Chloe Drew

We spoke with Chloe Drew about her experiences with coaching early on in life, the value of empathy in the workplace, and using self-skepticism to catch personal blind spots in a leadership role.
Chloe Drew:
That grounding in your values and principles again and again, every day can be the, okay, my feet are planted solidly on something and it allows me to make better decisions. And what I always say to leaders, when it comes to diversity inclusion, to bring it back to that is, it's a lens you apply to every single thing you do.

Jeff Hunter:
Hi and welcome. I'm Jeff Hunter, and you are listening to coaching in the clear, the podcast committed to help you learn about coaching. Coaching is more popular than ever, and we believe that sharing in depth, personal conversations about coaching experiences is the best way for you to learn whether coaching is for you and how you can get the most out of your coaching practice. We are especially interested in how people use coaching to unleash their potential while creating market leading big change businesses. Coaching in the clear is a production of talentism, a business dedicated to helping the world's most ambitious leaders achieve their ultimate goals by systematically turning confusion into clarity. We send out a weekly newsletter called the SenseMaker where we offer our latest thinking about issues affecting big change companies and their leaders, as well as provide other helpful content and enable you to unleash your potential.

Learn more and sign Today I'm speaking with Chloe drew. Chloe can spent the past 20 years achieving significant impact in both the corporate and political worlds in the areas of social justice, philanthropy, diversity, and inclusion. We'll discuss her first experience with a transformational coach and how it helped her find direction and purpose. You'll also review ways to make ourselves more coachable. Then we'll shift our reflections on empathy and creating safe spaces in the world of business and how critical this is in our current business environment. Finally, we'll explore how business leaders must challenge their blind spots around social, gender and racial inclusion by starting with more self skepticism. So Chloe, thank you so much. Joining me today on coaching in the clear I am so grateful that you've made time for us and just really appreciative of you making the space to have this conversation. So thank you.

Chloe Drew:
I'm really delighted to be part of this. Thank you for asking me Jeff.

Jeff Hunter:
Of course. So let's just start out with how you found coaching, everybody comes to be a part of a coaching experience in their own way. Some people have been athletes and got to know it that way, other people have just through being successful executives, but everybody sort of comes to it in their own way. And I'd love to hear your story. 

Chloe Drew:
Yeah, no. And I have experienced coaching, frankly, in both of those parts of my life and being. I ran cross country and track in high school and I was thinking, and sort of preparing to talk to you today. I was thinking about coach Cody, who was my cross country coach and track coach when I was 14 years old. And he sort of had a bunch of qualities that I think are good professional coaching qualities, good managerial qualities. And one thing that really struck me as I thought about him is he used to tell us running tips and sort of coach us real time in races, but he also ran with us and there was this feeling of hanging with the team, solidarity, literally sort of sweating in the hot summer with us. And then on race day, we were kind of on our own except he was there and, you know, every lap I would do or every sort of, you know, break in the trees or he'd pop out and yell something he was there.

And, you know, I think the important through line for me from sports coaching to professional coaching is the best of coaching wires in your very sort of cellular makeup and musculature, the better way of doing things. Because you're hearing feedback real time, you're then practicing it. You're screwing it up. You're getting more feedback, you're trying it again. And that's sort of the definition of sports coaching, at least in my life. And then the best kind of professional coaching had those qualities too. So that was sort of my high school years. And he's one of the most memorable coaches I had. And then I had three different sets of professional coaches. One was when I was a very young executive director of a nonprofit and I had a very young untested coach and she was, I would say sort of friend-like and her approach.

It was a weekly session for me to download, vent, get some tips on managing. I did not know how to manage at all. I manage this team and all these volunteers and this board, and she had some sort of valuable frameworks for me, but then I had this truly, truly transformational experience of spending time with a coach and Carol Morley who had the right approach for me at the time that I came to her because I was probably about 32 and needed to move on from the nonprofit that I was running, but didn't know who I was or what my skills were or sort of how to think about the change I wanted to make in the world. And it was this very rigorous, I mean curriculum is probably the best way to put it, of sort of soul searching, strength searching.

