Mary Ann 0:01
So when we're safe with another person, it widens our capacity to create It widens our capacity to look at options and choices. We even know that when people are not feeling safe when they're feeling, for example, levels of stress in their system, their physical peripheral vision narrows, that's why we don't see the wood for the trees.
Finola Howard 0:20
That's Maryanne McGowan. And she has been a leadership development coach for over 20 years. Mary's core philosophy is that people are not just what they do, but who they are. And it's an important conversation from both an entrepreneurial and a marketing perspective, too. And that's why I invited her to have a conversation on the podcast. It's also why I asked her to draw parallels between her own work with larger organizations and her journey as an entrepreneur. I'm Finola Howard, intuitive marketer, your host and founder of How Great Marketing Works, I believe that every business has a story to tell, because that's how the market decides whether to buy or not. And your story has to resonate with who you are, and with the people you want to serve. And this podcast is about helping you reach the market in a way that feels right to you. So if you're an entrepreneur with a dream you want to make real, then this is the podcast for you. Because great marketing is your truth shared. Today, I find myself being very calm. And I find myself being very calm and even zen like because of who I'm speaking to today. Because this is a person I love to speak to, because we have these lovely, lovely conversations. And they start out as one thing. And then we go and we meander a little bit, but there's always wisdom and I really enjoy it. So, welcome, welcome. Welcome Maryanne McGowan. How are you today?
Unknown Speaker 1:52
Good Finola, thanks for having me on board. I need I'm excited to hang out with you for half an hour.
Finola Howard 1:59
Oh, I love it. I love it. What I'd love to do is when I when we backed and forth about what we will talk about today. And you know that I changed my mind about two or three times, because there's always so much to choose from of what we can talk about. And in the end, I came back to your website. Okay. And I love this quote, people are not what they do, but who they are. And it's such a great way of describing what you do. Do you want to share a little bit about what you do?
Unknown Speaker 2:33
Yeah, sure. So I work in leadership development. And as part of that, I am also an executive coach. But it's probably a simplistic description. You know, I think, my heart and my passion has always been around this idea that people are not just what they do their hands and their heart, right? They're both those things. And I think when we allow people to show up fully, and if as leaders, we recognize the whole of the person at work, then we are in that space where thriving can happen, where, you know, people can give the best of them. And even when they're not at their best, there's enough caring in the space to sort of check in and ask why.
Finola Howard 3:19
I like that you say that there's enough caring in this space, do you think? Do you think we're more caring now than especially with COVID? Do you think we're more caring? Do you think organizations are more caring?
Unknown Speaker 3:32
Oh, you know what I really think even though this has been such a challenging time for all of us, I have experienced and I have witnessed with the leaders that I work with a real sense of, we have to look after our people. And not just are they getting the job done? Like when this first happened? Of course, there was initial, oh, my goodness, everybody's working from home. Can we trust that? That's shifted, and even more. So now I'm noticing is how do I as a leader, make sure my people are okay. These are the conversations I'm now having? How do I make sure that with the turmoil of trying to manage, you know, working from home, putting a child in front of a screen at 10 o'clock, maybe looking after an elderly relative trying to juggle people are working hard and long, by the way, it's not that they're short, they're working. They're working hard and long. I'm finding that leaders are coming from a place of like, I'll ask them, why does this matter to you? And we have these conversations, and they will say to me directly? It matters, Mary Ann, because I care about these people. There's a caring, they want they care more about their mental health. They're having those conversations now. And they wouldn't have had those conversations before.
Finola Howard 4:46
Yeah, it's wonderful. It's because I like this, that you started with. I mean, we start from fear, don't we? With, can we trust that they're doing the work? Yeah. So we start with fear and then I don't know Did the world gets so fearful that we have swung a little the other way to realize that the humanity of it all, the fact that you have to care that, you know, if you don't care, you won't have people to help you grow an organization, or am I being too simplistic? I mean, how do we move from this old industrial era of how you manage staff and how you manage teams, to actually realizing that true, the true meaning of this has always been of interest to me, the true meaning of the word human resources, HR, I mean, such a beautiful phrase human resources that actually embraces and celebrates humanity. And it is gone. That phrase is so awful now.
