281: Tim Clark – The Importance of Psychological Safety in the Workplace
Tim Clark Discusses How People in Organizations Can Feel Psychologically Safe
Tim Clark Show Notes Page
Going through this current pandemic, Tim Clark learned that a crisis has the unique ability to liquify the status quo. There is always an opportunity in the calamity. Take advantage of the current state we’re in and shift the culture now while it’s in a fluid state.
Tim was born in Utah and raised in Colorado, California, and Utah. He is the oldest of five children with two brothers and two sisters. His birth order thrust him into leadership development by age two when his next youngest sibling was born. Changing diapers and trying to keep the peace with his rowdy siblings cemented that career choice.
Tim grew up in a variety of diverse environments. He spent his early years in Durango, Colorado among the Navajo, the second largest Native American tribe next to the Cherokee, where his father worked as a teacher. He then moved to Los Angeles and lived on a street with incredible ethnic diversity. These formative experiences inspired him to seek out and appreciate human differences and culture and think about leadership in a global context. He has since spent time living in both Asia and Europe.
Tim took a football scholarship out of high school to Brigham Young University where he became a first-team Academic All-American football player. He learned two important statistics while attending college and playing football: First, there was a 100% chance that you would be injured if you play major college football. Second, you had less than a 1% chance of having a fruitful professional football career in the NFL. Both statistics proved accurate. He did get hurt and his NFL dreams went up in smoke. Fortunately, he decided to go to class and do his homework.
His study habits paid off as he eventually completed a Ph.D. at Oxford University in Social Science. But instead of pursuing an academic career, Tim took the business route, worked several years in manufacturing and then as the CEO of two consulting organizations before starting his own firm, LeaderFactor, 13 years ago. He is grateful to have the opportunity to work with leaders and teams from all over the world. He greatest source of satisfaction is to help others discover and act on their full potential. As he frequently admonishes the CEOs he works with, “Act as if you have no power.” He believes that organizations begin to gain a glimpse of their potential when they become culturally flat and their leaders become truly humble.
Tim lives in the Salt Lake City area with his wife Tracey and their children.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“The patterns of psychological safety are universal. They cut across cultural boundaries.” – Click to Tweet
“Psychological safety means it’s not expensive to be yourself in a social setting.” – Click to Tweet
“You need the highest level of psychological safety in order to innovate.” – Click to Tweet
“Innovation by its nature is disruptive of the status quo.” – Click to Tweet
“We can’t afford to miss or not acknowledge the humanity and the personal human connection that is vital.” – Click to Tweet
“If people feel the organization doesn’t value them then it’s the beginning of the end.” – Click to Tweet
“EX drives CX. Your employee experience drives your customer experience.” – Click to Tweet
“A fear-stricken team will give you their hands, they’ll give you some of their head, and they’ll give you none of their heart.” – Click to Tweet
“The number one things that gets in the way in organizations is the insecurity of the leaders themselves.” – Click to Tweet
“You can’t gimmick your way to good leadership.” – Click to Tweet
“Psychological safety is a function of the fusion of the respect and the permission that the environment is giving you.” – Click to Tweet
“The most important learning pattern that you can demonstrate in an organization is to be an aggressive, self-directed learner.” – Click to Tweet
“A lack of psychological safety is the number one biggest social and interpersonal barrier to innovation.” – Click to Tweet
“Psychological safety is the great enabler for innovation.” – Click to Tweet
“Lead as if you have no power.” – Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Going through this current pandemic, Tim Clark learned that a crisis has the unique ability to liquify the status quo. There is always an opportunity in the calamity. Take advantage of the current state we’re in and shift the culture now while it’s in a fluid state.
Advice for others
Learn to coach people one-on-one.
Holding him back from being an even better leader
Taking my mindfulness to a higher level.
Best Leadership Advice
Leadership is about influence. Influence is the single best synonym for leadership in the English language.
Secret to Success
Aggressive, self-directed learning.
Best tools in business or life
Being able to ask questions in an effective way with other people.
Contacting Tim Clark
LeaderFactor LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/leaderfactor/
LeaderFactor Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leaderfactor/
Jim Rembach (00:00):
Okay, fast leader Legion. I’m excited because today I have somebody on the show. Who’s going to take something that could be perceived as very practical and simple, and really peel it back to reveal the complexities so that you can move onward and upward, faster. Timothy R. Clark was born in Utah and raised in Colorado, California, and Utah. He is the oldest of five children with two brothers and two sisters. His birth order thrust him into leadership development by age two, when his next youngest sibling was born, changing diapers and trying to keep the pace with his rowdy sibling siblings cemented that career choice. Tim grew up in a variety of diverse environments. He spent his early years in Durango, Colorado among the Navajo, the second largest native American tribe. Next to the Cherokee where his father worked as a teacher, he then moved to Los Angeles, Los Angeles, and lived on a street with incredible ethnic diversity.