And we never talked about the job I wanted to have until one day it came to me as if it was sort of the hand of god, and I was brushing my teeth one morning and I realized, Oh, that's exactly what I want to do. And for the first time in my life, I had the idea of what I wanted to do and I went out and got the job and it was, and I really credit it to that, that coaching experience. And of course I've had my most recent, incredibly, incredibly valuable, critical lifeline experience with Doug at Talentism, which was very different, very important and suited what I needed at that moment, because I was in, I would frankly just call it a professional crisis. And he was my life raft, kind of got me to calmer shores. And then as sort of now, even helping me think about what the next phase looks like.

Jeff Hunter:
So that's wonderful. So let's pick up on something there. So you're talking about what coaching is both in different sorts of forms and also at coaching at different parts of your career or life. One of the things I've been talking to people about is what are the essential sort of elements of a coachable person? What is it that makes you want to be coached and what makes you successful in coaching? Because you've had what sounds like four successful coaching sort of engagements in your life, very different, very different approaches, different people, different times of your life. And yet the sort of through line of all of that is you. So what do you think makes a coachable person?

Chloe Drew:
It's funny, I love this question and I've started  coaching just as a pro bono offering to the world, two women, one who works for a startup for-profit enterprise and one who works for a nonprofit. And I've been thinking about that a lot, cause one is a more difficult engagement than the other. I think that coming to coaching with an, you know, such a cliche, but sort of openness and vulnerability, which means different things to different people, but a real willingness to be bare and introspective and absorb and think to really look squarely in the mirror at things that you're not doing particularly well. I think those are some really important sort of foundational elements. I think eagerness to, I would say curiosity about the world and curiosity about yourself, curiosity about other people. And, you know, I don't think that I'm particularly good at this, but I think someone who, I'm not sure if this makes you more or less coachable, but someone who I think does well in coaching someone who's forgiving to themselves, kind to themselves, because, you know, at some point you want to sort of absorb lessons, absorb mistakes, and then call that solid foundation of things learned and then kind of move on and say, well, that's solid.

I, you know, good scar tissue gained and now we're gonna move on to the next lesson, the next challenge. So I think those are some qualities and I'm observing those in these two women I'm coaching, one who has a tougher skin for lots and lots of reasons that I really understand. And the other who is much more vulnerable and feels really open. She feels to me like she's at an inflection point.

Jeff Hunter:
One of the things we talk about a lot at Talentism is that there's in essence, every one of us has our own unique path to our own individual form of excellence and excellence has certain components to it and as you've heard us talk about, but that being on that path to finding what you're truly great at what your greatness is and uncovering that is a difficult journey. There are some people who are there who are cheering you along, but a lot of people who are doubting you, including often yourself, and you're trying to make sense of everything that's happening around you. And because we all have these brains that are pretty confusion oriented, they tell us we're good at things we're not really good at, they tell us we're bad at things we're not really bad at, you know, et cetera.

And we're always sort of feeling both under threat and trying to realize the opportunity of our greatness. It's just such a confusing sort of thing. And for some, what my experience has been for somebody to engage with coaching well, at least in clarity coaching, our particular form of coaching, there's been these elements I've been talking about in the podcasts about hunger and humility, that there's this sort of inner drive somewhere that can at least be tapped into. It doesn't have to be evident on the face or when the person comes to the coaching engagement. But there has to be this drive in there somewhere to want to learn about oneself about the world and about the connection between those two things. And there has to be a basic fundamental humility in that action, because as you just said, which I thought was beautiful, there's a humility, there’s a vulnerability to it.

There's a sort of curiosity to it. And I think humility, this sort of belief, the skepticism of like, well, maybe I don't know all the answers and maybe you know, maybe I am the thing that's standing in the way of my own success and how would I possibly work through that? How would I think through that? Those seem the attributes that really come through and yet in something you just said, it just struck me the forgiving of themselves. I think that's so incredibly powerful connecting to self-acceptance because, you know, our minds don't want to, basically as biological entities, we don't like pain and we do like pleasure, not as a surprise. Nothing profound about that statement. But then if you sort of dig a little deeper underneath that you think of, well, what are the things that cause me pain that my mind would want to back away from or avoid?

