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Success #30: Little Known Ways To Become A Manager You Can Be Proud Of – with Jane Hyun

Little Known Ways To Become A Manager You Can Be Proud Of – with Jane Hyun

Does any of these scenarios look familiar to you in your organization?

An employee keeps texting at work and you wonder how much work and productivity he has done.

You are consider to promote a senior employee to become manager but she rarely expresses her voice at work. Other teammates are doubtful about her leadership ability.

Situations like these pose a challenge for leadership in the 21st century – how to be a flexible manager.

In this interview, Jane Huyn, a leading authority in leadership strategy, will talk about her new book “Flex” and unleash what it takes to become a “Fluent” leader – a newly-minted type of leader to get the best from the multi-diverse and multi-cultured workforce.

Jane is also so kind to offer a special bonus. Check out the interview for this limited opportunity to talk personally with Jane.

About Jane Hyun

Jane Hyun is a leadership strategist, executive coach and author of the bestselling classic Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling and co-author of Flex: The New Playbook for Managing Across Differences. For the past 11 years, her programs have received international acclaim from Fortune 500 companies and MBA programs. A graduate of Cornell University with a degree in Economics/International Studies, she was previously a Vice President of Human Resources/Talent at JPMorgan, and Director of Recruiting at Deloitte & Touche.

Hyun helps organizations grow their bottom line through the effective deployment of their talent and serves as an advisor to senior management teams regarding diversity strategy. She has worked with sales teams, guided leadership through a merger integration and divestiture, led organizational change initiatives with new leadership, created onboarding programs, and designed several innovative performance programs for top talent. Her clients range from small startups to large multinationals in financial services, consumer products, biotech/pharmaceuticals, professional services, high-tech, and retail industries. She presents to CEOs and senior level roundtables frequently on the topic of cultural fluency and leadership.

Jane appears regularly on CNN, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Washington Post and other media to discuss leadership, culture, and diversity. She serves on the Board of Operation Exodus, and is an advisor to the Toigo Foundation and Task for Talent Innovation. She is passionate about helping individuals realize their fullest potential in the workplace and their communities.

Raw Transcript

  Michael Nguyen: Okay Success Station this is your host, Michael Nguyen from                         where successful entrepreneurs show you how they build companies and achieve success. I’m so thrilled to introduce my guest today, Jane Hyun. She’s a leadership strategist and executive coach, author of the best-selling classic, Breaking the Bamboo. I still have it over here and also she’s a co-author of Flex: The New Playbook of Managing Across Differences. And for the past 11 years, her programs are receiving national acclaim from Fortune 500 companies and MBA programs. And Jane herself is a grad from Cornell University with a degree in economics and international studies. And she was previously working at the Human Resources at JP Morgan and Deloitte & Touche. Jane helped organizations grow their bottom line through effective deployment of their talent and she regularly appears on CNN, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. Jane, welcome to the show!


Jane Hyun:             Great to be here, Michael, thanks for having me here.


Michael Nguyen: Thank you so much and are you prepared to inspire?


Jane Hyun:             Yes! I am. Ready to go.


Michael Nguyen: Thank you, than you so much. So Jane I’ve just given our listeners just an overview about you so help me take a minute and tell us about you personally and then we want to get to know you. And then give us an overview about your book, Flex.


Jane Hyun:             Okay sure. I’ll start with a little bit about my personal background. I’m Korean American and I was born in Korea and I was raised in New York City. So lived in both very commodious environments as well as multicultural. And grew up in New York City—I’m a very urban oriented person. But you know my work takes me all around the globe and I work with all different types of people and organizations to help them develop their talent and that’s what I’ve been doing. I would say when people ask me what I do, if I could describe what I do, it’s basically I help people develop their full potential. And that could be in large organizations, it could be in smaller, kind of start-up type organizations, or it could be in schools. Sometimes I work with students and MBA programs to help them understand how to be more effective and how to communicate more effectively. And so that’s pretty much what I do.


The early part of my corporate or work experience has been in the corporate sector for about 13, 14 years where I got a lot of training in both finance and talent and recruiting in HR. And I think all of those experiences lay the groundwork for what I believe is important in organizations, which is truly your human capital. Understanding how to motivate and help advance your talent. You know any organization without the right people resources is not going to make it, right? You might have a wonderful product and you may have a lot of people interested in the product but at the end of the day if you’re going to grow it, you’re going to really need the right people to usher in that growth and help them get there. So I’m privileged and feel honored that I can serve the organizations I work with and help them reach their potential as well.