Jim Rembach (00:54):
These formative experiences inspired him to seek out and appreciate human differences and culture. And think about leadership in a global context. He has since spent time living in both Asia and Europe. Tim took a football scholarship out of high school to Brigham young university, where he became a first team, academic, all American football player. He learned two important statistics while attending college and playing football. First, there was a hundred percent chance that you’d be injured. If you play major college football, second, you had less than 1% chance of having a fruitful professional NFL career. Both statistics proved accurate and he did get hurt. And his NFL dreams went up in smoke. Fortunately, he decided to go to class and do his homework. His study habits paid off as he eventually completed a PhD at Oxford university in social science, but instead of pursuing an academic career, Tim took the business route working as a research director, VP of operations and CEO before starting his own firm leader factor 13 years ago, Tim is the author of several books, including the four stages of psychological safety, defining the path to inclusion and innovation. Tim currently lives in the salt Lake city area with his wife, Tracy and their children. Tim Clark, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Tim Clark (02:11):
Ready? Thanks Jim.
Jim Rembach (02:13):
Oh, you’re welcome. And I’m glad you’re here now. I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you, but can you share what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?
Tim Clark (02:22):
Well, my current passion is, is the book, right, which we just released and the most fascinating thing Jim about this is that I’m getting messages from I’m getting emails from all parts of the world. And I had no idea this would resonate. For example, this week I’ve gotten messages from Australia, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan. And what that’s doing is it’s telling me it’s confirming that these patterns of psychological safety and the needs that we have as humans and organizations, they really universal. They cut across cultural boundaries and all demographic boundaries. And so I’m, I’m pretty excited about that right now.
Jim Rembach (03:09):
Well, and to kind of clarify, and I talk about this being what is perceived to be somewhat practical and simple. I mean, a lot of us have heard in the news things associated with psychological safety, even in my area of the country, I’m in North Carolina, they talk in my area about food safety. You know, that’s a psychological safety element, but the four, um, particular psychological safety elements, uh, stages that you talk about are inclusion, safety, learners, safety, contributors, safety, and challenger safety. So, but from your perspective, um, help us understand what these, these four areas really are.
Tim Clark (03:48):
Sure. Well, let’s let me just step back a little bit general. Let’s talk about the basic concept. So psychological safety means that it’s not expensive to be yourself in a social setting, in, in an organization on a team, whatever the social collective is that you feel free and able to be yourself. When you, when you feel that way, then you will be yourself. If you don’t feel safe, psychologically safe, then that fear will change your behavior. And that’s what we know from the research. And so let’s just think about this through a customer experience, a CX lens. If you’re in an environment and someone has pushed the fear button, what that does is it triggers what we call the self censoring instinct. And so rather than, uh, rather than perform at our best, what do we do? We recoil, we withdraw and we manage personal risk, which is a completely normal thing to do because we’re adaptable creatures.
Tim Clark (04:58):
When we go into a social environment, we engage even subconsciously in what we call threat detection. So we’re looking around and we’re feeling what? So what’s the vibe here? Is it safe? Can I be myself? Right? So that’s why stage one is what we call inclusion safety. The first thing that people are concerned about when they, when they move into a new team or they’re in a new social environment or organization, the first thing is do I fit in? Am I included? How have I been accepted? So that’s stage one. And the reason it’s stage one is because it follows the pattern of basic human need. It’s satisfies that basic human need. If you don’t satisfy that you don’t pass go. You don’t move on. So inclusion safety is always the foundation. It’s always stage one. You only go to stage two. Stage two is learner safety.
Tim Clark (05:56):
Learner safety means that I can learn. I can engage in the discovery process. I can ask questions. I can give and receive feedback. I can experiment. I can even make mistakes again, without fear that I’ll be embarrassed or marginalized or punished in some way. So that’s stage two. Then we’re going to stage three. Stage three is contributor safety, contributor. Safety means I’ve learned. So now I want to apply what I’ve learned, my skills, my experience, my knowledge, to make a difference and to contribute into the value creation process. I want to be able to make a difference. Humans have that inherent, that innate need. They want to make a difference at state street and then stage four. And this is where it becomes very interesting. Stage four, as you said, has challenged your safety, which means I feel I feel free. I feel safe to challenge the status quo again, without jeopardizing my standing or my reputation. Now that puts me at the very highest level of vulnerability. So I need the highest level of psychological safety to protect me because I’m taking on the status quo, but that’s exactly what we need to be able to do if we’re going to innovate because innovation by its very nature is disruptive of the status quo. So in a nutshell, those are the four stages.
