Choosing heart-centred leadership with Sesil Pir


I don’t believe in the concept of bad leadership. No one comes to work to have a bad day. But people still struggle and it made me wonder why. It made me delve into authentic leadership.

Authenticity is not a process of discovery but a process of acceptance. Human beings as a primate have three core motivations: self-interest, our need for connection and having a purpose that is greater than ourselves.

Human-centred leadership means we create individuals or a state of being that honors not only the whole of an individual but also the core of an individual, which is unique for everyone.

Sesil Pir

After a decade of serving the private sector in Human Resources Management, Cesil founded SESIL PIR Consulting GmbH in early 2015, as a research-based management consultancy based in Switzerland to serve mid-size to multinationals around Human Resources, Organizational Development, Talent, and Leadership topics.

Later in 2016, she invested in Whirling Chief, an open-source digital learning & collaboration platform to champion humanity in the workplace.


When studying organizations with sustainable growth and longer tenure, we identified eight core attributes or behaviours. Without these core attributes, your performance suffers and people might not feel heard and leave. It is not the great exit but the great awakening. We discussed the four dimensions, eight core attributes or behaviors and how living your purpose as a leader allows you to create a shared story.

We discuss:

  • The four dimensions and how they affect us all in life and in the workplace

  • The concept of social contagion that shows we pick up on each other’s energies

  • Eight core leader attributes or behaviors to achieve sustainable growth.

  • The importance of living your purpose as a leader to create a shared story.

  • Our inability to be present in the moment can be a barrier to achieve our core attributes.

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Carolyn Swora 02:35
All right, that’s sweating to make sure. recording in progress. All right, Dan. This is I don’t even remember what episode number it is. But it’s our episode was the CLP here. Hello, everyone. It’s Carolyn Swora. Host of evolve a new era of leadership. And today’s guest is joining us from the other side of the world and I’m so excited. Cecile Pierre, welcome to evolve.

Sesil Pir 03:09
Thank you for having me. Carolyn. Good to be here.

Carolyn Swora 03:13
Now we met I’ll say that met but we met virtually several years ago on LinkedIn and I noticed this you know, amazing woman making comments here and there on my posts and I would go and look at at you know, at your posts and your background. I thought oh my goodness, Who’s this woman? This amazing woman making these comments on my post and I just felt really honored because CLE you have such an incredible background. And I’m just really excited to have you on the show.

Sesil Pir 03:44
Thank you. Yeah, I’m equally excited to be here. I you know, it’s one thing to be with people. It’s always a bit of fun. And you learn from one another. It’s an honor to be with people who have similar spirits. Yes. to each other, Carolyn. So thank you for having me. It’s truly an honor and a pleasure. I appreciate so much

Carolyn Swora 04:07
well, and I know that we both share the fact that we’re authors and you’ve uh, you’ve had a an amazing book called Human Centered Leadership. I’m holding it up for everyone to see but you can’t see it because you’re all only on voice. But, you know, reading this and and going through your work. I mean, yeah, we really do share a connection and you’ve had some, you know, global experience with your work working in large organizations and and I’m just curious, how this this notion of human centered leadership became such a passion of yours and an area of focus for you.

Sesil Pir 04:49
Can thank you for asking, and I also want to say congratulations on your book. I just finished it and I loved reading it. I learned a ton. And I definitely saw some very good synergies, so I’m hoping that comes out today through the conversation. So wonderful question, how did it all start? I think it started with the fact that one I have been a practitioner my entire professional life. So it’s been a little over 25 years now. And I had my own leadership journey. So that’s definitely the beginning. But then as an HR practitioner, I’ve been serving many, many leaders over the years and what I realized Carolyn is nobody nobody wants to fail in the job. Yeah, everybody’s there for a reason. And I don’t believe in the concept of bad leadership. I don’t think anyone comes to work saying I want to have a bad day today. This service to my employees Yeah. But you do see people struggle, right. You see them struggle. And I think that awareness made me curious around what’s happening here. You know, we have these wonderful people in what I think wonderful jobs, and they’re really trying their best they’re giving their whole selves, and yet we’re not always getting the outcomes that we wish. Right. And I think that’s the curiosity that’s sort of pushed me into, you know, making affiliations with some organizations and thinking about research. And writing even so that’s that’s how all it started. I

Carolyn Swora 06:40
I had I had a similar curiosity when I did my my own thesis for my master’s and it was based around the fact that one on one with with leaders, I saw a very different I’m going to come back to the word that you used with us, I saw a very different spirit. It was almost like a different person would show up. And then when they were in front of others. It was like, Oh, where did that person go? And I became really curious into specifically Authentic Leadership Theory. That’s what my my thesis was about. And I know we share this, this notion of authenticity, sort of, you know, being at the core of how we show up. And so and I know that also relates to this this idea, we see authenticity related to human centered leadership, which I know is the topic of your book. So how did how did you how did you come to write this book about human centered leadership? What does it mean with for you and how does authenticity integrate into that?

