you know, I think that there’s a lot of people that are operating in groups that are not right for them, or the group doesn’t even know that they have an underlying culture issue that have, you know, there’s an implicit agreement that we all ignore needs, or we don’t negotiate needs in our group. We don’t know how to do that, because that’s a skill, learning how to do that, how to identify your own needs, and take care of yourself, daily, all day, actually listening to yourself in that way. And this is really what my work is about is getting back to some basics. This is like, we don’t have a skills course throughout our lives to learn these things. So that and then the other piece is, you know, how do we talk about that with people and communicate our needs, and then figure out how to negotiate them in the group. If you’re hanging out with the herd of horses, which I do in my life, because I live here, other herd, and you watch them or dogs, I’ve, I’ve a lot of dogs, and you watch, they’re constantly communicating to each other about the group needs and individual needs. They’re queuing to each other all the time. And they just have this beautiful feedback system and it flows and the need is expressed and it’s attended to, there’s conflict, but they make the adjustments, move through them and then move on. And that’s what allows them to have ease. And so they would never waste energy on inviting more than they have to in a moment because they’re going to need that energy to survive. Yeah and we’re the same.
Aoife O’Brien 18:07
Yeah, there’s so many parallels, so many parallels.
Beth Anstandig 18:11
We are herd animals, and we just have created these lives where we waste energy. And it’s not a mammal survival tactic to waste energy, it’s like your energy in energy out. It’s a very basic formula. And so if we’re holding pressure and tension, and you know, worrying about safety, that’s all energy that our system is using. And so if you watch the herd, when something changes in it, like I’ve added new members to my herd, or I’ve, I’ve, you know, I’ve had that I’ve had two babies, baby horses here, and the dynamics have to change, the roles have to change and the herd has to make adjustments. And they’re so efficient at making those changes. They’re like change management experts. Okay. And they make those adjustments. And then there is a little bit more, there’s more feedback going on. It’s a little more dynamic for a little while, and then it’s over. They have settled in Yeah, so but they really commit to that process.
Aoife O’Brien 19:13
Yeah. And I think like bringing it back to the workplace, I’d love to understand more on your thoughts you mentioned about, oftentimes, we don’t know what our needs are, we suppress our needs. I’d love to dive into that a little bit more and help people to understand how to figure out what their needs are. Because until I did this research for my master’s dissertation, if someone had asked me a few years ago, what are your needs? And specifically, what are your needs at work? I probably wouldn’t have even known where to start. But you certainly know when your needs are not being met because you feel frustrated in some way. So I’d love to understand from your perspective, how do people kind of get in touch with what their needs are?
Beth Anstandig 19:56
So back to this concept of pressure, which is yeah, I’m not talking about overwhelm. But just little points of, you know, pressure within us where we tense up and get, you know, kind of bracey and you and sort of like, you know, it’s like getting your hackles up. And it doesn’t have to be anger or frustration, but just moments where something catches our attention and doesn’t sit right with us, okay? You know, where we feel that in our, in our body before we even before our mind even makes meaning out of it, like, what, what is it that I don’t like here? Or what am I needing? Those are happening all the time. And it can be something really small, it’s, the problem is we have so many of them that they pile up into pressure overload. But it could be like, all of our meetings are too fast, or like that we go too fast, and I can’t keep up with the pace of them, or somebody is too loud. Or there’s no space for me to ask a question. And so I have to hold a question or there. I’m not there’s nowhere in our flow of work in I’m just using meetings as an example. Yeah, for like, example,
Aoife O’Brien 21:11
I think, yeah, well, we
Beth Anstandig 21:12
have way too many of them. We don’t know the purpose of a meeting. So we’re just having them. And then we’re just like feeding information at each other. And there’s no connection, there’s no humanity there. So we’re like, that bores us. And, you know, we’re social animals. And so feeding information at each other, you know, is very numbing. And, but like in this conversation that we’re having, for instance, if this was a meeting, and there’s no give and take, right, like, I’m not checking in with you, where you have a get to have a presence here. Yeah, that’s an mammal need.
Aoife O’Brien 21:53
Yeah, okay. Yeah. Yeah. Right. Right. That it’s that’s a two way like, I’m checking in and you’re checking in.