Jim Rembach (07:22):
Well, and as I said, you, you, you made, you made, you put depth to those, to what seems to be, you know, somewhat simple, uh, and a greater context so that we can hopefully change some of our behavior behaviors. And we’ll get into that in a second, but as you were talking, and I start even thinking about the first stage where you’re talking about inclusion and going down the path, I started even thinking about the way that we measure people’s performance, especially in a contact center environment. You know, it it’s, it’s very much, you know, statistic based. It’s very much, you know, hitting KPIs. It’s very much about what you did wrong. It’s fair. And so therefore it becomes a situation where, you know, we take that inclusiveness out. I can’t be myself cause I always have to now start quoting policy. Um, Oh, when you start looking at how we go about putting in, you know, some of those quality improvement initiatives, how we go about, you know, setting an expectation and delivering the expectation, and then you have another issue which deals about the person now it’s that while I’m not a real secure person, you know, I’m always on shaky ground and I have problems feeling like I’m included.
Jim Rembach (08:30):
How do you make all that work?
Tim Clark (08:32):
Well, you make a really good point, Jim, for example, in, if you’re in a highly metrics driven environment, then the way that we manage those environments normally is by looking for negative variance. So we look at all of our KPIs, we look at all of our metrics and we say, where are we off? And so we do a negative variance analysis. And then we hone in on that. When we say what’s going on, what happened? You need to go fix that. Now that’s the quantitative side and that’s very important and we have to do that, but we’re often missing the qualitative side, which is where we really provide the extra value that distinguishes us in our service and in the customer experience that we’re creating. And so we can’t, we can’t afford to miss or not acknowledge the humanity and the personal human connection. That is so vital. So I just think it’s a matter of balancing that you have to do that because if you don’t have time, what happens is people say, you know what, I’m just a number I don’t really matter. And I don’t really count. And if they start to feel that way, because the organization may feel that the organization doesn’t really value them that way, then that’s the beginning of the end. It’s always the beginning of the end. Right.
Jim Rembach (10:02):
But that’s kind of funny to say that. I always mentioned that when you start talking about the whole concept of employee engagement and I’m like, well, did you hire them that way? Did you hire up disengaged? No, you didn’t. Right. They were all excited, you know, starting something new they wanted to perform well. So then what happens over time that caused them to say some of the things that you’re talking about, like the beginning of the end,
Tim Clark (10:25):
right? And then it goes back to the research that says, E X drive CX, your employee experience drives your customer experience. You don’t have a unhappy employees that are delivering phenomenal customer experiences. It doesn’t work that way. Right? So it, at the end of the day, we realized that you can’t fake it gimmicks. Aren’t going to get it done. They’re not going to retain your people. And they’re not going to enable the organization to consistently deliver an outstanding customer experience. It doesn’t work that way.
Jim Rembach (11:02):
Well, and even when you’re talking about this, I start thinking about it as an organizational level, at an organizational level, we have some of these important strategic KPIs. And then by the time they get filtered down to the frontline, you know, and, and the way that they get interpreted as far as how you apply them in order to get to those numbers is quite different than what was expected. And I talk about this connection of the head and the feet, right? And that the more, the further away, you know, the more disconnection. And so then you have the whole lot of metrics driven type of management, you know, of people. And I always talk about managing metrics and leading people. And there are two very different things. But when you start looking at the whole metric component and the people component, it’s the front line leader, that is the critical linchpin in all of that.
Tim Clark (11:48):
It is, it is let let, let me, uh, I’m glad you said that Jen, let me state a principle that comes the book, but I think a lot of your viewers and listeners will resonate with, so this is the principle in the book, and it says that a fear stricken team. So I want you to think about the teams that we work on. An end of fear stricken team will give you their hands. They’ll give you some of their head and they’ll give you none of their heart. That’s what you get. So when the employees start to disengage and if they don’t feel, if they don’t feel a psychological safety, then that’s the exchange. That’s, that’s what you’re going to get. You’re going to get their hands. You’re going to get some of their head and none of their heart, what kind of customer experience can you deliver with that combination? It’s not going to be what you want.
Jim Rembach (12:44):
It’s definitely not going to be what they expected to happen when they’re making those decisions at the top level of the organization and why we see those statistics associated with, you know, the people at the top, think we’re delivering an excellent customer experience. And then the customer saying, Oh, no, you’re not
Tim Clark (12:57):
right. That’s right. That’s exactly right.
Jim Rembach (13:01):
Okay. So I think a really key element in all this is in the book, you talk about cracking yourself open. What does that mean?