Sesil Pir 07:48
I love the word authenticity, and I am speaking to the choir. So correct me if I’m wrong, research on this one, but I really feel like there are a lot of misnomers around the word of authenticity. If you will, personally have come to the conclusion that authenticity is not a process of discovery. It’s a process of acceptance for me.

Carolyn Swora 08:15
Wow, that’s amazing. I love the way you said that.

Sesil Pir 08:18
So it’s a nuance but it makes it makes quite a bit of a difference for me, and I think it also helps me to define what I mean by human centered leadership. So step back, I hear a lot of people write about or argue about the fact that our system is not human centric. And I would agree with that. And there’s a bit of an argument, if you will, I was at the World Economic Forum this year, for example, and there was a discussion around you know, should we have human focused economies are should we have generative life focused economies? I don’t see the two being so different.

Carolyn Swora 09:08
I was gonna say the exact same thing. They kind of are winning the same, aren’t they?

Sesil Pir 09:12
Yeah, I think I think we have the notion in our minds that the current system is designed for the human, but it really isn’t. I think we need to realize the you know, the industrials and industrialists and the economists of its time back, you know, 200 years ago when we had the first industrial revolution, do you design the system with P profit in mind, not the P of people in mind. So I feel like we’re not quite honoring the whole of the human because if we did that, the system would be a lot more generative. on its own. Right. Yeah. So I don’t know if you’re familiar with self determination theory, but it would. It would say that all human beings as a primate have three core motivations. One is a self interest, one is our need for connection. And one is our need to you know, have a tie of some purpose something greater than ourselves and what we do on a day to day basis. Yeah, I mean, I look at the current especially the capitalist system, you know, the economic system that we have, it really centers around the self interest, but it doesn’t honor our need for connection or our need for purpose. So for me, when I say human centered leadership, I am thinking of how do we create individuals or a state of being that honors the whole of an individual, also the core of an individual which is unique to everyone. And it also serves the reason for our being. And I think that’s probably the difference in my mind from you know, from top people are thinking about human centered societies or systems or leadership. Yeah,

Carolyn Swora 11:16
yeah, I know when I was writing my book. I wanted to dig into that notion of humanity a little bit more as well. And doing my own research, again, about the where the Industrial Revolution came from and what our economy was built at the systems around that. I was really struck at how long our focus has been like I mean, it’s been a couple of 100 years of our systems focus on profit. And I would say productivity came shortly after Sure. And, and I mean, that was you know, when when we started getting into the assembly lines and you know, the early the early 19th century or early 20s. And that just sort of took over and it’s like we’re having a hard time unhooking from that and detaching from that or balancing. Actually, balancing is probably a better word with

Sesil Pir 12:11
Grimore. And it explains sort of the disintegration and the fragmentation. We see in the workplace. You know, I loved many things in your book, and one of the things I loved is that you were talking about the different dimensions of the human being, how we need to activate the hand, the head, the heart, etc. And this is true, we have four primary dimensions, you know, we have a cognitive capability. We have an emotive key art, we have a physical and a spiritual one. And we have it when we are a child. We have it as adults, it doesn’t go away. And yet when you look at the current workplace or the organization’s we are part of majority activates our cognitive space, but it doesn’t do anything for the intuitive or the physical. Or let alone the spiritual and it’s not just the workplace, right. So you go to a very busy city, let’s say like New York City or Istanbul, where I have lived many years. You know, people won’t even look at each other in the eye. I know. We don’t see each other physically like we don’t recognize each other’s physical dimension to begin with. And in this transpires into the workplace, it’s absolutely amplified by digitalization. Now, one of the things that, you know, I make my leaders laugh all the time because I challenge them on, you know, stupid little things. One of the things I say you know, we have these back to back online meetings now. And, you know, depending on the agenda, people come in and out of the room. When someone comes in, you don’t take 10 seconds to say, hi, Carolyn, come in welcome. And you know, it’s like someone walking into your living room and you not noticing it or you know, when someone finishes something to say thank you. There’s so little but there’s so core and fundamental to our being our desire to be seen our desire to be heard, our desire to be cared for and rewarded those things. Don’t go away. As we become adults, we just kind of don’t pay attention to them because, you know, there isn’t an economic value to it in