Michael Nguyen: Awesome, thank you for that Jane. So here at the show it starts with the guest’s favorite success quote which is a way of getting the motivational ball rolling. So what is your favorite success quote and how do you apply it to your everyday mentalities?


Jane Hyun:             Yeah I have a lot of different success quotes but I think the one I would like to share with you today is, “It takes courage to be yourself. It takes courage to be who you are.” And I say that because I think most of the people that I work with and have known over the years—they tell me they spend half of their lives figuring out who they really are. And then they have to spend the next half of their lives really living up to who they are, right? And not trying to be someone else and trying to act like or lead like someone else.


And so I think it’s a journey that we all go on and where you were maybe 10 years ago may not be where you are now. You may have learned something from a manager, you may have learned something from a family member, and that impacts who you are and how you will take your direction going forward. Not just for your career but I think on a personal level too. So I think that if all of us were courageous enough to really know who we are and took the time to be honest with ourselves to say, “Here’s who I am. Here’s my skills, here’s my personality strengths, here’s the cultural experience who has made me who I am. And here’s how I’m going to contribute that to the greater society and greater good.” I think if we can all focus on that at some point and really be thoughtful, I think there will be a lot that we can contribute.


Michael Nguyen: Totally agree and today hopefully you share some of the strategies and all of the things that can discover who we really are today.


Jane Hyun:             Absolutely. Absolutely, I’m happy to share.


Michael Nguyen: Perfect. And Jane let’s move back in time a little bit to when you worked at the corporation, at J.P. Morgan and Deloitte, what led you to your first book? And what are some of the pains or some of the—what did you see at that time that led you to the first book?


Jane Hyun:             Sure, sure. Actually I wrote the book after I left my corporate organizations, corporate employers, probably about 3 or 4 years after I left the corporate world, I started getting into coaching and training and started my own business. I wrote breaking the bamboo ceiling—now it’s almost I think 9½ years that I wrote that. Because I thought at the time when I was thinking about submitting my proposal for the book—Asian Americans were just about emerging as about a 4%, 4.5% of the population—still a very fast growing minority group but a very small part of the population.


And yet as I watched in my observation, in my research, and also in working in these organizations, I realized that they were entering into these companies but they were not necessarily making it past the middle management ranks of many of these Fortune 500 companies. And I wanted to bring Asians to that conversation, right? That they needed to also be talked about, that just because they were joining these companies they weren’t necessarily rising to the top.


The other part of it was I felt there was a need to equip the Asians with the right types of skills and career advice for them to be effective in companies. I think, like all of us, we all have our blind spots and I think there are things that if we knew a little bit more about ourselves we could understand how others perceive us and we could see how that impacts how we work in the workplace. And so the book is kind of half—kind of a manifesto of sorts of Asians and the challenges they face and the other half is a career strategies guide. You know how do you then understand how culture impacts you in the workplace. How do you network effectively? How do you interview? How do you negotiate for your compensation? All those practical skills are things that I think Asians could definitely learn from and that’s kind of how I wrote the book.


Michael Nguyen:  So you wrote a book as part of—to help your coaching business or your own book as part of the experience that you or some of the challenges that you saw from the corporate world?


Jane Hyun:             Yeah, you know I wrote the book not so much for the business aspect of it although it definitely enhanced it as I went along. But I really felt like it was a book that needed to be told. On one hand certainly from my personal experience I recognized, “Wow you know, having been raised in another country and then going to work in corporate America I learned so many things about things I never really learned before, right?” Just the whole idea of networking, the idea of knowing how to talk about your accomplishments in a way that was graceful. That wasn’t something that was taught in my community or through my parents. So all these different skills that we learn growing up in America are things that I think sometimes Asian Americans don’t always get in our families.


And so I felt like the need to be shared that and the other thing that I thought needed to be told was Asians were really talked about when we talked about diversity, right? And needing to be inclusive in organizations. And so I thought, “Well you know I think there’s a lot of Asians entering the workforce that need to be a part of this conversation.” And so that’s kind of how I got the idea for the book. And then of course I did a lot more work—and I still do a lot of work around developing talent and looking at Asian talent in organizations. So it has become my work more so but when I started doing this business I wasn’t necessarily only focused on Asians.