Beth Anstandig 21:59
We’re all here. Yeah. So that would be like that. And that happens in meetings all the time, where people are just talked at, yeah, it’s not engaging. And so we then we feel kind of invisible. We have questions. We’re not really there’s no space to ask them. So that kind of squashes our intellectual spark. You know, we’re so we’re not getting like an intellectual need, need met a social need. And then there’s this deeper rooted thing, which is like, I don’t even think I matter here. Like, I don’t have okay. Yeah. And that starts to dig into, like, do I even belong? And it’s, it’s like an excess becomes an existential crisis, we’re not even aware is happening, which is like, I go to meetings all day, and I just sit there. And so what’s my purpose? And we might not know that that question is lurking. But if you you know, I work with people all the time, in my in my consultation practice, and like that is underneath the surface is people are sitting in all these meetings, feeling invisible. And first, there are no more than they’re annoyed. But then they’re actually asking a deeper rooted question, which is like, Is this my life? Like, why? Why am I here? Because that’s what the human mind does. That’s what the human identity does. We do need to feel purposeful. And we do need to have meaning. And we need to feel like we’re of service. So if we’re having it, we’re like putting all of our employees in this position where they don’t get to have that, that lifeforce. There’s no spark, and they’re like sleepwalking.
Aoife O’Brien 23:38
Yeah. And how often does this happen in organisations that you’veorganisations like, you know, what’s the kind of is, I suppose I’m thinking like, what is the rate? So is it that there’s a couple of people maybe that are feeling this way within a wider team is driven by the leadership? You know, so many different things going on in my head right now, about this?
Beth Anstandig 24:02
These are great questions. I think that it’s happening all the time. I don’t I think if this is a universal problem, I think is happening in our classrooms with our children and the way they’re being taught. Okay, yeah. And it’s so it just goes down the line generationally.
Aoife O’Brien 24:24
It’s a societal thing. It’s kind of how we’ve set things up with us and them. I’m the leader, and you’re the follower. And I’m the teacher and you’re the student.
Beth Anstandig 24:33
Yeah, it’s a hierachy model versus like a partnership model where we all matter here. Yeah. And so however long that’s been going on, and what in and in whatever cultures, and so I don’t think it’s true in every culture in the world, or in, you know, I look at more tribal societies that still exist and you know, they live much more communally and interesting adamantly, and so everyone matters. Yeah. So if you’re looking at like, if, you know, anytime I’ve seen, like, my daughter is 11. And I look at her classrooms and like, well, if everyone has a role and everyone’s roles matter, and that’s something that teacher builds into the culture, then you’re going to see a lot more inclusion. Yeah, of everyone’s voice, if that’s part of the culture, but I think in the workplace, and a lot of it comes down to habit and efficiency where we have or too busy, so we just skip over the relational culture piece to get through the meeting. Like we have these awful agendas. They’re like, packed full, but a lot of it is just people sharing information at each other.
Aoife O’Brien 25:41
It could have been a report or an email.
Beth Anstandig 25:47
That would be better. So if we really look at how we’re using meetings, it’s called a meeting. Let’s have an encounter.
Aoife O’Brien 25:54
Yeah, yeah. It’s about coming together. And you know, past podcast guests, I’ve talked about the different types of meetings that we have, like, whether it’s a discussion meeting or a brainstorming or absolutely need to make a decision. And yeah, both decision makers in the room as opposed to make try and make a decision about a 10 people committee, it’s like, it’s just not gonna happen. Now, something you mentioned earlier, Beth, was this concept of individual needs versus group needs, I’d love to drill into that a little bit more, because I’ve only ever really spoken about individual needs on the podcast. So we’d love to get a better understanding of kind of group dynamics of the group needs as you see it.
Beth Anstandig 26:33
Well, this is a hard thing for humans to wrap our heads around, because we are not used to needing each other as in groups.