Carolyn Swora 14:31
great array. And that that Yeah, and that’s, you know, again, the system that’s been in place for so long. By the way have you read any of Catrin Marcel’s work, the mother of invention, but I have

Sesil Pir 14:44
to make a note now, yes,

Carolyn Swora 14:46
she’s written two books. She’s a feminist economist from Sweden, I think it is. And yeah, she wrote two books who, who made Adam Smith’s dinner? Adam Smith being the father of economic theory that we all live under. And the second one mother of invention. Okay. Great Books.

Sesil Pir 15:09
look those up. Yeah, yeah.

Carolyn Swora 15:14
You know, one thing that I learned I learned a lot right in my book, but I’ll say one of the most profound things that I learned was the fact that our nervous systems will talk to each other or communicate with each other at all times. And and somebody you either your your nervous system is either gonna say, Oh, welcome, this person feel safe. They just welcomed me into the room. Come on in, or nervous system is gonna say, be cautious, and we kind of will step back and so those little things that you’re talking about, when we recognize I believe, when we recognize that we are made up of not just our head and our heart, but also our body and our nervous system as part of that functioning body. It allows us to see leadership in such a broader way and in such a fuller way as well.

Sesil Pir 16:08
Yeah, I completely agree. My mind is going in multiple directions. But there’s this concept of such social contagion. Yes. I don’t know if you’ve come across that. Yeah. So in our research, too, we find you know, a set of employees for example, going into the workplace if you take their blood pressure early in the morning, when they come it’s one thing and then when the leader arrives, especially if the leader leader is coming from let’s say, difficult evening, right? Like they didn’t have their children sleeping or they had a family argument even if they’re completely professional, and they don’t necessarily transpire their experience onto others. If you you know, measure their blood pressure just several hours later, it’s different. We pick up on each other’s energies. Our nervous system is very, very powerful. And I think, you know, the power of your work really comes in here because what we know is the impact of trauma is exactly that. It starts with separation from self, then separation from others, you know, isolation or loss of trust. And then you may have an altered worldview thinking, you know, maybe world is not a safe place, and maybe there’s pain all the time. And then you slowly start detaching from what’s core and important to you. And that creates up an obvious gap, you know, for how you build relationships and how you build bondage with others. Yeah, sure. For sure what you say makes complete sense to me. Yeah.

Carolyn Swora 17:50
Yeah. And I know in your work, Cecile, you talk about in your book, eight core attributes for leaders. Can we talk a bit a little bit about those and, and, you know, again, I read them all I was like, Oh, yep, yep, check, check, check, check. It totally agree. How did you come up with those eight first of all,

Sesil Pir 18:11
yeah, so very, very interesting path and we had sort of three stages to the research, if you will. So the one thing that we were discussing as a group with my team, was the statistics that 52% of the Fortune 500 companies have disappeared since the year 2000. So in 20 years time, you know, these very large, long tenured organizations just sort of went off the market. So the question was, what happened to them? And then, of course, you know, we’re all curious individuals. So we started asking, Well, what happened to the remaining ones and what are they doing differently? So this concept of sustainable growth came to mind. And we got curious about understanding what may be leading to these organizations, you know, longer tenure, if you will. So we reached out to those 48% and some of them agreed for us to interview them. Long story short, but we found leads to what we refer to as a sustainable growth is sort of two legged one is adaptability, which first to an organization’s capability to renew itself. It may be its processes, its products, portfolio, even people to some degree, and the second one is resilience, which refers to the collective but the individuals inside that collective individuals ability to you know, bounce back from adversity to deal with change, and to learn and grow within themselves. So those two came into play. And then of course, we didn’t stop there. We were like, Well, if that’s the case, what’s leading to that? You know, are there some common behaviors and I’d love to talk about this too. But we came up with five behaviors, five leadership behaviors we felt like was, there was a pattern across multiple organizations. And those five behaviors for me are sort of challenging the current understanding of leadership to maybe I give one example. So one of the behaviors is leaders sit in many chairs. So inside these organizations, who you know, have been in the market for many, many years and continue to be despite the bigger changes that are happening around them. They don’t treat leadership the way we know it. You know, in a traditional sense, when we say a leader people will visualize a hierarchy of metrics or metrics right so traditional hierarchical structure, where there’s top leadership and there’s management, middle management, and then there’s employees and the information flows in one way. In these organizations, they were literally looking at everyone as a leader so you could be coming out of university fresh but you would still have a job scope that has a beginning and an end so you have end to end responsibility for something within your scope. You had full rights for decision making. And if a senior when I say senior, I mean someone with multiple years as an individual contributor or a manager comes in, you’re in an equal playground, they can challenge you, but you can challenge them back who asked you to do questions? So they were almost deferring to the organization is more of a dynamic living organism which I think is very suited. But those kinds of behaviors really challenged the way a lot of us think about leadership today. So anyway, we started with sustainable growth came to behaviors and then we looked for okay within the individuals are there some common attributes that are helping leaders behave the way they do to create these safe spaces to create, create these equal playgrounds, if you will, to build trust, etc. And that’s how the eight attributes came about. And the eight attributes are very interesting to me. You know, we have this language of like hard skills and soft skills in the workplace and I don’t necessarily like that.