Michael Nguyen:  Gotcha, gotcha. Do you realize that you carved your own niche? I did the research on Google and typed in, “bamboo ceilings.”


Jane Hyun:             Yup.


Michael Nguyen:  You know that Wiki actually referenced you according to word?


Jane Hyun:             Yeah so you know there’s some people who have mentioned that. Absolutely, absolutely. I have programs that are called “Through the Bamboo Ceiling” series that actually take a group of people through that. So that’s really great. And I love to see that when I meet with a group of students let’s say at a college you know I do a lot of speaking engagements. They tell me oh they’ve heard about it but they don’t know what it is, right? It’s good that the idea of what it is, is there even though they’ve never experienced the bamboo ceiling, right?


Michael Nguyen: That’s awesome, that’s awesome. After writing the book, Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling for nine years then what led you to the book Flex and tell me all about it.


Jane Hyun:             Yeah and that’s a great follow-up question. You know when I first wrote Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling nine years ago, I was really writing it from the point of view of the Asian experience, right? And so of course anybody who reads the book can read the book so of course managers who are white or African American or Latino can read it and also get a lot of learning from it because they can learn about Asians, right? And they can learn a lot about the cultural experience that we experience here in the states.


But I felt like the more I did this work and the more work I did also with managers of Asians and managers of anybody who worked with different cultural backgrounds, I realized its not just the people from diverse backgrounds who need to adapt from inside a company. We also need the organization or the management to understand and be sensitive to the new people in the workforce who maybe perhaps not have the right—well not, I’m not using the right words here. May not necessarily know the rules, right? The unwritten rules for succeeding in the company. And perhaps there may be cultural perspectives for how they see leadership and so that’s the reason I wrote Flex.


I felt that there were concepts in the book Flex that would help managements and organizations be better leaders because they know how to work with more diverse individuals and that could be across different cultures, different generations, people that are younger than them, different ages, and then also men and women as well. There’s always differences across that.


Michael Nguyen:  Can you share with the audience some of the experiences—some of the examples?


Jane Hyun:             Sure, I’ll tell you about—in Flex, there’s basically three concepts that I talk about. One is a main part of Flex, which is the power distance, the power gap, and let’s talk about that first.


So the power gap is the amount of distance that you place between yourself and people in positions of authority. So the authority figure could be a teacher, manager, boss, you know whoever you would put in that role, parent as well. And so you can have either a small gap in a power gap or you can have a lot. You know in Asian cultures we have a larger power gap right? And so we grow up having to respect our teachers, respecting our parents. And then typically in American culture, kids grow up as a little bit of a lesser gap, right? So yes that person’s your senior or your manager or your parents but you know sometimes you see them calling them by their first name and it’s okay. And in the workplace this translates into how you lead and manage people, right? So I think the power gap can really have an impact I think on how people understand those workplace relationships.


Another thing that I talk about a lot in the book is the concept of the fluent leader. It’s a leader who is able to flex and adapt his communication and leadership style to work with people who are different from him or her. And so fluent leaders have traits like adaptability, they understand the power gap and they can flex across that. They also are curious and demonstrate that curiosity and have a sense of unconditional positive regard. So those are some of the three or four traits that are the hallmarks of a leader like that.


So the book is really about management and leadership. How do you effectively work with someone who’s different and not be scared off. And not be in a negative place with them.


Michael Nguyen:  Hm I tried to find that link between your first book and your second book. So you’re saying your first book is about from the perspective of an Asian American and you said the second book is more about a bigger view of the management perspective, a leadership perspective, is that correct?


Jane Hyun:             That’s right, that’s right. And I kind of wrote it—you know the second book I definitely wrote it from the perspective that it’s not just about the employee that needs to adapt and flex, right? I’m saying that the manager if you’re really going to be proactive, you can do it too. Right? And that’s the whole concept.


It’s a little revolutionary, maybe even controversial in some ways. But I do believe the future leaders of tomorrow will be good at that. Will be really effective at knowing how to spot these differences and not being afraid of those differences but saying, “Wow, this new person on my time you know he’s a lot younger or she’s from a different culture and they don’t think like me, they don’t act like me. But you know I’m okay with that as long as they can get results. I want to figure out how to manage this person so he can be motivated to do that. And I’m going to see how I can adapt my style so I can get the best out of this person.” I think that’s the kind of leader we’re going to need for the next century. Someone who will really be more multicultural in their thinking and willing to flex to get what the results need to be.