Unknown Speaker 5:49
Yeah, I think it's the resource part of the human that has I struggled with it myself, I worked by the way at human resources for many years. It's the that word resources, it kind of takes some of the human out of the phrase, you know, because it's an asset. Yeah, it is an asset. But to your question, you know, have we moved from have we shifted from fear, to care to human centered leadership? I think that shift has been happening. But I think there has been a sense in this pandemic, that we're all in this together. Yeah, I'm experiencing what you you're experiencing? To some extent, it's been this leveler. Yeah. You know, like, I'm trying to manage, you know, the child who's not at school, you're trying to do the same thing. You know, it's like to struggle day to day while, you know, it's like, before we could, you know, we could put things in the box, this box is my work box, this box is my home box. This box is my self care box. Now I'm working with people will they'll say, you know, at lunchtime, or, for example, we're having a meeting together. Why don't we go for a walk, I'll walk where I am, and you walk where you are. And that way, we're not just talking about the things that have to be done in the tasks that need to be achieved. But we're, we're walking, we're getting some fresh air. And because there's a sense of, it's less formal. We're starting to share more things with each other as well. It's like going for that walk around the building that we used to do. And we're saying, Well, how are you? Yeah, yeah, I think this this, there is some good that has come from this. I really believe there's some good that has come from this,
Finola Howard 7:23
that, that perhaps the old meeting room that we can no longer meet in that we realized that that was actually a shackle?
Unknown Speaker 7:31
Yeah, yeah, exactly. I was on a call with a very, like a senior HR person recently. And he looked at me, Mary Ann I'm really sorry, there was a child screaming outside the door. And I found myself going, it's just, this is really okay. Like, you don't do that. I'll wait. You know, it's nearly nice to see the whole of you. You know, that yes, always is cool, calm, collected, individual, that I see that I can actually see this other side of you. And you know what that does for me, in that relationship with that person, I see more of him, which means I have more empathy for him. I am connecting with him more, because suddenly, I realize, gosh, you know, there's more going on in your life than I realized. You know, and it's cut me off, because you're racing somewhere, I might find myself going, there's probably a reason for that. As opposed to it, well, how dare you cut me off?
Finola Howard 8:29
Whereas you might have before might have, yeah, I see the human being. See,
Unknown Speaker 8:33
I don't see. Like if I think about some of the some of the people that I work with, you know, there's that cool professionalism. And sometimes that can create distance, whereas now it's like, the walls have come down. And it's sort of like, you know, we're all in this. We're all in this together. We're all people, hierarchies don't really matter. And I think from a leadership perspective, you know, we are shifting and it has been happening anyway. But we're shifting from a power over to a power with dynamic.
Finola Howard 8:59
Say it again, with power
Mary Ann 9:01
over the power over to a power with dynamic and that is that's, you know, that's the boss that's from boss to coach that's from boss to partnering. That's from telling to partnership that's from CO creating conversations.
Finola Howard 9:15
So explain it now for people. So power because to go slower, because sometimes, sometimes I love when you speak and I want to sit with it. So power over to power with what's that mean? Now.
Unknown Speaker 9:30
So power over if you said earlier, this traditional sort of style. That power over if you like comes from my position as your boss, right and power over would suggest that I know better I know more. My job is to direct you. But power with is actually you know, we're two people both of us have different strengths. Both of us have things that we're not good at together we're better and I respect and value your intellect. I I respect and value your contribution. And when things go wrong, as your leader, we will figure it out together. Recently, I found myself saying to a group of people, we were talking about strengths, for example. And I said, if we think about the word root cause analysis, what do we associate that with? We associate that with getting to the root cause of a problem. How about root cause success? What about the root cause analysis of success, where we look at what we do well together, and we, you know, we understand and we study success, not just failure, you know, and power with is the space that says, You're welcome. You're invited into this conversation.