Carolyn Swora 22:39
Yeah, me too.

Sesil Pir 22:40
We call them core right because the eighth pair you know, purposes there is an example of courage is there are wonder is there compassion is there these are attributes that we are all born with. Geography doesn’t matter what kind of a family were born into, or what sort of you know, credible education we have had, but we are not always taught how to work with these attributes, and that makes the difference. When you play with purpose, if you’re able to actually activate and live your purpose, then you contribute to the formation of a certain climate versus not or if you can be courageous again, you attribute yourself to contribution of a certain climate or not. So they almost sit on a spectrum where you can lean in or lean out and depending on where you play, it creates a certain environment for other people.

Carolyn Swora 23:39
That’s what that’s what I was really struck. By I’m just gonna read off the aid. So our listeners can know and I thought to myself, like, if I was coming into an organization, and I saw these eight core attributes, and that helped me develop as a person a human, how that would just really bring out the strengths within right and serve the whole like everybody, not just the organization. So the eight core attributes purpose, courage, foresight, emotional intelligence, wonder, wisdom, compassion, and mastery. Wonder and wisdom. Wow, I was just I was I was really taken by those. So can you help us understand you had mentioned leadership behaviors or competencies and and you started to talk a little bit about how leadership has changed a little bit. How are the core attributes connected to those leadership behaviors?

Sesil Pir 24:51
Yeah, very good question. So let’s take a couple of examples. I think it’s probably best to go a little bit deeper so that the audience can also really can they can relate and understand better. So let’s take purpose as an example and then we can take another one so what do we mean by purpose purpose, generally speaking, it’s a core belief or an aspiration someone has as to what they do or why they exist in the first place. So in an individual or organizational context, you can think of it as the why, you know, understanding the why for your situation or specific mission. And, you know, there’s a scientific definition we have in the book, we’ll put that aside, but in the Art of Leading purpose is key because when we know our purpose, we are able to align all of our being in doing accordingly. So we understand what’s our life’s mission, we understand what are our values and with only with that, our nervous system actually gets elevated and we are able to intake information better. And so when someone comes and says something like, we are going to have a new product in our portfolio, not only we are able to listen better but we are looking for ways of connection, and assigning our purpose, our reason for being to what we can do with this new product that’s coming in and how we can position it for the benefit of others. So it really embodies the core efforts, almost like an intrinsic motivation that helps us not only overcome our own inertia so we can do the right thing but it helps us also explain things better and help us help others. make better sense of what’s happening in the environment. So it’s, it’s really critical because what we find in our research the leaders who are able to live their purpose and come to work with that, for example, if someone knows, you know, I live to be in service to others or I live to, you know, provide better health care to the world and the environment. And every time they come to work, they’re looking for a piece of information and nuanced something that they can take and work with and then help inspire others write their stories through a shared story. And when they don’t actually the complete opposite happens their nervous system starts to slowly shut down or disconnect from any information, any activity that’s happening in their environment. So when an employee comes in and says, Why are we missing in this new product, they’re not always able to articulate for the better, right, you know, or they give some answers that are pre prepared, and it doesn’t necessarily transpire is energy and inspiration. Right? So there’s less sense making, if you will, in the environment, and more lacking Yeah, that’s the leaning in and out, if you will, so there’s no harm in not knowing or not living your purpose, except that if you can, it helps others better connect to you better connect to what’s happening in their environment, and create a shared story, right, the individuals

Carolyn Swora 28:37
so is it almost like these attributes are like the seeds, the seeds and then the the leadership behaviors are like the what you you water, it’s like the water the sun, it’s the it’s the I’m not a gardener, but it’s the it’s the things that things that that will make it flourish.