Aoife O’Brien 26:41
Beth Anstandig 26:43
I mean, we’re, first of all, we have like just a total self care crisis. So we don’t even know we have individual needs. And then the other half of the problem is that we don’t know how to need each other. And really identify let other people support us and share openly about what we need and, and let people show up for us, or how to actually offer support. And I don’t necessarily mean emotional support. I mean, we don’t know how to work together as a group, we get where we get very self focused. And, but we are, we are, like I’ve said, like social mammals that live and work and operate in groups. And we just don’t know how to use the group to be able to share awareness, share roles, work collaboratively to be more efficient, or to have fun. To have more joy, we don’t know how to, to rest and let others carry our load. And there’s like a big communication gap there around it, you know, so the group, the group dynamics that happen are often just the default. Because we haven’t been intentional about like, how is our group? What are the most important behaviors that we do as a group that makes our work go easier, go more like flow easier, or for us to have more, we do a better job in our individual role. Because we use each other, you utilise each other, or weutiliseore joy and connection, because we utilise the relationshipsutiliseain, back to meetings, it’s like all we do as a group is have these meetings that we don’t like.
Aoife O’Brien 28:43
no more meetings!
Beth Anstandig 28:44
But in terms of working collaboratively. I’ll give you an example. Because I have a great team. And there are certain things where I’ll it’s like, I will lean on my team for things like thought partnership. Yeah. Like I have an idea that I want to flesh out. But when I go down that road by myself, it kind of like I get distracted. It can only go so far. I’m a one person system. Yeah,
Aoife O’Brien 29:12
Yeah. And so you need diversity of thinking.
Beth Anstandig 29:18
Yeah, yeah. And then and then it’s like, oh, the idea starts to come to life, right? Yeah. And then I’m like, Okay, now I need to put it into like writing. And I sit down at my computer by myself, and I like fall flat again. Yes. So I have a couple of collaborators that I work with, and we’ll get on to a call and like work on a document together and you will crank that thing out in like 10 minutes, which would normally take me a couple of days of procrastinating. Sitting there are that blank screen and I mean, I’m a writer so like I I don’t have a problem writing but like working independently all the time. Yeah. And then just going to meetings. is kind of in their extremes. Yeah. So we need places to meet in the middle to do some of that work together.
Aoife O’Brien 30:07
Yeah, yeah. I mean, in the context of, of the way the world of work is going now, and the new hybrid models, and a huge focus on the ability for people to work remotely like this is going to have a huge impact any thoughts on the future of work in relation to what you’re talking about?
Beth Anstandig 30:27
You know, I think we can be really intentional about the social needs. And think about, you know, if we’re gonna be doing remote, are there ways for people to come together and be be creative about how they do come together? Can there be some commitment to come together for some bonding, and trust building is really important, and it’s, it is hard to do, virtually, it’s not impossible, but it is hard to do. And it’s really important for people to have experiences together that are three dimensional. And so, you know, and so if there’s a way to negotiate that piece, like, can we come together once or twice a year, and do some kind of retreat experience, or in small groups, and then, you know, at least try to bridge that gap. But I think, you know, going back to this idea of, of like working on things together. We can do that remotely, if we just set that up, like we have little working pads, or it’s like, okay, like, set up your schedule with your team where like a couple people are kind of accountability or your good collaborator, a good start thought partner. So once a week, for a couple hours, you are working on work projects side by side, and you’re live on a zoom call, and just kind of talking it through. So it’s not so lonely. And you can ask each other questions, it would be like you were sharing a conference room and working on your independent projects, but bouncing things off of each other. So like having some just it but it’s about collaboration.
Aoife O’Brien 32:01
Yeah. I think that’s it, that’s a huge thing. There’s a couple of things there, I think that are missing from work at the moment. And the thing that springs to mind is the thinking time. So if you’re I love this idea of a thought partner, and I’m feeling like I should head over to LinkedIn now and advertise for a thought partner that can work with me. But even you know, things that sprang to mind for me, because I feel like there’s not enough prioritisation going on iprioritisationmoment where people are just taking all the work and accepting it and doing it, rather than thinking, right, what are the really important things, and I think having someone to bounce those ideas off, to talk through, okay, so here’s what I’m thinking are the priorities, here’s what I need to focus on this week, and the rest can wait till next week, or the rest doesn’t need to be done at all, whatever the case might be. But I think just having someone and it’s not a case of that’s going to, that’s an additional hours in my week, that I can’t manage to carve out. It’s like, that’s the only hour in the week that you need, because that’s gonna determine what you spend your rest of your hours doing. And, you know, because you need that upfront time.
