Joerg Schmitz 0:08
Welcome to the inclusive leader podcast. The practice of inclusive leadership enables us to tackle the complex challenges of our times. This is the space for conversations about inclusive leadership. I am your host, York Schmitz, and I welcome you to this episode. Decision making is at the heart of what leaders and managers do. And that's where biases and inequities are created, namely, in those patterns of decision making, and implicit assumptions that creep into those decisions and judgments that we make. Yet, education in unconscious bias has not necessarily been positively correlated with changing and improving decision making processes. So that's a bit of a dilemma. And it is precisely the word of an Barbara lemons that can fill those gaps, because it more intensively scrutinizes and engages people in the decision making processes and optimizing them for better results. It is my great pleasure to share with you the conversation that and Barbara and I had precisely about this topic, and to introduce her to you as a member of our institute, I know that you will benefit from her in depth understanding and view of judging, and precisely her insistence that we need to all learn to judge softly. Here is my conversation. So the other day, I was telling a friend who's also very, very much into the diversity and inclusion, kind of conversation. And I was sharing with her what we were doing today. And you know, the title of your company, the title of your book, you know, so judge softly. And her immediate reaction was, oh, how does that fit into inclusive leadership and what you're doing? Because aren't we not supposed to judge? So my question to you my first question is really, why should we judge softly? And Barbara?
Anne-Barbara Lemmens 2:17
Yeah. Well, you're that's that's a great example. And that's, I get that a lot. The question like Why judging softly? So it means I can actually judge Right? And, yes, let's start by saying that we all judge, it is universal. And what I also learned by doing my research is that we cannot not judge. So there is no way there's actually research about it, people have tried to prove that there are ways of, for example, meditating every day lots or any other sort of medication, even trying to solve the judging that we do, but there is no way so they couldn't prove. And so research says that we cannot not judge. So with judging softly, I mean, that we, but I want to want to tell people is that we all constantly respond subconsciously, right, based on our automatic pilots. And so by judging, I mean, every subconscious reaction, any situation. So it's mostly that subconscious reaction that happens in every situation, we get actually stuck in our own assumptions in our concepts that we all created ourselves, right in our illusionary worlds that we put labels on things, we put assumptions, expectations, and that is actually the judgments that's almost a judgment that we that stairs, everything that we do at stairs, our behavior, it stairs, our decision making it stairs, our communication or interaction with ourselves as well. So we hear those voices in our head saying, Would I have had or I should have done this, but then we lose sight of what else is out there, right? So we start to create our own tunnel vision. And that's, it's also the subtitle of my book. It's some it's from tunnel vision to wisdom. So what happens we're stuck in our tunnel vision, we focus on one point or one goal maybe in the future, or somewhere where we see it and, and we don't see what's broader, like the broader view of what's out there, and then has an influence on what I said right on decision making on how we perform in a team on how we lead. It's definitely has to do with leadership quality. It also has an impact on the culture within our organization, like how do we interact with each other? Well, if we all get stared by our own assumptions, which are judgments then imagine how it influences the culture in our in our organization, and it also influences our well being. So the well being of ourselves of how we deal with changes in ugliness in our organization, how we deal with With new situations, and most of the times, because we're so stuck in this tunnel vision, because deeper and deeper ingrained in his thinking, and it actually creates a lot of stress and burnout. So there's lots of subjects that hook into the judge softly. Environment almost. So that is what I, when I'm solving that Judge shuffling, I had an example of one of the participants in the workshop last week, where he mentioned when when we were talking about the consequences of our judgments, and he said, Oh, yeah, that's right. Now I realized that I had a boss, this boss was actually just left the company. But he said with this boss, he always reacted to me in a certain way that I felt sort of minor to him. So less than him, he always reacted in a way that I couldn't, that I couldn't bring up my idea, I had that feeling that there was a so what happens every time when he came into the room with his boss, or the boss came in a room, he fills in his whole body, and in his mind sort of closed. So he he was he really felt like a close communication, he almost felt like I can't say everything that I want to say. And it all was based actually on the assumption that this boss would always turn him down. But who knows what would have happened if this assumption if he didn't follow it, and would actually react in a different way and out of this tunnel vision, who knows, maybe the relationship got much better or huge bills. So that was an example of one of the participants in my workshop. And we had more consequences. So it's, I have actually a whole word cloud of words. There's many things I can mention some, like frustration exclusivity, there's the consequence can be one way conversations right? With this example of the boss who, yeah, there was really It happened that there was a one way conversation, miscommunication, and then we had stress. So again, we cannot not judge. But fortunately, there is this neuroplasticity, right? That we have and with that we can override our habits and our patterns. So by judging softly, I make people aware of the fact that we charge by make them aware of the consequences it has on your behavior, and then also become aware of and learn the choices that we have when we interact. And when we communicate. And when we lead or when we go operate in a team.