Sesil Pir 28:57
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I think a seed is a it’s a beautiful symbol. It’s sort of a, they, they help you potentially grow the capacity that’s in you. Yeah, that opening through that blossom. It gives others to be a part of what’s happening right. It creates an environment where others can come in. We could take another example I don’t know what’s interesting to either courage or wonder but

Carolyn Swora 29:30
when you know, can we go with wonder I was I was in awe and I think Wonder or wonder and awe kind of similar. They

Sesil Pir 29:38
they’re related. Yes. You pick terms, they’re different. All 10 tends to be or again, in scientific definition tends to be bigger than closely related.

Carolyn Swora 29:52
So let’s let’s go with that one. Let’s go with wonder.

Sesil Pir 29:54
Okay, so when we talk about wonder we often say it’s a sense of curiosity, and I think it is, yeah, but there is something a little more to wonder there’s a sense of connectedness that comes through this particular attribute. So individuals are really in the moment when they have a sense of wonder. And in an organizational context, it really sort of manifests itself as having a beginner’s mind. So people can build valuable options and have a better ability to listen to one another. Right? And there are really three facets the wonder there’s the ability to sort of find and recognize or take pleasure in whatever is existing. So that’s kind of being in the moment, but then there’s an active engagement and there’s responsiveness to what’s happening. So not only you see something and you go, Wow, you actually kind of lean in to learn more and dig, dig a little bit deeper. And through that sort of active cognition or emotion, if you will. There’s an ongoing age engagement and it creates more synergies, more discussions, more dialogue with people. So in practical terms, it literally feeds into people’s creativity, right? Sharing, right? So that’s what happens. I mean, a lot of organizations are looking for innovation, and they’ll turn to technology or they’ll turn to you know, they’ll turn to a thing, something that they hope will sort of your creativity, where we have this wonderful attribute that we can work with and the pointy thing is, well, not so funny. But the beautiful thing is when leaders are wondrous, not only they share the sense of vastness and you know, beauty, if you will, but they also start sort of looking actively for areas where they can find moral excellence where they can find ethical practice. So it takes them to a whole different compass, if you will, which I think is wonderful. And again, on the opposite when leaders are not able to work with onder. A lot of the times what happens is they start slowly again, disconnecting from the moment disconnecting from the discussion, sometimes they’re only playing in their heads, and even if they look like they’re listening to someone, they’re actually preparing their own answers or justifying their own sense of judgment. And so they get into this like, I know it all attitudes, and you don’t see a lot of dialogue happening. You don’t see a lot of synergies being built. You don’t see a lot of discovery happening in a mutual setting. I think it’s a really powerful tool, if you will. Wonder for me it’s one of the key attributes.

Carolyn Swora 33:01
It really stood out to me. Would you say that our innate ability to be present in the moment is the biggest barrier to achieving these core attributes?

Sesil Pir 33:14
Hmm. Great question. I think that’s part of it. For sure. I think, you know, going back to the original opening we had in terms of how authentic authenticity is about acceptance. I think you really need to be in the moment to come to agreement with whatever you may have, right? Or whatever you may be lacking. That’s the other thing. I don’t think. I don’t think there’s anything good or bad about what we have. I don’t see a judgment. Currently. This has been my biggest I think, epiphany, if you will, in my own leadership journey. I used to be my own judge before anyone else. And if I couldn’t do something, I continuously beat myself for it without anyone knowing. No, I didn’t even share that. And that alone disconnects you from the moment. So you miss multiple opportunities of what’s happening, you know, if you’re in the moment, then hopefully you can start to you know, see what’s happening for what’s happening without any judgments. And if you can be compassionate with yourself, then hopefully you can start growing some awareness and say, Oh, maybe that behavior doesn’t necessarily lend itself the way I meant it to. I wonder what happened there and start analyzing a little bit. Yeah. And that creates an opportunity for us to potentially step into correct course, reconnect to our values, and even have some dialogue with the people who may be on the receiving end of that behavior. And rejuvenate our bondage and our relationships. So yeah, it’s a wonderful question you asked it really made me think but I think you’re onto something there being in the moment makes a huge difference.