Finola Howard 10:43
This is also happening, from a marketing perspective, that this idea of, you know, much as you speak about. And I find myself having lots of conversations about drawing a parallel between what's happening in organizations, and how they treat people. And then conversations with entrepreneurs and business owners and how they treat customers. And that difference between even I'm not sure about the power over, but there is a little of that. And but the power with the power, as you say, of co creation, it's amazing. Like, I've come from a period of time where I've been quiet for about a year, what during COVID, because I've changed so many things in my life. And we're doing some stuff with customers at the moment, and I'm finding God, I love these conversations with my customers. And they teach me so much. It's so you can never go wrong when your customer steers you.
Unknown Speaker 11:46
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, what you described there is the ability to be present with that other person with that other human being, in your case, that customer. Right. And I will say one of the things I talk to, with the leaders that I work with is you can only be present with another human being when you're present with yourself.
Finola Howard 12:06
Okay. I agree. Talk more. Yeah. And
Unknown Speaker 12:11
I love that, like, what you're doing there, for example, is something I say to the leaders I work with, clarify people's meaning when they say, you know, present with yourself, what does that mean? Because we have different understanding of phrases and words. So what that means for me, being present with myself is I'm not distracted by what's happened already today. And what I need to do later, I'm just here with you. Just here with you. I'm just here with you. So you know, I'm in this moment with you. And there is something very powerful about that, and respectful about that. It, invites the other person to also be here in the space. And there's something about it that says, you know, this is safe. Like we can be present with each other, more things will arise, deeper conversations will happen. I will show up more fully. Because you're honoring me by by being present with me.
Finola Howard 13:12
It there's something something magical about it, too. You know, it's the magic of possibility of Yeah, true understanding. It's, it's you're in that kind of awareness, self awareness, enlightenment space. But possibility space, I like possibility.
Unknown Speaker 13:34
Yeah, yeah. And, gosh, I completely agree with you this this place where innovation can happen. This place, I'm creative, when I'm, I'm more creative when I'm safe. I see bigger things when I feel safe with you, you know, when I don't feel like I can trust you, when I feel like I have to be careful with you. Right? And when that's in the leadership space, we're not going to have people who are going to give fully up themselves, how could we. So when I need to be careful with you, when I need to be mindful of what's the impact it's going to have to have on me if I am open and honest and throw out ideas. So when we're safe with another person, it widens our capacity to create IT widens our capacity to look at options and choices. We even know that when people are not feeling safe when they're feeling for example, levels of stress in their system. Their physical peripheral vision narrows. That's why we don't see the wood for the trees. So when the leadership or the relationship that you have with your customers, for example, is so safe. It's sort of like possibility thinking arises. I see more.
Finola Howard 14:44
The peripheral vision statement is interesting. It makes and I want you to talk more about that. But it makes me think about it's something I've said to lots of people about ideas in business that you sometimes Entrepreneurs can be very careful about their ideas and hold them very closely and hold them very tightly. And sometimes it's appropriate from an intellectual property, intellectual property perspective. But sometimes it has the counterpoint of, I think it's like, you know, those images that you see in films in of the prisoner in the jail, holding his arm tightly over his food dish, his food tray making sure that nobody else steals it. And when you behave like that, then nothing else gets in, you can't see, you know, whereas if you are throw away about ideas or about ego, even, you know, not caring about this jockeying for position to get the upper hand, you know, this power over thing, again, this competitive streak, whereas actually, if we are, if we fling our hand away from our food tray, and to actually look at the world, that peripheral vision idea, much more as possible. Yeah. Yeah. I
Mary Ann 16:02
love that you said that. And, I mean, isn't that why it all starts with the inner work? For us, as human beings, as leaders, as people in marketing entrepreneurs, it all starts with understanding, what is it about me, that is so fearful? Am I getting in my own way here? You know, and, and for me working with leaders or as a, as a coach, working with my clients in general, so much of that starts with, you know, knowing how you get in your own way, knowing how you sabotage yourself, why, like, what is it about? What is it about you that you are holding that dish so tightly in the crook of your arm? What would happen if you loosen that grip? What is the worst thing that can happen? That inner work is so important?