Michael Nguyen:  Can you share with the audience some of your real world examples where a person with multiple—with different personalities and how can you bring the best out of them? Let’s say one of your teammates is you now let’s say shy and timid. How can you bring the best out of them and let her share her views and stuff?


Jane Hyun:             Sure and I’ll share an example and I think I’ve mentioned him in the book, his name is Rich Hill. He worked in financial services and he’s a senior vice president at one of the banks. And he had at one point a team of maybe about eight or nine analysts and he really did embody these flex principles in that even though those eight or nine people were very diverse—he had men and women, people from all ages, he had 22-year olds as well as 38-year olds on his team—he had people from all cultures and ethnicities on his team. He did realize that not everybody were that vocal, right? Who could bring their ideas to bare. And one of the colleagues we interviewed that was managed by him told me that Rich took him aside one day over lunch in kind of a casual conversation and made an observation and said, “You know what I noticed that you’re kind of quiet. You know I used to be quiet too and you know when we have these meetings you can’t be quiet, right? We need to make sure that your voice is heard so that here’s an idea for you. Think about what you might want to share and just—you just have to have one insight. You don’t have to have fifty thousand things to say but you just have to have one insight that you want to share with the group and I want you to share that.”


So that’s kind of how he taught him to be more effective in those meetings and I can tell you when I talked to this guy he was so grateful for the contribution that Rich made in his own career. Because when he started he was 23, 24 years old, really didn’t know that being quiet was a problem. He just thought that’s what he had to do. He was a junior guy and didn’t have to say anything. But when his manager told him so kindly that this was needed it was something really motivated him and said, “You know I think I’m going to try this. I feel safe. I feel that I can do this and demonstrate how I can be more of a leader.”


Michael Nguyen:  Okay, let’s dive a little bit about some of the things that I picked up from the books. Four stages—can you tell me about four different stages of a leader from your book?


Jane Hyun:             I think this is really important to understand you know these four styles or four stages. There’s four of them—I’m going to just name them for you—blind sided leader, the judging leader, the golden rule leader, and the fluent leader. And I’ll tell you quickly a description of each so that you have an idea of it. So the first one, the blind sided leader, is someone who feels that working with people who are different from you culturally or you know younger than you or older than you makes them uncomfortable. Maybe even they don’t even know, right? You know what these differences could look like. For someone like this, no news is good news. If nobody’s told you there’s any problems, there must be no problems right? If people haven’t complained about your style you must be doing all right. So that’s kind of the blind sided leader.


The second kind of style is the judging leader, the judging kind of a manager. And this is someone who basically finds that anybody who relates to you differently or acts differently is annoying. And you feel that you have a better way to do things right and so for example, maybe you think a women engineer can’t be as hard nosed and aggressive as the male counterpart. Or maybe you think you know these young Millennials, these Gen Y, they’re always texting. Are they getting any work done? So instead of really understanding what they offer as value, you just kind of judge them and kind of push them away. You may tolerate some difference but when push comes to shove, you know you have the right way to do things. That’s a judging leader.


Another type of leader is what I call the next style, the golden rule manager. And so these are folks who believe that yeah people might be different on the outside, yeah we look a little different, maybe we have some different cultural backgrounds, but we’re all human after all. And so you think that differences should be underemphasized or deemphasized and there’s only one template for managing people. You treat everybody the same. There’s only one method to do that.


And finally the last style is called the fluent leader. And I believe that when someone gets to this stage they are more able to flex, they’re more able to be more fluent. And this is a style of a leader that is more curious about individual differences across cultural, generational, and gender lines. So instead of resorting to stereotypes about these differences, you begin exploration and appreciating those differences and really individualizing the experience you have with them. You know how to flex across the power gap. You may take a chance with someone who’s different on a high visibility project even though that person’s never been tested. You’re willing to do that.


When I think about a fluent leader I think about inquisitiveness but respectfully. So you’re inquisitive but you’re doing it in a respectful way so you’re asking questions. So like Rich, he actually gave his employee feedback. It wasn’t easy feedback but he was very respectful about it and he was willing to help. I think there’s this desire to engage and help the other person and I think those are wonderful qualities. And I do believe can really engage the people who are sitting across from you at the table.