Carolyn Swora 35:28
Yeah. And I think for me, what I one other thing that I’ve learned, I won’t say the one thing is, we can be in the moment with our head and I think for many years, I thought being in the moment meant cognitively, being focused on a topic sitting in a meeting. And so you’re shaking your head we’re on. We’re on the same page. What I learned is, you know, again, I’ll come back to those three centers of intelligence. I think they’re easy for people to remember. Is your heart in the moment, are you allowing yourself to feel in the moment and use that data? And that emotion as data instead of pushing it away? Are you in the moment with the feeling your feet on the floor or you know, feeling the temperature around you? And I’ll be the first to say I’ve lived probably you know, most of my life not being in the moment with all three of those centers of intelligence. And I think that that’s where I think there’s such a huge opportunity for leaders and again, we both agree on what a leader is, if you step into an organization and you want to make things better, that makes you a leader doesn’t matter what your title is. I think that’s where there is just so much untapped opportunity. Is that integration.

Sesil Pir 36:45
I fully agree and I love the probes you have in the book. In fact, I made an order of a couple and one of them was around you know, when when has fear been present for you? I’m not going to quote exactly what does it look like? And, you know, over the, over my career or my professional life, there has been many occasions where, you know, leaders didn’t necessarily come out the way that they wanted to, and then as their HR practitioner, you know, we would have a debrief afterwards. And if I ever stopped them to ask, you know, what, what are you feeling right now? Where is it in the body? Less than 1% can actually articulate it. They’re disconnected from what’s happening. They can’t say My hands are cold or I’m sweating. Or it’s in my guts and or I have that burning sensation in my head. They actually do not know yet because they’re not there. They’re physically there. Or cognitively they are in the conversation, but they they’re not able to carry that hole. And this is where the importance of that whole comes. Exactly. If you don’t have this, if you don’t have the awareness, then how are you going to create space for any sort of self regulation?

Carolyn Swora 38:05
Yeah. And that’s pretty me back to a comment that you shared, or it was a statement that you shared when we first had our first conversation a few weeks ago. And it was about the importance of holding the space of safety and not trying to solve things. And that comment of holding space, I think, again, is where we need to go with leadership. How do we hold space, we can’t hold space for ourselves. Or others. If we’re not present with our head, heart and body.

Sesil Pir 38:45
Yeah, and I absolutely agree. And there’s so much around language that plays against this here. I’m really unhappy with the business language. Let me just put it out there. There are many things that we say I think it doesn’t serve people well. Management, or manager is that Larry is one of them. I think we’re probably on the same page. You know, the way we think of a manager is someone who actually manages calm comment and control and fixing and the truth is, you can’t really manage people. I mean, I wish you I know you’re a mom. I’m going to be one in a couple of months. I don’t think I can’t manage my partner let’s

Sesil Pir 39:40
but it’s, it’s really not possible. And that axis of management versus leadership. I think these are things that really paralyze us because what happens is,

Sesil Pir 39:50
you know, somebody who is an excellent individual contributor, perhaps has perfected the way they do time management, task management. They got their operations in control, right, like, assignment. They know how to break it into pieces, they know what to do, they know when to get feedback, and then hopefully they deliver on time within budget. And then you promote them into a leadership role. And they assign something to someone else. They expect. The same formula works for the other

Sesil Pir 40:23
person, right? Right, because that’s what they know you want to get from A to B, this is what you need to do. I have it I have it. And when the

Sesil Pir 40:32
other person starts to go from A to C to come back to B, they jump because here is you know, their sense of control is elevated and what’s going on here. This is not how I know how to do things. Are we going to land in the right place? And sure they feel accountable. They feel responsible for the end result. And therefore they start to start to activate all these practices they know. Anyway, long story short, I know you know where I’m going with this. You know that their circumstances, their practices, their mindsets. That we had been taught, that we’re really working against us. So I really want to, I want to invite our colleagues to give themselves the freedom to not believe just because we’re taught something that certain way doesn’t mean it’s going to work for us. Give yourself the freedom to try something else. doesn’t work the way that you’re taught. Maybe there’s another solution that you have not been taught yet. Yeah, so

Carolyn Swora 41:36
it’s really to tap into that vendor. Yeah, but in this is where we’ll come back to those core attributes and how they can serve us to move leadership forward. I’m curious a few other what other what other words are are not serving us. Can you share a few other ones I know we definitely agree on management. What other ones come up for you

Sesil Pir 41:58
there’s so many I don’t like work life balance. I feel like me you know so much about neurology. We’re sort of coding into our heads that work in life or separate. Yeah, no, not we have one life and work is a part of it. eautiful part of it doesn’t have to be, but there’s so much more integration there.