Tim Clark (13:11):
So what I mean by that is that we take the, we conduct a, a very penetrating unsparing inventory of ourselves, particularly as leaders, because after all we set the tone, right? If you’re in any kind of leadership or managerial position, you set the tone, you’re responsible more than anybody else to establish the prevailing norms on your team. And so you have to ask yourself these very candid questions that we talked about related to the stages. So do your team members feel included? Do they feel safe to learn? Do they feel safe to contribute at full capacity? And do they feel safe to challenge the status quo, which is the hardest one, but those four questions, those are diagnostic questions that any leader can ask himself or herself. And so that’s what I mean by crack yourself open, Oh, those answering those questions really reveals how you’re doing as a leader.
Jim Rembach (14:17):
Well, and I’d like to run through those questions real quick. So you say, do you believe that all men and women are created equal and there’s, hold on, let me do that again. I heard you on that one. Hold on. So let me go ahead and ask a reveal. Those questions are, because I think it’s important to put those in context. So, uh, first question is, do you believe that all men and women are created equal and do you accept others and welcome them into your safety simply because they possess a flesh and blood, even if their values are different from your that’s question, one question two is without bias or discrimination, do you encourage others to learn and grow? And do you support them in that process, even when they lack confidence and make mistakes, number three, do you grant others maximum autonomy to contribute in their own way as they demonstrate their ability to deliver results? And number four, do you consistently invite others to challenge the status quo in order to make things better? And are you personally prepared to be wrong based on the humility and learning mindset you have developed? And of course those are mapped to the four stages.
Jim Rembach (15:28):
And so what we have to be able to do is ask those questions and then therefore create some type of action and behavior modification of that goes into that. And that’s so when y’all got to start thinking about that, and you have a lot of stories in the book where, you know, these things have occurred, um, I start thinking of humps and roadblocks associated with those. Uh, so if I start thinking about these stages, where do people often have the greatest level of pause and time spent to move to the next stage?
Tim Clark (15:57):
Well, I think the biggest, the biggest barrier, the biggest hump initially Jim, is when we go, we move right into stage one inclusion safety, because we have to, this is where we really have to crack ourselves open because we were all dripping with bias and we’ve got to become more self aware of what our biases are. And so the number one thing that gets in the way in organizations is the insecurity of the leaders themselves. That’s number one. So we, the leaders get in their own way because of their bias, which is attached to their insecurity. And so what we do is we, we govern ourselves with, as I say, in the book with junk theories of superiority, we tell ourselves soothing stories. So for example, how many leaders do you know that hide behind title, position and authority? Well, that’s ridiculous. As soon as you’re doing that, you’ve abdicated leadership.
Tim Clark (16:56):
You’re not leading anymore. You’re hiding behind the artifacts that the organization gave you. Your real job is to support people and encourage them and guide them and direct them to influence them in legitimate ways. So we can see that we are ego needs get in the way or insecurity gets in the way our bias gets in the way. So that’s the first big roadblock. That’s the first big barrier that we’ve got to eliminate so that I come to my team and I don’t need to hear myself talk. I can lead more through questions than answers. I don’t need to be the repository of answers. I’ve shed the old industrial mindset that it’s leader as Oracle, you know, this Imperial model of leadership that absolutely is not going to work in the new decade. So these are the first obstacles that I see Jim.
Jim Rembach (17:55):
Well, and as you’re saying that, I start thinking about not just me being aware of that. I also have to be overt, you know, and, and tell people that these are biases, that everybody needs to be aware of.
Tim Clark (18:06):
That’s right. That’s right.
Jim Rembach (18:09):
Cause oftentimes when you start talking about the whole word inclusion, so to me, I see a lot of ironies in that because I see people who are talking about inclusion in themselves are not creating it.
Tim Clark (18:21):
That’s exactly right. They are, they are not modeling inclusive behavior and they are still really afflicted with bias. And a lot of it’s hidden. Some of it’s not hidden. They’re just, they’re still hanging onto it. But until they really shed that, it’s going to be an obstacle because you can’t gimmick your way to good leadership. People can smell your intent, they can smell it. And so we, we, we tend to elevate ourselves to subordinate others and, and we do that, right. Uh, because we’re insecure. And so when you find a leader that reaches this point of overcoming that it’s incredibly refreshing, and what you’ll find is the team will go to the wall for that person, because the intent is correct. The ego needs have been subordinated, and now we can get to work. We can do incredible things together. And so when you find leaders that can do that, it’s, it’s absolutely amazing.
