Evelyn Chan, Harbinger’s Community and Communications Coordinator, tells about her experience and learning takeaways from The Change Leadership’s 2022 Conference.
On May 25th, I had the opportunity to attend The Change Leadership’s virtually-held 2022 conference. I dove into my first ever conference, not knowing what to expect, and perhaps less excited by the virtual format—but the event did not disappoint. With an interactive platform, live sessions that answered questions from the chat, and dynamic speakers, the conference was an absolute success and a pleasure to take part in. I attended three different sessions which offered insight into dealing with change and how to lead change today.
Session 1: Poetic Leadership in an Evolving World by Tucker Bryant
The first session I attended, which also happened to be the first session of the day, was entitled “Poetic Leadership in an Evolving World”. The speaker was Tucker Bryant, a poet who promotes the use of poetic techniques to lead change within your team. He spoke in prose with eloquent language and rhythm to his speech, all the while enlightening listeners on change through anecdotes and encouraging language. He asked attendees to reflect on their own change, its purpose, and its impact on others. Bryant’s approach was unique in that he encouraged individual self-reflection rather than classroom-style instruction.
Despite this interesting teaching approach based on introspection, Bryant still did leave his audience with three important points for effectively leading change in your team:
1. Constantly question your routines
Remember to take the time to actively step out of your own routines—your own perspective. Examine yourself and your team. Adopt the poet’s perspective to see your practices and habits with a skeptical mind. From there, you can break apart and rearrange your routines, critiquing them as if they weren’t your own. You’ll leave the experience with a fresh perspective and perhaps improved practices.
2. Imperfection will not be your downfall
Don’t let yourself get stuck on the first step. Don’t be afraid of the blank page, and just start, knowing that what you create will be imperfect. Imperfection is natural, so there’s sense in stalling because you’re waiting for perfection. Have faith in what you create, even though it is imperfect, because that’s the only way to start. Once you do get started, you can make your way towards improvement.
3. Offer reassurance to your team
As a change leader, it’s your responsibility to keep the team on board. This means leading and supporting them through change. Keeping your team moving in the same direction with the same goal and motivation is the mark of a great change leader.
Bryant’s main message revolved around the idea of adopting the poet’s mindset—being vulnerable and taking on an unconventional perspective to re-evaluate the steps you’re making towards change. Use poetic language, accept your imperfect efforts, and lead your team with the support they need. By becoming the poet, you can become a more effective change leader.
Session 6: Unlearning & Relearning – Becoming a Change Leader of the Future by Krista Schaber-Chan
This session, focused on the cycle of unlearning and relearning, was presented by Harbinger’s own Krista Schaber-Chan. In the New World of Work where everything is constantly evolving at a rapid pace, relearning has become essential to stay up-to-date on the newest practices, technology, etc. But relearning is not as simple as piling on more and more new information—you have to unlearn old information first.
In her talk, Krista listed four points to keep in mind during your process of unlearning and relearning:
1. Question Everything
Don’t let yourself remain stagnant in your practices. Keep questioning yourself and your surroundings so that you don’t get stuck believing in something that may not be true. Ask yourself whether your “truths” represent reality, or whether they’re beliefs you’ve merely accepted as truth over time. If you can question your ideas and beliefs, you can better adapt to changes that may come.
2. Be Curious
Similar to the last point, look around you and keep asking questions. While the former point meant this in an internal sense, being curious means also looking outside of yourself. Find the newest trends, look at what others are doing, and don’t stop relearning. There’s always more to improve in a world that’s constantly changing.
3. Have Humility and Let Go of the Ego
In order to unlearn to then relearn, you have to embrace humility and let go of your ego. Unlearning means accepting faults and knowing that there are better ways of doing things. If you can keep this mindset in mind, you’ll be less resistant to the idea of relearning and the process will go much more smoothly.
4. Have Patience
Change takes time, which can feel frustrating. Have patience and know that relearning is a constant effort that can’t be accomplished in a single day. Be open to any change that may come your way, because it will, and you should be ready to accept it when it does.
Krista offered a great example for relearning: children. Children are constantly growing and adapting to their surroundings by unlearning and relearning. Arguably, nobody is ever fully-grown since there’s always room for improvement, especially when the world keeps shifting around you. So, adopting the child’s growing capabilities is a good way to mould ourselves around our changing environments.
Session 7: Navigating DEIB & Mental Health in the Workplace
With Harriet Ekperigin, Karen Restoule, Dr. Akolisa Ufodike & Jahanzaib Ansari
My last session of the day was a panel discussion with Q&A on DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging) and mental health in the workplace. Leading the panel was Harriet Ekperigin, mental health expert and Vice President of Green Shield. The three panelists were: Karen Restoule, CEO at Shared Value Solutions, Dr. Akolisa Ufodike, Assistant Professor at York University and Finance Executive, and Jahanzaib Ansari, Co-Founder and CEO of Knockri.
The panel discussed multiple issues, but touched on some key points that stood out to me:
1. DEIB Can Become a Burden to those Impacted
While DEIB is certainly a positive model to implement in your organization, it’s important to make sure that people do not feel burdened because of their association to certain groups. For example, women, BIPOC, and any other marginalized group should not feel personally responsible for their company’s diversity and inclusion practices. If people choose to participate in activities promoting this type of inclusion, it has to be of their own volition. If they choose not to engage for whatever reason (such as completely valid mental health reasons or unpleasant experience), it’s perfectly alright. Being from a marginalized group should not add an additional job to your everyday work.
2. Organizations Set the Tone
Ultimately, it’s up to the organization or company to set the right tone with its employees concerning issues of mental health and DEIB. Leaders must be aware of the environments they live in and foster within their own teams. Creating strong relationships through empathy is a strong mark of leadership. You as the leader are exemplifying the culture you’d like to see.
In closing, the panel brought forth the idea that prioritizing mental health and DEIB is in fact a long-term investment in employees. Positive culture and work environments conducive to mental health are not a waste, and will keep you and your team moving forward for a long time to come.
What was my biggest takeaway?
My two major takeaways from the conference were: 1) Be mindful of yourself and 2) Be mindful of others. Change happens across the board, from something as miniscule as your personal habits to your organization’s entire management. Leading change effectively means knowing yourself, including your strengths and weaknesses, but also knowing those around you and empathizing with their individual situations. Everyone has unique circumstances. Understanding this fact and internalizing it in all your interactions is crucial in becoming an effective leader of any sort.
Communications and Community Coordinator