Sesil Pir 42:23
I think some words are preloaded, like diversity. I love the essence of diversity. I think it’s really boxed. In too small. For me, it doesn’t work. I think we often think gender and perhaps ethnicity. But I’ve seen people you know leaders very, very senior, very tenured leaders struggle with, you know, bringing their whole selves to work because of who they are, you know, they’re a little funny or they their hair, their hair, their hair in a particular way and all of these makes, so it seems minor. I’m kind of seeing myself these things seem really muddy really take away from the experience of people being themselves in the workplace. If you think you have to wear a particular suit every day to fit in. You’re uncomfortable, every god given day and trying to do your best work. What do we care? What do I care if someone’s hair is purple? As long as they’re there, they’re present. They’re reliable. They’re able to carry their tasks, they’re able to inspire people. I don’t care, but people struggle with this so anyway, diversity for me so much bigger than that. It is a way of expression for people. And I really want everyone to feel included not by others, but by themselves first, yeah, they can be comfortable in their own skin. Their words like that, that I’m there many?

Carolyn Swora 44:08
Yeah. Well, and what I’m hearing you say is that it’s so much bigger, this concept of diversity than just a few things like yeah, like typical, I’d say some typical corporate things, we can grab a hold of a word and it really really make it too simplified almost, and it doesn’t. It doesn’t embody the complexity and richness of what’s really going on.

Sesil Pir 44:32
Yeah, functions of Darryl, there are a lot of the words that came in, I think through the military powers would you know, let’s armor there are things that I feel don’t don’t necessarily reflect the reality but also doesn’t always show grace and embrace the wholeness of what we’re trying to achieve. So, I’d love to rewrite our vocabulary. It’s not a one man job, but you know what I mean? We

Carolyn Swora 45:06
concepts. Words are very powerful. And even, you know, the words that that we that we use. I mean I’m very aware of, of, I’d say certain certain topics. I’m much more aware of my language than I ever used to be. And I know we’re veering off we could do a whole other podcast on this but I’m just going to wrap up with this this little piece. I think it to come back to diversity really. I think you’re going to circle back to the the words that we use make a very big difference make a very big difference and and this awareness and authenticity and accepting ourselves and understanding who we are is going to impact the words that we use the words that we’re open to integrating into our vocabulary, as well. I guess I kind of went a little bit deep with that. And one of the words that I noticed that is used everywhere is this word, guys. Hey, guys. Hey, and and as you know, I’m not a guy and I’ve had people say well, that’s just a term for every everybody. Yeah, but it’s not and and the curiosity to welcome in and say, Well, what does that word mean to you? And have a conversation about it versus no, it’s not. But yeah, it’s you know, I think that there’s there’s something there’s something about the language that we use as well. That falls into all of this. Yeah.

Sesil Pir 46:37
And there’s something about also stepping in and really fulfilling our space. I have nothing against economists. But we do this disagree a lot. And again, you know, when I met the forum, or else places we have very vivid arguments, and I love them because I learned so much through them. But even recently, this concept of great exit, for example, right? It’s, the argument for me is not solid. Why is it the great exits? I wrote an article saying is this great exit or Great Awakening? Because if you’re an economist, you’re gonna associate everything to again, revenue and money right? You’re gonna say people are leaving workplaces for pay and additional benefits. When in reality, the research shows us no, they’re not. They’re looking for a better purpose. They’re looking for better cultural fit and meaningful connections. So maybe it’s not necessarily exit. Maybe they’re awakening to the fact that there could be a different reality. See how it shifts the conversation in a whole different place. Yeah, you don’t have to be so much on the offense. So I always say to my HR colleagues, it’s your space. You don’t have to take concepts at the heart value if it doesn’t feel right to you doesn’t feel right to you don’t have to own it. And in fact, I would want us to challenge one another and say, still you think this Are you right about this? Do you really think it is this and you give me an opportunity to go back and forth and that we learn something from you and maybe together we arrive at a better place? Um, I don’t like these sort of flavor of the day concepts and trends and I know how they generate money, don’t get me wrong. But just doesn’t serve us. That’s what I’m trying to say. Yeah,

Carolyn Swora 48:36
I agree. I agree. Oh, Cecile, we could talk for a long time. I know there’s many things we could I have thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. And in some ways, I’m sad to wrap it up. But we do have, we do have three questions. Are we I do I feel these three questions. Can we go there to wrap up the conversation? Sure. Sure. Yeah. And these three questions. You know, we they’re based out of out of my book and the evolved leadership model, which you know, we talked about so many overlaps today with that. So the first one has to do with self awareness. And, and I’m asking the guests who come on to share a moment of self awareness that was, you know, kind of striking a moment when there was a lot of discomfort but it yielded a lot of insight for you.