Jim Rembach (19:30):
Well, you know, you say fine leaders that can do that. Um, to me, there’s an old, there’s a story that I heard something associated with. Uh, it was like many times in business. We talk about an athletics scenario, right. Um, and they talk about sustainable organizations that can be champions and that you can’t buy your way, unless you’re the New York Yankees and to having a world series. Right. Um, don’t have, don’t have the big media market thing. So how do you actually, you know, create a team that has that kind of bench strength, uh, when you can’t buy it, I mean, it’s not like it’s not finding to me developing
Tim Clark (20:10):
no you’re and you’re right. And you’re absolutely right. So I go back to what are the two primary levers that any leader has because they’re always the same number one you’re modeling behavior. And we know this based on the entire body of social psychology research, the biggest influence that you have is based on your modeling behavior. That’s number one, number two are your coaching skills in one-on-one interactions. Those are your two levers. Everything else is secondary. Everything else is what we call scaffolding, your metrics, your, your, your training, your resources, everything else is secondary to those two things. And so you have to, you have to get those two things, right? If you don’t get those two things, right, you cannot compensate for what you lack in your own modeling behavior and your coaching skills. Nothing else will compensate for that. It doesn’t matter what else you have.
Jim Rembach (21:13):
Well, and throughout the book, you’re helping to address those issues, where you have keys and concepts and questions that are just riddled throughout. And one of my favorites, key concepts that you reveal in the book is something that you talk about a leader’s task being to simultaneously increase intellectual friction and decrease social friction. What does that really mean?
Tim Clark (21:38):
So that’s the way that I framed the leader’s job, Jim, because if you think about it, we’re trying to get all the way to stage four challenger safety, where we can challenge the status quo and where we can innovate. That’s really the realm where you innovate. That’s where you create an incubator of innovation. Well, how does innovation happen? Innovation is primarily a social process and it happens through creative abrasion and constructive dissent. That means ideas are colliding. They’re rubbing against each other. And we’re engaged in hard hitting debate. We have to discuss issues on their merits. We have to be able to have marvelous disagreements. So we, we need that. How do you do that? So that means the leader’s job is to simultaneously increase intellectual friction. That’s what I’m talking about. We need the intellectual friction, but at the same time, reduce the social friction because of the social friction rises with the intellectual friction.
Tim Clark (22:38):
Eventually the social friction will shut off and block the intellectual friction. We won’t be able to improve or innovate anymore. So the very skilled leader learns to reduce the social friction and increase the intellectual friction at the same time. How do you do that? Well, first you got to model the right behaviors. You’ve got to instill the right values in the organization. You have to forbidden personal attacks. So there are behavioral boundaries in terms of engagement that you establish and you reinforce every day because that psychological safety is dynamic and it’s delicate, right? You can violate that. And then you can start to destroy that psychological safety very, very quickly. So that’s the leader’s job increase intellectual friction, decreased social friction.
Jim Rembach (23:33):
Okay. So then when we talk about this being a path, um, I start thinking, do I have to go in the order as you lay it out, you talk about the inclusion, safety being the most important, but then I have learner safety, contributors, safety, you know, and the whole challenge is safety. I mean, it, is it one, two, three, four, yeah. Focus on, on, on that way.
Tim Clark (23:54):
So I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you what is absolutely sequential. Number one is inclusion safety. It’s your foundation. That’s your basic human need and challenge. Your safety is definitely the culminating stage because it’s the hardest thing to do to challenge the status quo. So it does, it always is the culminating stage, the most, the most difficult stage you do initially you do have to learn before you can contribute, but after you do initial learning those two in the middle, um, they are mutually reinforcing. You learn, and then you contribute, you contribute. And then you learn because we’re in a dynamic environment, the fundamental sequence is true and it’s empirically validated over and over again. But those two stages in the middle, you can see kind of the, the, uh, the reciprocal nature of those two.
Jim Rembach (24:56):
Well, at each stage, you talk about respect, permission, and social exchange. What does that really mean?
Tim Clark (25:04):
So psychological safety is a function of the fusion of the respect and the permission that the environment that the organization is giving you. Right? So if you think about, if I feel psychologically safe, I have to feel a level of respect, and I have to feel a level of permission to be able to behave and do and participate and learn. So it’s those two things coming together. And so by the time you get to challenge your safety, your respect, and your permission have come to the highest levels, which also corresponds to your highest level of vulnerability. Now, you, you mentioned social exchange in each stage, the, the social exchange between the individual and the organization is a little bit different. So for example, let’s take inclusion, safety stage one, the exchange is there’s actually no performance requirement of me in stage one. I just have to be human and I have to be harmless.
Tim Clark (26:09):
So that’s what I contribute. And in exchange for that, I am accepted. I’m included. I, I gained a sense of belonging. So that’s the social exchange. If you go to stage two learner safety, the exchange is different. Now there’s a performance requirement for me. I have to engage in the learning process in exchange for encouragement in the learning process. Now, this is quite interesting, and you’ve probably experienced this yourself, Jim, in your career, where you, people that you’re managing you’re leading and they need to learn. They need to develop, but they don’t have the confidence to do it. So they’re very reluctant. They bring a lot of inhibition and anxiety to the learning process. And so what that tells us is that as a leader, you need to be the first mover. You need to encourage the learning. Before you expect people to engage in the learning. You may have to hold their confidence for them until they can gain it themselves because they don’t come with that confidence. That makes sense.