Finola Howard 16:48
It's same for business, I was out for my walk this morning with my friend. And we were just because I can't help myself, I always end up talking about marketing some point. But, and I always say this, that most of the work that I do with clients is about unraveling baggage letting letting the baggage down to allow the possibilities happen. Because business and marketing is actually not that complicated. Someone said to me in a course years ago and said, Finola, it's simple. Ask your customer what they want, and just give it to them. That's it. And, and I never forgot that. So I mean, I can do all these wonderful programs and all the rest of it, but it boils down to that. The rest is our own stuff.
Unknown Speaker 17:34
Yeah, I so agree with you. I often say, you know, leadership is about conversations. It's common sense, but not always common practice. meaningful conversations.
Finola Howard 17:49
No, no, Tell me tough conversations, too. I, I love this work that you've done on conversations about learning how to have a tough a difficult conversation.
Mary Ann 18:00
Yeah, so it's funny when I when I do this piece of work with people, again, I don't talk about the other person you have to have the conversation with, I first of all, talk about you yourself. Right? We have to own our reactions, we have to have the awareness. It's absolutely acceptable and perfectly fine and normal and human, to in the moment have a reaction, like an emotional charge, you know, or, or difficulty or anger or frustration? Absolutely. But we can't put that on the other person, we have to own that for ourselves. You know, and then, you know, from that space of I often say it's like getting into the gap between stimulus and response. Right. So how are you going to show up in that conversation? How are you going to invite the other person into that conversation? How are you going to create openness in the space that would suggest that, you know, there's what I have observed, not necessarily what I know to be true, but I have made some observations, I have some concerns, without jumping to conclusions without adding my own interpretation to that, which is a very human thing to do to have the awareness to keep that objective. And then to go into that conversation with the other person. Instead of being triggered instead of moving from that place of the frustration taking over how you show up, you're able to say, I want to talk to you about this. I am concerned about it, here's why. But the next part of that is an invitation. And the invitation is I really want to hear your perspective. I really want to understand how you see this,
Finola Howard 19:32
how do you move into that space of self awareness enough that you know, and we've had this conversation before where you have a difficult thing to to speak to someone about, you know you're being triggered. But because you're being triggered, you can be self aware enough. If we're lucky, we can be self aware enough to know I am being triggered. But sometimes it's really hard to move past that point. Yeah, to being able, that is that the gap you're speaking about.
Unknown Speaker 20:04
That is the gap. That is like why when I work with leaders, I often talk about this sort of your intention versus your impact, you may intend to be a leader who, you know, allows for space for conversation, you may intend to be a leader that shows great respect for the people around you, you may intend to be a leader that values and understands that people have other things going on in their life, and maybe what they're presenting is not what's happening behind you behind the behind the scenes. But when you're triggered, that intention can get lost and your impact can be very, might not be aligned with the intention. So working with leaders, it's an ourselves, Finola, like the journey that we do, it's all about, to some extent becoming masterful over your mind. It's developing that capacity to be the boss of your own mind. Hmm. And that's, that's what it's all about for all of us.
Finola Howard 21:00
I know, when I have conversations, to have conversations with Sean about, do you know, you know, he's 12. So it's, I haven't yet quite communicated this with him, but to, to show him, I think that he doesn't always realize he has that ability to be masterful over his mind. And then when I think about it even more, most of us actually realize we can be masterful over our minds.