Sesil Pir 49:31
Mm hmm. Yeah. I love that question. Maybe. I’ll go back to you know, my early days as a leader, Carolyn, I made many many mistakes. And so I have so many examples. And I hope I have been able to learn through them. But this one, I lost sleep for many, many nights over this one. So what happened was, I was with a company, a large pharmaceutical and I had a very big team and we were just introducing open space, open spaces, and I don’t have a preference for open spaces. I’m an introvert. And yeah, I just deal with a lot of energy. So I needed a bit of a closeness. But nevertheless, this was our setting. And there was someone on the team where I really struggled to gain trust with it was a she she was also older than me and more experienced than me. And I thought I did everything right. And I just could not gain her trust and I couldn’t figure out why. So, you know, after many, many months, one day I just said, what’s wrong? Like, tell me what am I doing wrong? By the way, if I can say, if you notice something, don’t wait. Yeah. You don’t have to wait. I think vulnerability is a sign of courage. I didn’t know it, Dan, so I waiting too long. But anyway, she shared with me something she observed because we were in an open space, a conversation I had with another colleague, someone from the team. She didn’t have the context. She didn’t have the background of what was happening. All she told me was that my response seemed forceful. If I can use your model, yeah. Yep to her. And there was a very legitimate reason for why if there was any aggression, there was aggression in the conversation. However, I record that day that no matter what the job comes with a microscope, yeah, people will look at you, for better or worse for role modeling. And it’s not just about one to one relationships rebuild, it’s about how we show up in the environment, right, alone or with others and trust can be built or taken away, too. And that was such an eye opener for me. I think it was one of those things along with others later in life I when I decided I have to be who I am at home at work elsewhere. It’s who I am. Pieces of me. That was one of those things because you can’t earn trust by gossiping to someone about someone else like one behavior we always see in the workplace. I trust you. So I’m going to tell you this. Yes. Yeah. And the other person is thinking Well, are you doing this in the back of me too,

Carolyn Swora 52:41
right? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So are you saying like you you wish you hadn’t been forceful? Or you wish you were more forceful? And maybe forceful? People don’t have the context with it necessarily. But obviously, you know, you kind of

Sesil Pir 52:58
I think what I learned, yeah, what I think what I learned is if I’m going to give someone feedback, it has to be one to one Gotcha. Or if it’s in a group setting, everybody needs to be brought in on the content so they can understand what’s happening. Otherwise, there’s gap and they fulfill the gap with variances their own beliefs and assumptions. So that was the biggest learning. Yeah, and that trust isn’t necessarily built only one to one.

Carolyn Swora 53:30
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that was a That’s a profound example. So. All right, second question. What is a practice or ritual that keeps you or returns you to a regulated state in your nervous system?

Sesil Pir 53:51
It’s a beautiful question also. I love taking walks in the way of meditation. I am not someone who can sit in silence for meditation. I have a praying practice. So I do that every morning, kind of like a meditation. I have a map that my grandmother hands so for me many, many years. Beautiful. I just sit on that and, you know, show a sign of gratitude for things that I have. That’s that time prayer. But what what helps me the most is if I’m out in nature and walking, and I really tried to do that almost every day currently and for you know, 40 minutes to an hour. Sometimes I have podcasts in my ears most of the time. There’s nothing it’s just to connect with nature. Yeah, that really grounds me I feel like that’s my soil and I kind of wash all the energy in the way.

Carolyn Swora 54:55
That’s beautiful. Yeah. And last but not least, the final question has to do with connection in something bigger than ourselves. And so this one is about music, because I find that music is just a way to connect to language in its own right. What is the song or genre of music that makes you feel connected to something bigger than yourself?

Sesil Pir 55:22
I love music. I love dancing too. I don’t do it as much as I used to. And I love this music, like 60s 70s Why I think there’s something about the sort of the flow in the music that makes me feel free so I can just let go and surrender. Surrender to the moment if that’s what makes it worthwhile for me. And I’m such a silly character. Just to get giddy with people smile, it’s elevates my state. I feel joyful and I feel really happy. So yeah, I’d say that probably my husband too. Sorry. I just cut you off like this morning. You know, when the radio is on. Usually it’s the vintage tunes that are playing and you know, we kind of go.

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