And one of the things that causes us pain is our own self judgment, our own, you know, our own internal critic. And when our internal critic is in there, the voice of the internal critic is in there saying that we suck at something or that we really are a mess. It actually doesn't make that problem better. It may, it actually accentuates the problem, creates pain barrier around it. And so we won't approach it. And so that problem starts to get worse in fact, instead of better. And I love the way you said forgiving of themselves, because that basic act of having the humility flow into that self compassion, I think is so, so incredibly important. How have you, you've worked with a lot of incredible people throughout your career. How have you seen if at all powerful people in, in the highest levels of leadership, have you seen them apply that sort of lesson if at all, or do you think that's something that might be lacking?

Chloe Drew:
Self-Forgiveness? You know, my sense, I guess a couple things. One is I don't think we talk about it enough. And so, as I think through the mentors and leaders, I've known the best intimately, I think it's something that I've heard people talk about a little, but not nearly as much as they should. And it's interesting, I've been, I'm very into podcasts, which makes this extra fun to do. And I've been sort of, ravenously consuming podcasts of leaders, masters of scale by Reid Hoffman, leadership next. So I've just been listening to a lot of CEOs tell their stories. And I think, you know, the sort of notion of failure is the new black. Everybody's now talking about their mistakes. Everybody's talking about self forgiveness and it's enormously inspiring, but it's also soothing. You know, it sort of helps to hear other people say, Oh God, I was terrible with that.

I just pick myself back up again and, you know, took my lumps and kept on moving. So all that to say, I don't know that I've heard intimate leaders talk about it, but I do think that one of the ways that I've seen people manage their mistakes and failures and sort of find ways of forgiving themselves and moving on is to have a really strong sense of purpose. And I'm thinking of, as in, why am I doing this? For whom am I doing this? And okay, that hurt, but it's really not about me. And I'm thinking of my, one of my very first bosses, Congressman Barbara Lee from Oakland, California who, I mean talk about pain. She was getting death threats when I met her, she cast a very unpopular vote and she had two full time bodyguards. And she was getting very threatening phone calls and nervous for her life.

And a lot of lesser people would have said, screw this. You know, I don't need this. I can make change in other ways, but she, it was this higher order sense of I'm doing this for the people of the ninth district of California. I'm doing this for my mother. I'm doing this for all single moms who grew up in public housing. I mean, it was a really profound sense of connectedness to something much bigger than herself. And I think that lifted her out of a lot of the kinds of wallowing, self pitying moments that other people might find themselves in.

Jeff Hunter:
Yeah. I love that connection to purpose to a broader sort of perspective to help us get through those difficult times. Something that I was thinking while you were talking is this thing that I used to talk a lot to my kids about actually, and I don't know that I used extensively in my coaching, but using the metaphor of a book as a way to describe your life and sort of put yourself in the narrative. And what I would talk about is look your life as a book, and you don't know when it's going to end. And then where we typically get confused is that we are involved in a sentence when we need to be looking at the chapter, or we need to be looking at the overall narrative arc. We need to see that there are ups and downs, and we need to see that the downs always proceed the ups and the ups always proceed the downs.

That's just the way a narrative works. And then we're all living some version of that narrative. And when you read a book that you really love, what you come to understand is first of all, deep empathy for the character going through it, and you should have that empathy for yourself, but also you don't get caught up in particular flaws per se, but just in how that fits into the overall sort of flow of how this character is progressing. And so there really aren't like these devastating weaknesses or these glorious strengths. There's just this story that's progressing over time, where put in the right context of a larger chapter or a section or the overall book itself, makes a lot of sense. And they aren't devastating. But if you're reading the paragraph where the mistake happens, it can be, it can be extremely involving and extremely devastating. And so one of the things I think good coaches do as well as good friends and anybody in a relationship is help you pull out of the paragraph and start to see the book and see, you know, that this thing isn't as devastating itself. And I think that's something that good coaches can do to sort of give people perspective. Because it's so easy for each of us just in the way we're wired to lose perspective on where we are in that, in that overall narrative arc.