Beth Anstandig 33:16
Yeah, people have shame about this, though, like I talk about this with clients all the time. And they don’t have anyone like we have, we have, we’re one person’s closed system. And last, we have partnership and and in talking things through with others, we are a one person closed system, which is just not safe. And so it we’re, we’re very limited, we only see what we see, we only know what we know. And so there’s, but there’s some idea that we’re supposed to be able to do that on our own. And I don’t know where that came from,
Aoife O’Brien 33:54
That we have the answers that we should be able to figure it out. What do you think is driving that like that’s kind of maybe a culture within an organisation,
I think it’s the hierarchy again, which is like you get to certain levels, and you should know everything. And so it’s somehow expressing a vulnerability if you need others. Because it is what you’re saying is I actually need you. I need you to think it through and talk it through with me. And until I mean, I, I lived this. So I I’ve walked every mile of this journey in my own life and work life, which I really, I didn’t know how to need others. And I don’t know where I mean, I have my own psychological story and relational story of where I believe that came from, but I also think it is cultural. Yeah. And it’s like you’re afraid to tell people that you’re at a certain level, and you still need that kind of support and help, but we never stopped needing it. Yeah. And so, but I think it there Yeah, I think it’s like there’s an expectation that as a leader or, especially for leadership if you keep climbing that ladder, that you should be providing that to others rather than needing it. Yeah. But it’s, that’s not the case. It’s yeah. We never stopped needing it.
Aoife O’Brien 35:14
It’s really interesting that you say that because as you were kind of talking about the the other issues in my mind, I’m thinking of people who are a little bit more junior in an organisation, I’m not picorganisationder in my head, and I’m probably thinking over the leader has everything figured out already. But it’s great. It’s really refreshing to hear that that’s not necessarily the case.
Beth Anstandig 35:34
It’s never the case. I’ve never said it that way. Most of the really successful leaders that I work with, do have thought partners, and may have people in their team that they’ve identified, they may have a chief of staff role. And they’re using that person in that way. Yeah. And so that person is and then that person is going and gathering information to give to the leader to like flesh out what to focus on. And so they have a partner that Yeah, yeah. But I think what happens is you have a lot of leaders who don’t do that. And or people believe they’re doing it on their own. So junior people, if the leader isn’t talking about that, and teaching it, then it’s not being mentored and role modeled. Yeah. So if they’re doing it, they’re doing it secretly, or they’re not doing it at all. Yeah, we learn generationally. Yeah. And so, and we learn how to take care of ourselves by watching our elders take care of themselves. So we have to show people what we’re doing. So I’m really transparent when I’m teaching about, like, it took me a year to get my calendar the way I needed it to be, so that my assistant could schedule things like we worked on it together. Like, what’s the best flow of my week that allows me to do all the different things that I do? And I, like, I’ll talk people through that process. And it’s like, all the lights go on there. Like, I just let things get scheduled. I don’t have specific work times or who do I pull into this project so that I can do my best work? Or, you know, it’s very thought out around my needs, and my collaborative needs. Yeah. And so people don’t if the people don’t know that’s happening, they don’t know how to create that for themselves. Yeah, we need to be teaching it.
Aoife O’Brien 37:20
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I love that approach.
Beth Anstandig 37:23
Teach people who are newer in the workplace. Yeah. And, I mean, I, I think people have a lot of shame there. And it’s so unnecessary, because we we just aren’t showing, showing people how to do this. Yeah.
Aoife O’Brien 37:38
And I think it means the role modeling is, is really, really important, especially in an organisational context. Aorganisationale covered a lot of ground in the discussion today, is there anything that you feel like that we haven’t touched on that you’d like to share? You know, anything, anything that we haven’t covered specifically?