Jim Rembach (27:17):
I mean, as you’re saying it, it does cause you’re saying it, but I mean, for me, I can’t, I can’t think that way for me, it’s, I’ve always been trying to, you know, focus on things to learn. I mean, that’s why I’ve been podcasting for sure. That’s why, I mean, so for me, it’s conceptual and like, that’s just too way odd for me,
Tim Clark (27:34):
but that, but you’re, but you’re not like most people in that respect because, because if you think about it, there are many people that come into an organization or they come onto a team and they are, uh, they’re not confident, right? They’re reluctant, they’re inhibited. They are, they’re shy. They’re not, they’re passive. And so they need a little bit of help. And one of the case studies in the book, Jim, you may remember is that when we talk about learner safety, I cite this statistic that every 26 seconds in America, the student drops out of high school. Well, why are they dropping out? That’s a tragedy. Most of these students don’t have some learning disability. They drop out because what we know is that the learning process is both intellectual and emotional. Those two things are interwoven. And so if a student becomes emotionally bruised, emotionally hurt, they can’t learn at full capacity. And so they lose hope and eventually they call it quits. That’s no different in the workplace. There are people that feel the same way. And so they need, they need to experience small wins, small gains to gain their confidence, and then they can engage a little bit more in a little bit more. Okay.
Jim Rembach (29:04):
Okay. So as you’re talking about that, I can see the one side of it. Um, but then you, but you also to me and put that in context of, um, the whole, the learn, the learning aspect. And so for me, when are you saying that those people in that situation, if they were given the opportunity and the expectation set, you know, to learn certain things that they would actually choose not to?
Tim Clark (29:29):
Yes. Sometimes they choose not to. And so, so think about that. And this goes back to some, some, some research that I’ve done in the past, which is think about the learning and habits that people have. So here’s what we know about learning in 2020 in this decade, the most important, the most important learning pattern that you can demonstrate in an organization is to be an aggressive self-directed learner. Well, unfortunately, a lot of people are not like that in organizations, a lot of people are on what we call education, welfare, where they are waiting and relying on the machinery of the organization to carry them along. That is incredibly dangerous in 2020, because you’re relying on the institution to give you your curriculum, to tell you what skills you need to develop to identify your gaps and help you close the gaps. That’s wonderful if they’ll do that. But an organization always has the secondary role. The individual always has the primary role for professional development. So, but not everyone has that aggressive self directed learning, disposition and mindset.
Jim Rembach (30:52):
Well, thanks for sharing that perspective. I mean, so for me, that, that opened up a lot of things, both professionally and personally, quite frankly. Um, so when I start thinking about, um, what you call a blue zone and red red zone disruptors, I think part of this absolutely fits into that. But if you can please explain what those are.
Tim Clark (31:12):
Sure. So there’s the disposition of the, of the individual to learn and perform, but then there’s the environment. So blue on red zone. These are, these are terms that we use to describe what’s happening in the environment as it relates to psychological safety. So in a red zone, that means that there are fear indicators. Okay. So we’re, we’re, we’re looking around and we’re doing threat detection and someone’s pushing a fear button in some way. And so what that creates it restarts to reduce the psychological safety. If it reduces far enough, we actually enter a toxic zone, which is red. And that means, so what’s that, what’s that going to induce in? People’s going to induce behaviors of withdrawal. Uh, and so what they’re going to manage personal risk, uh, self-preservation loss prevention. That’s, that’s the mode that they’re going to go into because they’re in a red zone and it’s not safe.
Tim Clark (32:24):
And there really is the threat of personal loss or punishment or embarrassment or marginalization. If those, if those threats are perceived to be real, then in a red zone, people are going to behave way. So the behavioral consequences are incredible. Now it even goes beyond that. Let’s talk about customer experience. So Harvard did a 12 year study to understand the ramifications of low psychological safety. They did a survey of employees, 25% of employees in a red zone. They admitted that they would take out their frustrations on customers. So that’s, so now we see the unintended consequences of a lack of psychological safety. [inaudible] the unintended consequences are profound. So that’s what happens in red zone.