Chloe Drew:
I love that. I mean you know someone with little kids and we read a lot of books and we think a lot about stories, you know, and one of the things that the appreciating the arc of a chapter slash a month, or even a week in in one's life and for little kids probably a week is about as much as they can handle. It actually does force different perspectives for sure and gratitude, you know, all of the golden moments of my week, add up to something more beautiful than, you know, I had a crappy morning, I'm devastated and I just threw my blocks on the floor and I hit my brother. But if you can sort of appreciate, actually this was a pretty good week. So I'm going to use that Jeff, I like that.

Jeff Hunter:
Great. And the other thing I used to like to say for whatever it's worth is trust me, the best chapter is ahead of you. And usually that's true. So listen, I want to turn the conversation a little bit because there's something I've been, I've just been really excited to talk to you about which is the current environment of calling for racial and economic justice, calling for, going from the me too movement through the black lives matter movement through what's happening in boardrooms and executive meetings right now. And the reason I was so excited to talk to you about this because as a diversity and inclusion specialist, somebody lives your life and your passion in helping to write these wrongs and make companies better as a result of the work you do. I was dying to understand your perspective on this moment in time, and also to understand how coaches can play a role in this moment in time.

Chloe Drew:
Yeah. You know, it's sort of a moment in a movement, perfectly suited to a coaching sensibility. We've seen other movements for sure. My parents have seen more than I have, but I've seen my fair share of what feel like, you know, I remember in the Gulf war, I mean, there were big street manifestations. So I've seen mobilization before, but what I've never seen is, and I see it frankly, more now with black lives matter than I saw it with me too, even though I saw some of it, is a level of personal introspection, personal accountability, and real pausing to think about, no, it is not in fact the job of young people of color to change the world. It's impossible, by the way, we've now seen that. I am as a white person, culpable, even if I'm not doing something that's overtly racist.

And I think a lot of white people have a really hard time with the word racist or anti-racist, it suggests something to them that feels sort of intentionally evil, actively evil, but I think we're sort of understanding it better. And so I think for coaches, it's this fascinating moment, like let's just take CEOs or top leaders of any enterprises, for coaches to help those people understand in whatever way, where does your story intersect with the ability to understand equity? What is your personal experience or experience of your child or your mother with inequality or unfairness. And I think that's a first important place to start. When did you feel excluded? Well, interesting. I'm a white guy, but I felt excluded because you know, my dad was an alcoholic and he was a vet and we couldn't talk about it as a family.

And we had experiences at home that were violent, upsetting, and it was really, it was a secret and I had to cover that and I it was a secret burden and it still gives me a, you know, a pain in my chest, and a coach can then help that leader appreciate, that's what Kenji Yoshino would call covering or that's what an inclusion person would call sort of subsuming your identity, and can you imagine how a person of color might feel that everyday? Cause they actually can't even cover as much, but that clench in your chest and that pit in your stomach, didn't that make it hard when you felt that way, didn't make it hard to bring your full self to work and didn’t it make it hard for you to perform at your maximum ability. Didn't you feel your words getting caught in your throat?

You don't want anyone at your job and workplace to feel that way. How do we create an environment where people don't have to hide essential parts of themselves, beautiful sides, unfortunate sides, shameful sides, ugly sides. And so let's start talking tactically now about what does that mean and how do we build that? But I think people tapping into their own human experience because I would sort of suggest there's not a single person on earth who was not experienced at moments, feelings of lack of belonging. And I think coaches are really well suited to bring people through that journey of empathetic understanding.

Jeff Hunter:
Yeah. I love that. So there's another topic I've been covering, that's connected to this. I would, I would just love your perspective on this and I'm approaching this you know, as people, I think we'll hear through the course of the podcast that we've been recording, I'm approaching this from a perspective of, I am just blind. And I think that connects to what you're saying. I'm sure I have done things that either appear or are in fact intentional that have hurt others or have created divisions between myself and others. I'm confident. I've done that, but I think the insidious nature of this thing is actually more, devastation happens because of leaders blind spots than their overt actions. And it builds in these sort of systemic biases in the way this entire sort of business world works.