Michael Nguyen: Now when you explain how—


Jane Hyun:             Did that give you a little bit of an idea?


Michael Nguyen:  Absolutely, when you explained about those four stages I think that it just applied to everyone. I mean to every organization, every corporation no matter if you have diversity or not it all applies to you.


Jane Hyun:             Sure, sure, sure cause it’s not just about your individual people in the company, right? It could be maybe you have some clients, right? Maybe you have people who are outside the company that are your vendors or partners, right? Alliances. You kind of need to understand where they’re coming from, right? And you have to understand how to work best with them.


Michael Nguyen:  Give some tips on how they can move from the lower stage to—the fluent is what we try to do.


Jane Hyun:             In one minute or less right?


Michael Nguyen:  Yeah in one minute or less!


Jane Hyun:             You know it takes—there’s no easy way, right? To just learn how to do this over night. It actually takes time and really takes

motivation and interest on the person’s part to grow. And to

recognize, “Wow, I’m not at the stage I want to be. I want to be more effective with my teams especially because now they’re more diverse and multicultural and I have to work with people globally.”


So I want to just preface this—whatever tip I give you by saying

this is not done without hard work. Nothing can be changed or adapted in behaviors without real monitored hard work. So I would be cautious when someone says, “Oh look! Overnight I became a fluent leader.” I’d be very concerned about that.


One of the things that I think is very helpful that an individual

can do is to practice being curious. And so one thing you can do

is if you see—I think usually when people experience

multicultural difference or maybe with a different generation

person—you know they see something and they don’t understand why they do that. Right? You’ve met someone across a different culture and you’re like, “Why do they act that way? It’s not how I would respond.” Right? That was either too obnoxious or too strange or not how I would respond.


So whenever you see something like that I think instead of

judging or jumping to a conclusion, I think you need to step back

and ask yourself these three questions. One, what are they

thinking? Right? This is something you do quietly—kind of

reflecting to yourself. What are they thinking? What could be

driving this? Two, how can I connect with them? Right? How do I

build a bridge and connect with them. And three, how do I put

myself in their shoes so that I can—before I open my mouth and

before I can say something to build a bridge that I can truly put

myself in their mindset. You may not know what the mindset is

but I think it’s these three internal questions that if you ask

yourself this and just be very quiet—quietly consider this

when you do say something, you will practice that

respectfulness, right? You will have that curiosity, a natural curiosity versus a judging kind of quality that comes through.


So I think that that’s maybe a tip that I would give to anyone at any stage even if you’re a blind sided right? I think it’s a good advice for them.


Michael Nguyen:  Okay so three questions so number one, what are they thinking? And number two, what can I learn from that?


Jane Hyun:            That’s right, what can I do to connect with them?


Michael Nguyen:  And number three is how do I put myself in their situation.


Jane Hyun:            That’s right, that’s right. So just start to kind of  think about—visualize—the situation they might be in. Especially if they are acting in ways that you don’t understand and you want to help them and you want to understand why they’re doing that too.


Michael Nguyen:  All right let’s move on because there’s so many things—because the more you talk about, the more I’m curious and it’s never going to be enough!


Jane Hyun:            That’s right! Well we’ll have to do something next year! Some other topic, right?


Michael Nguyen:  Some other topic! Can you help the audience understand the connection between Flex Things in your book and the Diversity Challenge?


Jane Hyun:            Yeah I think it’s quite critical actually. So I think it’s no surprise when you look at the demographics, you know women make up certainly half of the workforce. Asians and multiculturals as well as Millennials make up a huge fighting power. Right? They’re becoming a large percentage of the marketplace. And there’s a lot of different studies that have shown that when you have a lot of diversity, especially certain types of diversity in your boardroom, you get more diverse thinking. You get more innovation as well so there’s a lot of positive impact when you are able to full engage the people on your team.


Now there’s a dark side to this in that the latest labor study that I saw—I think it was a Gallup study—that showed that if you don’t engage your employees there’s a risk of a loss of like $450 billion. Right? If you don’t fully engage the employees that you have. And so there’s a lot of costs to not fully engaging the people on your teams right? And so I think that if we can create individual managers who can be effective across these differences, it can be a really great start for developing the leadership skills that can help them become more effective organizations at the end of the day. It really is possible to develop this skill. It’s not something that people are born with. It’s something that needs to be worked on.