Jim Rembach (33:18):
Okay. So even when you’re talking and I start thinking about these other studies, that I’ve, that I’ve come across my desk and there was this one study that started talking about IQ levels. Um, and if you think about IQ, a lot of it has to do with focus, right. And it also has to do with the red zone stuff. So if I feel that, can I really do the thinking? And I think this is why you talk about it leading up to the whole innovation innovative components. Because I can’t, I can’t think because I’m too worried about something, right. Where they’re even talking about your IQ will drop like 10 points when you have to go to the bathroom, because you’re thinking about, I gotta go, I gotta go. I gotta go. Not I’m in
Tim Clark (33:59):
that’s. Right. And that shows you again, the interplay between the head and the heart, the intellectual track and the emotional track. So if the emotional track of your inner state of, of self preservation, if you’re in a safe state of personal risk management, are you focusing the way that you could not, not, not remotely. So you cannot perform, you are impaired in your ability to perform.
Jim Rembach (34:29):
Okay. Um, and I mentioned this before we started recording. And, uh, I think it’s, it’s a good place that we can, we should talk about, um, because we’ve been spattering it throughout our conversation, but ultimately going down this path removes the human constraints that are associated with innovation, but to what degree,
Tim Clark (34:50):
well, what we do know based on research is that the number one barrier to innovation is culture. And then if we deconstruct that and we ask ourselves, what is it about culture that gets in the way, it’s the lack of psychological safety? Now we can’t put a hard number on it, but we do believe based on all of the research that we’re doing, that a lack of psychological safety is the number one biggest barrier, social and interpersonal barrier to innovation on any team. Now, there are other things that we need to have. We need direction, we need vision, we need a strategy. We need, we need resources. We need all of those things. But if culture is broken, if people can’t work together, if they don’t have kind of the lubricating oil of collaboration to work together, to solve problems and to come up with solutions, it’s not going to happen. So the psychological safety becomes the great enabler of innovation or its absence becomes the great inhibitor of innovation. And I don’t know any other way around that.
Jim Rembach (36:05):
It’s a definitely a cornerstone, uh, element in all of this. Okay. So when I start thinking about all this and all this human dynamic element and all these elements, uh, you, you have to have some of that focus and inspiration and vision. You talked about all that. One of the ways that we try to find those things is through quotes on the show. Is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?
Tim Clark (36:28):
Well, I’ll, I’ll share a, I’ll share a statement that I’ve kind of synthesized as I’ve been, um, in the research literature now for many, many years, and your listeners and viewers may find this valuable to some degree. And, and it’s, it’s, it’s a very, it’s a very short statement lead as if you have no power. And so I would leave that with your listeners, because what it means is it starts to help you understand that, forget about let’s clear the decks of title, position, and authority, and all that, all of the accessories that we gained from the organization, and let’s focus on pure, positive influence and where that comes from. So we’re going to be agnostic to all those other things. So if you think that way, it, it helps you, it helps you understand the power of psychological safety in creating this enabling environment. How do I foster that? How do I cultivate that? How do I reinforce it? And then, and then I real, and then here’s the companion concept. The companion concept is that I, as a leader, or you as a leader, every leader out there, you cannot be a neutral actor. You’re going to lead the way or you’re going to get in the way. So what are you going to do? It’s that this, this, ultimately, this is a decision that we have to, to face and own every day.
Jim Rembach (38:04):
No, as you say that, I start thinking about some of those folks where you almost need to say that to them, but I now worry, you know, is that something that I should even say, meaning that I need you to lead, or you need to get out of the way? I mean, right. You know, sometimes you just have, I mean, do you have to be, you know, that clear or you’re saying avoid that?
Tim Clark (38:24):
No, I think you have to be pretty explicit, but it’s not it’s because it’s something that it shouldn’t be, uh, it shouldn’t be something that causes people to become defensive. It’s universal to all of us, we all share this it’s, this is the human condition. If you’re in any kind of leadership role, then by virtue of your role, you are going to lead the way and be a net positive, or you’re going to get in the way and be a net negative one. One of those two things is going to happen because you cannot be neutral. And so I think just acknowledging that in our conversations and in our coaching discussions is extremely helpful. It’s, it’s the reality that we all have to work with.
Jim Rembach (39:13):
It is, it definitely is our reality. And I would dare to say, a lot of people have been forced into a new reality because all this COVID stuff and then have found themselves where they haven’t been part of the development. Haven’t been part of that, right. Culture hadn’t been, and now they find themselves affected or infected in a way that they never suspected that’s right. So when I start thinking about all this and these learnings and your experiences and all that stuff, I’m sure, you know, you’ve had in some cities where you’ve had to get over the hump and a great lesson was learned that could be shared and learned by others. Is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share?