Beth Anstandig 37:57
Um, I think that just going back to these, this self needs, and other needs or group needs, yeah, kind of that dialectic, that? I think it’s important. If we’re, you know, we, if we put in context, that when we’re talking about leadership, and the definition of leadership, and an expanded and perhaps updated definition of leadership, that we really are first talking about how we’re leading ourselves. And so, you know, work, if you are taking care of your own needs, listening to your own needs, you’re leading yourself through your day and through your life with some stability, and then we’re able to actually lead others, whether we’re doing that in a, you know, small scale with a couple of people or an entire organisation, or whether organisationit at home and leading a family, or a friend group or community action, or whatever it is, but it does that I really like to think about leadership first and foremost as How am I taking care of my own needs? And how am I leading myself, and that the idea of leadership is of leading others is first pointing, like helping them see their own needs and helping them identify how to get those needs met. And so yes, we might have an intention and a vision and we’re setting direction and pace and like those are all all those things are happening. Those are all the actions, but right underneath that I have to make sure that I’m taking care of myself so I can do those things stably and I’m checking in with my people so that they have their needs met and we’re doing it together. So we I think we’ve overcomplicated a lot of the leadership definitions. Yeah. And I just go back to the animals and Then the culture piece is just about does our group do we take care of each other’s needs? And how do we take care of each other’s needs. And that’s how we define our culture. So, again, it’s going to be more behavioral and less about values and principles and ideas, not that those don’t matter, you’d be able to name them within the behaviors. But I think coming from my background with psychology and the animal world, I need to see leadership behaviorally, and I need to see culture behaviorally, what are the things that are actually happening?
Aoife O’Brien 40:35
Yeah, absolutely. 100% agree. I mean, I talk about culture being very closely related to values, but it is in how behaviors show or power decisions made? How do you decide what to do? How do you decide who to promote? And and how are you behaving in the organisation? And is thatorganisationof the values of that organisation that you sayorganisationeah, I mean, really, really insightful stuff today. Thank you so much for sharing that. Yeah. The question I ask everyone, the new question I ask everyone who comes on the podcast is, what does being happier at work mean to you?
Beth Anstandig 41:12
I think being happier at work is about being more connected to who we really are like that true self, the most authentic part of you, the part of you that really lights you up, that you’re able to feel that and express that at work. And that you’re part of groups that know that part of you, they know it and see it and, and that you that you’re known in that way. And I think when we have those two things that we can really show up, and be fully alive and fully ourselves, and that that is a known, seen part of us by others, and others allow us to really see them, where happiness comes from now.
Aoife O’Brien 42:01
And if people want to reach out if they want to connect with you, and feel free to talk about your book, as well, I know it just came out quite recently, what’s the best way that people can do that?
Beth Anstandig 42:12
So I wrote a book that was released two weeks ago. It’s called the human herd awakening our natural leadership and, and it is available at bookstores everywhere. And my website is thecircleupexperience.com and you can read more about my work I do, I do a lot of writing. So there’s my work and content gets spread out there on a few different platforms, and also on my blog, and, and then events and courses, I do a number of virtual courses and groups. And so people from I do get to work with people all over the world, which is wonderful. And I love hearing from people. So you’re always welcome to reach out through the website.
Aoife O’Brien 42:59
Thank you so much for your time today. I really enjoyed the chat, I wasn’t sure what direction it was going to take. But absolutely enjoyed it. I think it’s given a really different perspective to anything that I’ve heard before certainly, and a really, really interesting conversation. So thank you for that.
Beth Anstandig 43:16
Thank you so much for having me. This was a pleasure.