Joerg Schmitz 7:31
What I really like about this is I mean, but when I think of the leaders that I oftentimes deal with, I mean, obviously, leadership and judgment go hand in hand. Right? I mean, there's judgment going on all the time. And I think what you're saying is, rather than making judgment in itself, somewhat of a bad thing, that we actually need to understand, we are all here to judge. In a certain sense, maybe that's what our brains are designed to do, in a sense, with judging at multiple levels all the time, like the example you gave of the person who was judging the, his manager, right, in a certain sense, and this was even he was judging the managers judgmental attitude. So you're not so there are multiple layers of, of judgment going on. And what are we really feeling is that the judgment is unfair, right. It's not that we fear judgment, but that we fear unfair judgment. And and I think what you're alerting us to is that we need to learn to judge better actually, you know, to explore how we judge so that we don't fall trap into this what you call tunnel vision, right? There's and we I think we see this everywhere, right? The even the media and the media bubbles, keep us in a certain reality that that don't challenge us. And I mean, I've seen it in teams, like you've said group things sets in so so there is this, this team based tunnel vision. So I think alerting us to this. This feature of judgment, especially when we want to build our inclusive leadership muscles is a wonderful, wonderful addition that goes way beyond in my estimation, all this this Learning and Teaching around unconscious bias, right? Because the unconscious bias is just one of the areas that we need to become aware of and learn to manage.
Anne-Barbara Lemmens 9:29
Yeah, so Exactly. It's judging software is really judged consciously. So that that's exactly it's almost I can say it like that. And when you when you explain it like this, it's it's also another thought came to mind is that we also learn to get out of this short term view, right? It's short term vision. So when you judge and you're not aware of your judgments, then you get stuck in this tunnel vision which creates a search your short term view, right we See, it's also like you said in the world that's going on right now media, but also all the all the things that go on, that are going on in the world right now there is this tunnel vision that create short term and there's this based on that we are not able to look further than maybe even a day ahead. So that also helps by knowing that your judge, and as soon as you see that you judge, you're able to see the choices that you have. And sometimes because the arching is sometimes actually really good, right? It has, it's also it's something that we need, because otherwise we couldn't even live in this world. So it's not weird, with so many changing things are changing elements. But I think the fact that we that we can see the choices and that we can consciously make the decision, okay, I now go with my judgment, I let my judgment stare make me or no, this judgment might not even be right. Let me actually ask a little bit more, listen a little bit better. Well, there's many things that we can do to communicate more wisely, right and more compassionate. So that's the other way, then maybe at that point, you choose for debts choice at that moment.
Joerg Schmitz 11:09
I love this focus, and that you're bringing this focus to our, you know, exploration of inclusive leadership. So we're always curious how people, you know, talking about choices choose to focus on what they're focused on. Right. So I'm wondering how this how this area became your focus of your rich professional life. So you said, One day, I'm going to focus on judgment?