Michael Nguyen:  I read the Wall Street Journal the other day that start-ups in the Bay area such as Pinterest, Facebook, and Uber and things. They spend a tremendous amount of money and amount of resources to build a team just to engage with their employees or make them happy by having an enormous amount of perks like different playgrounds for them. I mean food or yoga classes that are just mediocre nowadays.


Jane Hyun:            Right, right. Yeah I think Google and other companies like that started it but I think many different tech companies have followed suit. Right? Having food on site and you know all that. So yeah those are definitely good benefits to offer. But I think you also need people who are managers who know how to manage well and lead well. Cause all that stuff is great but if you work for someone who’s a real rotten person and doesn’t give you the opportunity and doesn’t give you promotion then you’re not going to stay. At some point you’re going to say, “This is not the place I want to succeed in and have a career here.”


So I think that those tangible benefits are very good. I certainly wouldn’t take those away but I think that you also need to equip managers with the right type of skill set to better engage and retain and develop their talent.


Michael Nguyen:  Gotcha so the perks are not enough. Perks just enough to get you into the door but then the manager needs to up the skills a little bit.


Jane Hyun:            That’s right! That’s right, that’s right. I mean you have to be consistent with what you’re trying to say. And so your management behaviors—you know if you’re getting all this great food and you have yoga and all that kind of thing but no one is telling your manager that he’s abusing his employees. There’s some sort of disconnect there, right? There’s sort of a lack of accountability there. There’s sort of an integrity issue there from a company perspective. And so I think it’s really important that managers are held accountable for that and that individuals are cognizant of how to look out for the right management as well.


Michael Nguyen:  Nowadays with the global economy, you know the websites are just like freelancing and oh there’s an e-lance and things like that. The employees are a global workforce, how do they—what are some of the takeaways from your book in order to make the workforce more effective?


Jane Hyun:            Right, right. I think one of the things I would share because of the global workforce piece I think is very important for the flex leader is communication tips. Right? And working in those environments often are global and virtual in nature. And so you may work with a team of people that you don’t even see. Maybe you see them once a year if you’re lucky. Half the time you don’t have that, you have conference calls where there’s 15 people on the call and you don’t know who’s leading it and that kind of thing. So I think these kinds of virtual teams that are all over the world, they may have three different time zones, I think it’s very important that you rotate who gets to facilitate those calls that it’s not just US. That it’s not just the US time zone that they’re following. And that way you have different people form different backgrounds getting the opportunity to lead those meetings and lead those conference calls.


So that’s one way to do it and also the entire team is forced to adapt to different time zones too. Right? And it might be inconvenient one day for you but hopefully you’ll have to be on the good side on the other time as well. So I think that might be good and I think large groups are hard to work with virtually and so I think whenever you’ve got a large group, you’ll be good to think about doing some team building with a large group. And maybe breaking the group up into smaller sub groups of some way so you can create some other synergies that way too. So yeah lots of ideas there but I think virtual teams is definitely the way of the future. We’re going to have ore of that. There’s going to be a need to understand how to leverage that and definitely figure out ways to combine the in-person experience and building that as well as online experience as well.


Michael Nguyen:  Just pick one example, you’re from the States and one of your—the contractor you hired in India for example—how do you pick up those cultural cues that make them—that enables him to open up more or share with you more ideas that maybe he’s afraid to share?


Jane Hyun:            Yeah you know I think if you’ve never met the person it’s really hard to know because you don’t see the body language. I guess video’s a little easier so you can kind of truck those things out. I think that if you’re going to work with anybody more than 6 months you have to meet them. If it’s a 2-month project and it’s short, whatever, I think that’s fine. But if you’re going to have a long term—like a 9-month, 12-month relationship or a project that goes long—you have to spend some resources in meeting each other. Because nothing replaces that in-person conversation. And particularly if you go across cultures where so much is conveyed in the body language and the tone of voice and the indirect language. Right? All the things you’ve got to pick up to understand the context of things. You know many of the Asian cultures are high context cultures. Indian culture’s one. When it comes to conflict, they may be not as direct in dealing with conflict with you to your face.