Aoife O’Brien 43:21Thank you for making it this far into the podcast. I’m so delighted that you are here today listening and choosing to listen to the happier work podcast today. So before I go on to do a synopsis of some of the key points that Beth and I discussed on today’s episode, I wanted to remind you to get involved in the conversation on social media either on LinkedIn, you can connect with me Aoife O’Brien, that’s A O I F E , apostrophe, B R I E N or on Instagram happieratwork.ie, either in the stories or on the grid on Instagram. Now Beth and I started the conversation about teamwork and the group facilitation that she does. And one thing that kind of stood out for me was this idea that people feel that they don’t even know that they’re not okay, so that there’s so much going on that they’ve completely disconnected from themselves, essentially. So you’re just kind of going about the day to day, she floated this idea of the team as a community of people. And that is certainly something that we’ve talked about before. And Ted Rubin on the podcast previously shared about this concept of, you know, work being more of a community rather than anything else. I really liked that idea of it being a community, Beth talked about us ignoring our animal body signals. So we’ve checked out from our own bodies, we’re making adjustments to kind of to remove ourselves from that. So we don’t actually hear what our needs are. We’re so distracted by our thinking and our talking, or else we make a decision not to meet those needs. And then these pressures build up and it results in tensions and stresses and either It blows up and explodes and that’s when we go after others. So through anger through, you know, arguments, things like that, we go numb. So we’re kind of dullling the sensitivity of what we’re feeling where we go after ourselves. So we implode and we self sabotage, we talked about, you know, what, what was the difference maybe between biological needs or or psychological needs. And bath explains the relationship between the two and how they are actually interrelated. So I thought that was quite interesting as well. Now, we talked then about group needs versus individual needs, and what the difference between those is, we kind of went on to in a little bit of detail around that, we talked about conflict. And specifically, in the case of horses, where there is conflict, they make adjustments, and then they move on. So I thought that was quite interesting. And probably, as humans, we can take a few learnings from that. We talked about the wasted energy of worrying about safety. So if you feel you’re in an environment that is not psychologically safe, there’s an awful lot of wasted energy. And again, this is something that has come up on the podcast previously, where we waste an awful lot of energy and time. And it makes, it means that we’re less productive, it means that we’re less efficient, it means that we’re not performing at our best when we feel like we’re in an unsafe environment. Beth also shared some kind of real life examples, specifically in meetings around being talked at. So I don’t even think I matter here, I don’t belong, what’s my purpose, it’s people are feeling invisible Is this my life, there’s this need to feel purposeful, and have a sense of meaning and be of service to other people. But actually, if we don’t have that, we don’t have that spark for work. And, you know, as I mentioned, towards the end of our discussion, one of the things that struck me was I kind of assumed that this was happening for people who are individual contributors, and not necessarily senior leaders. But she did mention that that’s happening within all levels in organisations. And I thouorganisationsmething worth kind of tapping into worth exploring a little bit more. Another point that was made was that we’re not really used to needing each other, we’re not used to letting other people support us. And there’s this huge self care crisis, where we think that we need to do everything alone, we’re very reluctant to reach out to other people. But it’s, it’s really good to use other people for, you know, to to share the load. And, you know, if we want to take a rest and let others carry our load for us, we talked about group dynamics, and they’re being kind of this default, because we haven’t set an intention for how the group is actually going to work. And again, this is something that’s come up in other contexts as well. I absolutely loved that idea of the thought partnership, and having that person to bounce ideas around with but also allowing yourself that time to do that, because that is something that’s really missing. And, you know, something I’m a huge advocate for is taking that time initially to set what the priorities are. And rather than being reactive to what’s coming into your inbox, being proactive and taking responsibility for the work that you actually do, rather than complaining that you’re overloaded, if you’re just accepting things as status quo, if you’re not pushing back in building on this idea of thinking and assuming that it’s just people who are at those more junior levels in an organisation who are expeorganisations, the assumption being that you get to a certain level, and you should know everything already. And that creating a certain sense of on safety or an unsafe environment in itself. Because the assumption is there that you don’t need help that you shouldn’t be asking other people for help. We talked about the updated definition of leadership, and really leadership being about how we lead ourselves first how we meet our own needs. And then when it comes to leading other people, understanding what their needs are and helping them to see their needs and have their needs met. And I just I love this entire concept of needs, because I think it’s so so important in the workplace. And it ties in really strongly with the research that I did as part of my masters in relation to happiness at work. So absolutely buy into that whole needs satisfaction piece. Albeit Beth is coming at it from a slightly different angle, but it’s still a really, really interesting discussion and I really hope you enjoyed today’s podcast. I’ll be back again next week for another solo episode. That was another episode of The happier at work podcast. I am so glad you tuned in today. If you enjoy today’s podcast, I would love to get your thoughts head on over to social media to get involved in the conversation. If you enjoy the podcast, I would love if you could rate, review it or share it with a friend. If you want to know more about what I do or how I could