Anne-Barbara Lemmens 11:36
No, that is, thank you for your question. That's always an interesting sort of story. To me, at least I sometimes look back and I think, Oh, this is actually interesting how I came here. So I have a background in management consulting, I've worked over a decade for Deloitte, for Philips and FedEx, both in New York and in Amsterdam. And at some point in my life had a standstill in my life, I made a conscious decision to stop my career for a bit to take care of our two little daughters, we moved to New York for the second time in our lives. And I thought, well, you know what, this is actually due time by our daughters were three and one to take some time off with the kids and to see them growing up and to see them develop. And at that point in time, so I stopped my career, and I was home with the girls. And after a month, I got so unhappy. And it was really hard to me, because what I did, I judged myself saying, Come on, you're a mom, you love them, why aren't you able to actually enjoy this and enjoy every moment that you're with them? And actually, every moment that you missed in the last three years, I that fascinated me like what's happening right now, right, I was judging myself. And then I realized that my work had became my identity. So at that point, I didn't have work well, I worked with the with the girls, which is actually hard work sometimes as well. But there was no work. And then I realized that I thought I was I was nothing right? I didn't have an identity anymore. When people asked, What are you doing, I wasn't even able to face something. And I judged myself pretty hard. So that fascinated me. Then I started a company for women who stopped working so out of my own interest almost, and to help them to get back to work. And there I came across actually judgments against the women. So bias of women who had had stopped working for like five or 10 years and wanted to get back in. They had amazing resumes. But they the companies they I tried to link them with they weren't though they were interested in their story, but they didn't contract them. So then I had two stories for myself judging about myself judging about other so the women that wanted to get back to work. And I started to research because I said this is this is very interesting, this judgment points. And then I started to think back about my consulting career in the m&a deals that I did in the transformational projects. And I realized that the communication there was also always there was this, this sort of underlayer of judgments right that was going on, and there was also a lot of miscommunication. What I also saw is that in every changing environment, and there was a fast changing environment, like in m&a in m&a deals or in transformations, reorganizations that people started to behave differently, or they started to become very defensive, or they started to become very shy, or at least something happened in their behavior. So I did research. And it fascinated me so much that I thought I need to write a book about this because this is something that impacts everybody. If you're in consulting worlds, or if you're in total debt Since industry, it doesn't really matter. And then I also realized this is universal. So that was I wrote my book church softly from tunnel vision to wisdom, unfortunately, only in Dutch for now. And what I do now is then i. So what I wrote in my book is actually my own process of transforming to just shuffling. So I became aware of my judgments, I did a lot of self observation, I went into the mindfulness and meditation world where that really helped me to observe myself and to reflect on myself. And I learned more about the subconscious mind that's out there by meditating. And by practicing and teaching mindfulness. And so that whole process, I brought it together now in the company, jet shuffling. And so it's my life and work experience that come together, which is wonderful. I think, I really realized that when I talk to people, and I'm doing workshops with people that that it's really me, right, this is what I went through. So it's much easier to actually bring it across.
Joerg Schmitz 16:04
When that comes together. It's powerful, right? Because you've been talking about identity, you know, because I think that's, that happens to so many people. And I think, I mean, men or women, but I think men have been almost socialized into your job is your identity. And there, I think there are many men, many leaders that I meet, that are men that would have never thought of taking that step back and seeing what what is going on there. And it is a deep crisis that happens when that sense of identity disappears. But the job really is to transform our identity. Right? And, and I love that you were able to step back, observe this right and say, you know, Ooh, there's something interesting here, I need to study myself. That's what I'm hearing a little bit, you'll be in your own object of study.
Anne-Barbara Lemmens 16:56
Definitely. And it's funny, I also got the question. So do we all need to go through a crisis like you went through so this was then one of the crisis, I had another story, but I will, I will tell about that later. But it's too big to transform to church awfully right to be able to self reflect. And I found it a very interesting question. And I thought about it a little bit. And then I thought, You know what a crisis can be as big as being very unhappy or depressive isn't even. But a crisis can also be small. And it can be more something that you feel there's something going on, you get you're stuck in something maybe even stuck with your partner or with your team within your team or, or a colleague, it can be as small as death, right? Or a project that doesn't work well, and you don't know exactly what's going on or why. But that can be a little crisis as well, that can be the reason for doing some more research about yourself and some research on how you look at the world, right? How you see the world, how you perceive the world.