So I think it’s important to understand those things. Again after you have those one in-person meetings, at some point of course you can go virtual and you can have those relationships but if you’re going to have a strong working relationship long term you’ve got to meet in person. Even for two days to have a meal together, to share your personal life a little bit, and see each other as more than just people you see on the phone, right? I think that’s very critical.


Michael Nguyen:  Gotcha, hm. Thank you for all the tips. It’s really helpful. Why do managers or upper management really care about upgrading their skills, learning how to flex?


Jane Hyun:            I think it’s about the future and the future of your workforce. So if managers did not do anything and didn’t flex, they would probably still have a job and still have a company and probably still have services to sell. But will they truly have engaged employees and will they truly keep their top talent? I think that what we’re going to find in the future is that the best talent will go to their places where they’re fully engaged and appreciated and where they will find management that will tap into their fullest potential and hear their voices so that their ideas will be heard as well.


So I do think it’s going to be increasingly important for managers to get that. I do think it’s about the future of where they will go. Again it’s nobody’s forcing them to do it but at the end of the day if you don’t want to have employees who have one foot out the door and not really interested long term in your company, it’s going to require you to think differently about leadership as well.


Michael Nguyen:  What are some of the frustrations that managers have to go through before they really tap into the concept of flexing. Some of the—I call the limiting beliefs that they have to pass through in order to open up?


Jane Hyun:            Well I think you have to go outside your comfort zone. You really do as with any new type of skill. So I mean similar to if you were learning how to ride a bike for the first time you know you’re scared out of your mind, you’re going to fall down. We probably forgot it because we were young when we did learn how to do that. But just like that when you’re starting to build a relationship with someone who’s different from you and trying to build rapport, it’s going to require you to go out of your comfort zone and you have to be okay with that.


So I think that that’s—and that’s a responsibility for all of us whether you’re of Asian descent or you are a white male, if you are from a different cultural background. I think we all need to go out of comfort zones to build relationships with people who are different from us. If our friendships are all from the same place and same background, not very exciting right? There’s so much richness that we can share with each other and America is the place where cultural difference is available. We can have these types of relationships and friendships with people from all parts of the world and we can get to know each other in deeper ways and I think that’s the richness of what we can have. Again it’s not just a workplace thing, it’s a personal enrichment process too.


Michael Nguyen:  Right, would you mind sharing some of the real-world examples of the pre- and after they learn the concept of flexing?


Jane Hyun:            Yeah I think that—you know without getting into a long story—I think the biggest impact that people have had is a lot of people who have learned to be more cross culturally or across differences more effective have learned that, “Wow! You know I didn’t know that I can ask these questions. I didn’t know that people were—had these differences in the way they talked and communicated and I learned a lot.” That’s what I really get more of, I rarely hear people say, “Oh I shouldn’t have done that.” It’s more of they should have done it earlier.


So I think that that says a lot I think about people. I think sometimes fear or personal protection keeps us from reaching out and really trying to build those bridges and I think we all need that more than ever.


Michael Nguyen:  What is one thing that you want to leave as a challenge to my audience today?


Jane Hyun:            Oh you make me think! I think the one takeaway that I would want to leave with your audience is think about building one relationship with someone that you’ve been wanting to know but that you haven’t that’s coming from some background that’s different from you. It could be from another ethnic background or cultural background. Maybe you don’t have a lot of friends that are men and you’re a woman. Maybe you have a lot of coworkers who are men but not women. Maybe there’s something there. Maybe if you’re an older worker maybe finding a colleague who’s younger to understand them better. Identify someone that you’d like to get to know and think about how you might learn to build a bridge with that person.


Michael Nguyen:     And guys if you are kind enough to take Jane’s challenge, Jane also has a gift for you. It’s that first individual who contacts her assistant—is that correct? To complete the Fluent Leader’s Inventory will receive a 30-minute debrief with Jane in 2015. Jane, thank you so much for the offer.


Jane Hyun:            Sure, sure let me give the email. So it’s So if you could email Lisa, the first one to do that after this is released will get that scheduled in 2015.


Michael Nguyen:  Jane, I know that you’re so generous with your time and we are exhausting our minutes over here. Just tell us the best way to find you and then we’ll say goodbye.


Jane Hyun:            Okay great. You can contact me at Okay? Well it’s great to be on the show Michael, thank you for having me.


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