Tim Clark (39:51):
Wow, I’m one of those I think is happening right now, Jim, during this pandemic, and this is, uh, this is a lesson that I learned. Well, it was, it was a research finding that we learned a long time ago in school, but I’m learning it at a deep human level today. And that is that a crisis has the ability has this unique ability to liquefy the status quo. So, so let’s think about the status quo in every organization. What happens in organizations is that the status quo the way we do things. It becomes fossilized over time. It gets hard, right? It calcifies. And then we know we need to change it because we need to be adaptable. We, you can’t be competitive and you can’t, you can’t be successful unless you’re adapting, but we go back and we try and adapt. And we find that we have this fossilized status quo.
Tim Clark (40:51):
And so we try to change it, but it changes incrementally. It’s very difficult to change. We’ve all been there. We’ve all, we’ve all, we all understand this challenge. But today what I’m realizing is that this research finding that we learned a long time ago in school and college, that, uh, a crisis has the ability to liquefy the status quo, make it fluid, presents us with this unique opportunity to choose to shift or transform the culture. And we have it right now. And so there’s a, what I would call an opportunity in the calamity and we have to recognize it, what it is. We all have assets and liabilities in our cultures. And so I would encourage everyone to take a hard look at the culture right now and shift it. Now, while it’s in a, it’s in a fluid state, you have a once in a lifetime opportunity. That’s what I’ve been learning at a deeper level.
Jim Rembach (41:54):
Well, thanks for sharing that. And that’s a very good point. Um, so when I start looking at this work that you’ve done here, you’ve authored several books, um, you know, getting a, getting to know you a little bit more by looking at your social profile. And then all of that. Um, I started thinking about, you know, what, what would be potentially a goal that you would have? And I was wondering if you can share one of those with us.
Tim Clark (42:18):
Sure. So a professional goal that I have Jim, and I’ve actually written this down is to it’s, it’s kinda my deep why. Right? And it is to help others discover and act on true principles. And if I can do that, then I have, then, then I think I’ll have some scalable impact because for me, that’s where, that’s where my deep sense of satisfaction. That’s where my compensation really comes from is to help guide people, escort people through the discovery process to discover the truth about what’s going on with them, right? So greater levels of self-awareness greater levels of, of perception outside of themselves, and then be able to make some, some significant improvements. I think that’s why I do what I do.
Jim Rembach (43:15):
And the fast leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now, before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.
An even better place to work is an easy to use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement, along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award winning solutions, guaranteed to create motivated, productive, and loyal employees who have great work relationships with our colleagues and your customers to learn more about an even better place to work visit [inaudible] dot com board slash better. Alright, here we go. Fast leader Legion. It’s time for the home. Oh, okay. Tim, the hump, hold on us. The part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us a robust, you rapid responses that are gonna help us move onward and upward faster. Timothy R. Clark, are you ready to hone down? I’m ready. Alright. So what is holding you back from being an even better leader today? But for me, it’s taking my mind
Tim Clark (44:10):
fullness to a higher level. I’ve got to increase, I better improve my mindfulness.
Jim Rembach (44:15):
And what is the best leadership advice you have ever received
Tim Clark (44:18):
that leadership is about influence influences the single best synonym for leadership in the English language. So pay attention to the way you’re influencing others.
Jim Rembach (44:29):
And what is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Tim Clark (44:34):
Aggressive self directed learning hallways, being in a learning disposition of mindset.
Jim Rembach (44:42):
And what is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Tim Clark (44:46):
Being able to ask questions in an effective way with other people, the, the, what the why and the, how those are the three most effective questions
Jim Rembach (44:58):
and what would be one book you’d recommend to our Legion. And it could be from any genre. Of course, we’re going to put a link to the four stages of psychological safety on your show notes page as well.
Tim Clark (45:08):
You know, on this one, Jim, I’m going to go back to an, uh, an old classic, the effective executive it’s it’s it’s several years old, but it’s, it’s by Peter Drucker and it’s filled with very sound advice and counsel,
Jim Rembach (45:23):
okay. Fast leader Legion. You can find links to that. And other bonus information from today’s show by going to fast leader.net/tim Clark. Okay. 10. This is my last Humpday. Hold on question. Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age 25, and you could take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you can’t take it all. You can only choose one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Tim Clark (45:46):
I would take back the knowledge and skill that I have to coach people one-on-one, uh, and the, kind of the, the intellectual bravery and the social bravery that goes with that. I wasn’t very good at that in the beginning. I wish I could take that back,
Jim Rembach (46:02):
Tim. I had a fun time with you today. Can you please share with the fast leader Legion, how they can connect with you?
Tim Clark (46:07):
Sure. Yeah, you can reach out to me. I’m on Twitter, Timothy R. Clark, LinkedIn, Timothy R. Clark, or leader factor.com. Our website. We’d be happy to hear from you,
Jim Rembach (46:18):
Timothy R. Clark. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. The fast leader, Legion honors you, and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.