Joerg Schmitz 17:56
I mean, I am so excited that you're bringing this to the inclusive leadership institute, because I think it fits perfectly. The broader sense of inclusive leadership that this is all about, because just how you're saying, we need to judge more consciously, and reflect on, on our judgment on how we judge or ultimately, it's the choices that we make. inclusive leadership is all about reflecting on our leadership as well. And are we doing this? Am I doing this to create the kind of cultural environment that I want to create, you know, that is inclusive engages everyone enables multiple stakeholders and that works across differences. And it strikes me that part of what you're seeing is also that differences you know, in different could be workgroups, or teams or whatever they might be, have a lot to do with almost cultures of judgments that are being created and reinforced within those groups. I'm really excited about how we can apply and how this integrates.
Anne-Barbara Lemmens 19:03
Yeah, me too. And thank you for for including me in his Institute. I'm very and I want to compliment you as well for for setting this all up right for being having these Institute's it's, I think it's a great initiative.
Joerg Schmitz 19:16
Thank you and you will be doing a masterclass for us as well. Can you say a little more about that masterclass?
Anne-Barbara Lemmens 19:22
Yeah. So during this masterclass, I'd like to lead the listeners through the four phases of charging softly. So there's four phases that I actually, while writing, writing my book came across, right. So when you write it, then all sudden you see a structure and you think, oh my gosh, this is great. This is a method actually. So there's four phases. The first one is becoming aware of your judgments, which I realize now working with teams and with individuals that that is actually the hardest part of becoming aware of your subconscious judgments. Because the conscious wants Yeah, you know, that unconscious bias trainings, right? They have taught you maybe some already, but the subconscious ones are, it's not easy to, to detect them and to become aware of them. But that's the first phase. And then there's the second phase where we review the judgment. So we, I give you some tools on how to review them and to see where they came from. So what is the reason for them what cost the judgments that you have, then there is a phase of acceptance, and that has all to do with, even if you maybe already used the word accept, or if you you already feel maybe a little bit of a let go right? Like, okay, you can relax a little bit about the fact that you George, and that helps you to broaden your view. Because when you're relaxing you that actually helps you to break out of that tunnel vision. And then the fourth phase is to communicate wisely. So I will give you some tools on how to use all this in your daily life at work in your team. So when you listen to the master class, at the end, you will have already some tools in your toolkit that you can use immediately. Again, because we all charge and we do it so many times during the day, you can immediately use it at work at home anywhere.
Joerg Schmitz 21:15
That's great. So just as we're wrapping up this this episode, is there a one small thing because when you say we can immediately use it, do you have a one thing that we could all benefit from and do differently, that kind of makes an impact by by by shifting something in how we approach judging,
Anne-Barbara Lemmens 21:39
I think there's one that you can use immediately. And that is it has to do with becoming aware of the fact that you judge, it's actually it is almost like a two tier one. The second thing is, or the first one is, is that you really realize that you always charge that's one, so accept it, it's okay, you will always charge that's one. And then the second thing is when you're in conversation with somebody, and you will realize that when you're in a conversation with a new person, or in a changing environment, you will actually see that there's more judgments coming up. But in any situation, when you're communicating with somebody, when you're in an interaction with somebody, just try to really listen to that other person before you even start to vote. First of all, of course breaking in, that's one thing, try to not do it. But second of all, also become aware of the thoughts that you have while you're listening to this person. Because well, nine out of 10 times you will see that you're not really listening, because you're already thinking about the next thing that you wanted to say to that person or the next thing that you want to bring across, well, maybe that person is saying something very valuable, that is important for a decision that you want to make or for the whole interaction that you're in. Like just to summarize, the tip is when you're in an interaction with somebody tried to really listen, instead of already think about everything that you wanted to say next.
Joerg Schmitz 23:10
So that requires us to do a little bit of suspension of judgment as well. Right? Yeah, great. So, I mean, thank you for for just explaining a little bit about what's drudge software is all about. And I think there is such a great fit with what we're trying to do around inclusive leadership. So I am really looking forward to learning much more from you in this in this effort, so to create leaders, that Judge more conscientiously judge more softly in service of perhaps creating greater levels of equity and inclusiveness in this world. So thank you and Barbara for for just exploring that a little bit today.
Anne-Barbara Lemmens 23:52
Thanks for your I'm really looking forward to share much more information than in detail about your charting. Thank you so much.
Joerg Schmitz 24:06
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