Unknown Speaker 21:33
And sometimes, you know, when we are then the beauty about that, and I think it's a lifelong journey, by the way, but the beauty about that is, we then can find that space, as I said, getting into the gap, where we're choosing our response, it's not being chosen from us by the programming, by the conditioning, by the triggers, by the internal critics, or the saboteours, that we all have. You know, like, like the judgment that, like, we judge ourselves, we judge others. We are as human beings, we're so often addicted to being right, because it gives us a great kick, you know, a real feel good hormone comes in there and says, Oh, I'm right. Again, point scoring, you know, we have, we have a lot to overcome, to develop that mastery. You know, so that when I'm going into that difficult conversation, I'm able to, rather than trying to prove I'm right, or assert how I feel things should go, I'm able to create space for more information to emerge. The unknown, the unknown. Yeah, the the other story that you and me story the you and me story. That doesn't mean and here's the thing about leaders, of course, you have authority, and you have to use it. Right, that's about setting boundaries, making sure it like you're building the walls, the walls are the expectations, the walls are the mutualised goals and expectations. The walls are the values and the behaviors that, you know, we're building the culture and they are the walls, but within those walls, their space. Here's a
Finola Howard 23:09
question for you. When you say that you and me conversation, when you go in, it makes me think about old leadership or management techniques when you enter a conversation, but you enter the intent piece that so often, managers and leaders were taught historically that you go into that difficult conversation with an intended result in mind, a very specific stated, even documented, even pre agreed resolution of how the what resolution means. Whereas if we go into those difficult conversations with space and with possibility, imagine what could happen.
Unknown Speaker 23:55
Imagine what could happen. And when you do that, you're inviting the whole of the person to take part in the conversation. Not the person who is afraid of speaking their truth. Mm hmm. And I don't want people to think you know, that, you know, we're, we're returning leadership into something soft and fluffy. This is, this is hard work. Like the ability to have command over how you show up choosing your response. This is hard work. And also, you know, you go into sticking with that difficult conversation and you've had that, you know, real exploration, you've made curious, you're trying to understand your present, right, because you can't have empathy without presence. So you're trying to hear where they're coming from, understand where they're coming from your present. You're stating what you need to say, right? Why you're raising your concerns. You're sharing solutions you're sharing, how do we resolve this together and you're moving forward, but not everybody will meet you in that space either. And sometimes, you know, As a leader, the conversation may end up with, here's what I need from you. And here's why I need it and the expectation may well be clarified. And you know, we go down the road of performance issues, of course, that happens. And sometimes we don't have the right person in the job. But there's, there are compassionate ways there are human centered ways in which we can, you know, follow that path if we need to follow that path. And it doesn't involve explosion, it doesn't involve anger, it doesn't involve moving into what I refer to as it's a critical parent. It can be done with dignity, and respect.
Finola Howard 25:36
I like that. Because the tendency might be to be really nice and tick those lovely, you know, I'd say trendy, but it's a very disrespectful term. But that that cooler way of being a leader, oh, yeah, then going well, if that doesn't work as a turn that switch off, and I'll go back to my old industrial era, leadership modal
Unknown Speaker 26:01
model? No, we do tend to follow the popular thing. Right. And that's right, I completely agree with you. In fact, you know, we talk about my relationship with you as the foundation of, of me being effective leader, like leadership is relational, I 100 percent believe that. But also, there is something to be said about me exercising the fact that I do have a job to do and exercising that authority. Because if I don't do that, in fact, I'm undermining my credibility not only in your eyes, but in the eyes of the team. I like
Finola Howard 26:31
to see how you how you phrased that statement of this is what I need from you. That's what that's about. It's such a nice way to phrase it,
Unknown Speaker 26:40
Well words create worlds Finola, and so much of what I do, when we talk about awareness, we talk about you seeing the impact that you're having, it starts with the words that you use the tone of voice that you bring to the conversation, you know, we think that people will understand or they know what you mean, I think we have to be careful with our words, we have to develop the capacity to use language wisely.
Finola Howard 27:06
I again, I see I always love your language, it's a very considered, and compassionate language, you know, and when you speak to a marketer, you know, I love language. So when you say to me, words, create worlds, I know exactly what you mean, you but you have this beautiful way that allows allows safety.
Unknown Speaker 27:34
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And, you know, one of the things I carry with me, and I think it's probably driven this human centered leadership that I'm so passionate about is, I really, genuinely believe most of us are trying our best. You know, and if we show up in a way that doesn't look like our best, you know, that is, might be perceived as awkward or difficult or challenging. There's usually something going on there. And if we understood, if we really understood what was going on there, we'd probably have compassion for the other person.
Finola Howard 28:10
Yeah, you know, that's a really good way to finish this conversation. Really is, what would you like to leave people with and tell us where they can find out more about you, Mary Ann?
Unknown Speaker 28:22
I think it is, like we were all leaders. I think I need to say that I think you know, as a parent you're a leader, as a friend, we were all leaders we all have influence in the world. Right? And that's a leadership thing, being able to influence. So I think we can all work towards showing up as our best self we can all bring compassion, we can all bring, we can all do the inner work as well. We can all take that pause. Right? We can all take that pause between stimulus and response, we can start to do that. And I guess in terms of where you find me, you find me at MaryAnnMcGowan.com, Finola that was in its own journey, you know, being able to step into my name, and to be you know, say that this is my brand because it represents what's interesting about me moving from the previous brand to Mary Ann McGowan is I'm really lining and linking up with, what's the contribution I want to make and what's the impact I want to have in the world.
Finola Howard 29:21
It's a part. Before we close, I'd love you to talk about that a little bit more because it's such a journey. You talked about truth, you know, coming with truth, but to step into our own truth, which for me is brand like real brand is truth. Yeah. It's such a powerful thing to step into your own truth,
Unknown Speaker 29:43
yeah. And Finola, such a hard thing to do. You know, here I am working with my clients and I'm getting them to do their inner work and get out of their own way. But it was a leap of faith for me to say that Mary Ann McGowan is good enough. Yeah, you know that it's perfectly okay for me to take up space, as I am not hiding behind anything else. And I had to do and am still doing that work. I will continue to do that work and I continue to do the things that scare me a little bit.
Finola Howard 30:19
We hear it a lot about that Marianne Williamson. Oh, yes, being afraid of our own light and our own brilliance. And that is the, for me, that's the first core foundational step for every marketing is identity. Yeah. And being brave enough to step into it in truth, and because it frees you. It is so it is filled with opportunity filled with power to step into your own truth.
Unknown Speaker 30:53
Yeah. And it creates like a beacon of light. That's what it feels like. For me. One of the things I'm very, very clear on is where I'm headed, what I believe in what's important to me. Like, I still have fear, I will still go will I will I click publish on that blog? Is it okay? Is Mary Ann McGowan good enough? Course, you know, but there is that commitment, you know, to, you know, here I am, this is my, this is what I'm, this is what I'm passionate about. And not everybody will love me and that is okay. My tribe will find me and I'll find my tribe. And I guess there's a belief in that a lot about everybody. It's just about, you know, connecting with the people where, you know, they share that passion. They believe in human centered leadership, they believe in developing and growing as a human being as well as a as a leader or an entrepreneur or a business owner.
Finola Howard 31:51
Wonderful. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it. I knew I would you never disappoint. Have a wonderful day Mary Ann,
Mary Ann 32:00
you too. Thank you.
Finola Howard 32:02
I hope you enjoyed that episode. And if you'd like to find out more about Mary Ann, just check out her website at Mary Ann McGowan, M A R Y A N N M C G O W A N . COM Or @putwhofirst on Instagram. And if you'd be so kind to share this episode with someone you know, who would find it valuable, I would greatly appreciate it. If you'd like to reach out to me about the podcast or anything else you can email me directly at [email protected] and I'll be back next week with another guest and until then, take care
Transcribed by https://otter.ai