That keeps reinforcing the privilege of the people who currently have it. And regardless of getting into it, I'm not trying to make an argument or any moral argument of whether that's right or wrong. I think it hurts. I think it hurts businesses. I think that it creates fragility in the way they operate that then eventually will show up in their inability to compete in their inability to actually be the kind of place that people want to buy from. Because I think consumers are increasingly voting their values with their dollars and that this is just a reality that the C suite has to deal with. And they can either deal with that as a laggard to saying, Oh, geez, I just gotta do this. Or they can understand that they have invested in the human capital of their organization and they're just not getting everything they can out of it because of the way they operate and because of the way they design their jobs and the way they go, you know, source new hires and onboard and do all sorts of different things, all of which create in effect unsafe spaces for people to bring this entire sort of capability that we all aspire to bring to our work, but it doesn't create a safe environment for somebody to be able to do that. When you're talking to an executive about DNI and about their role and just about not only connecting at the empathetic level, which you so beautifully described, but also at the operational level, what are some of the things that you would tell an executive they need to be looking at?

Chloe Drew:
You know, we've applied design thinking to the customer experience for a long time now. You know, I love the example of Southwest that is famous for thinking through, I don't know if they'd call them moments that matter or moments of truth, but sort of every time that a customer touches Southwest, there's a moment to feel great, or there's a moment to feel, gosh, that didn't really meet my standards or made me feel like this is a brand and a company that I want to fly with. And they've now pivoted that thinking to their employee experience. And I think we just haven't done enough of that nor have we, I think carefully enough segmented the customer base to appreciate different kinds of customer experiences, but let's just sort of take employees for a moment. I think too few companies have said let's plot from the moment we think about the kinds of talent that we need in the building, to how we find that skillset and that perspective and that background, to how we recruit them, how we onboard them in all of the different moments that matter in their life with us, what's going to build an experience where they feel that their talent can be unlocked, that they can speak up with creativity and innovation, that they are supported in moments where they might be having a baby or get sick, or one of volunteer in the community.

And, you know, I think blind spots to me have always let people off the hook a little too much, as in I think I'm sort of over that notion. I think there's a required spirit of inquiry that we've all been reminded of as in, it is incumbent on us to think about the people around us. Think about, do I in fact have a diverse workplace and a diverse social circle. And if I don't let's make it so, and there's ways to do that. I think most white people now are stunned by these numbers. Most white people simply do not have diverse social circles, let alone diverse workplaces. Most white people live for most of their lives in white worlds. And it's very hard, I think, to empathize and experience other people's lives. If you don't know people who don't look like yourself, but I think once you can, once you've diversified your worlds really ask people, what is your experience? What is getting in your way? And then to your point about search of systemic and structural operational individual inclusive behaviors are essential, but the machine has to disrupt biases and enforce inclusion, enforce objectivity recruiting as sort of a classic HR mechanism where there's so many moments where there can be bias that's baked in or inclusion that's introduced. So I would sort of take that as a classic kind of HR phase, but there's many, many other moments of the employee life cycle as well.

Jeff Hunter:
So I'd like to pick up on that and go to something that I'm very, very curious about, and this is relevant to clarity coaching. So clarity coaching is very much focused on the unleashing of potential, the belief that everybody has greatness within them. And that because of the way the system works and not just racial and economic injustice, just about the way we think about ourselves and people in general and the way our brain works, that very few of us ever get to tap into that and find it. And that if you truly want to make a difference in the world, you gotta be in the business of trying to change that system that prevents people from finding and unleashing that potential. And one of the things we know about people who achieve incredible things, just incredible things. You talked about Barbara Lee earlier, somebody I admire greatly.

They go through extremely difficult circumstances and those circumstances test them and they learn as a result of that. And sometimes that's because they put themselves in those circumstances, they push themselves to try something they've never tried before, many times it's because they're tested because the world just doesn't make sense and it doesn't work. It doesn't work well to unleashing our potential, it can be very harsh and it can be extremely confusing. And so there's this concept that we bring to coaching where we're trying to create this idea of safety and this idea of psychological safety, not just to the coaching experience, but helping leaders understand how critical that is for them to achieve their goals, creating the sense of safety and belonging and inclusion, and being heard, and from everybody in their workforce and their workspace and bringing even more diverse and more you know, more pointed voices into that conversation.

And at the same time, what I've found is safety often gets interpreted as comfort. It often gets interpreted as, okay, you're safe. If you don't feel any sort of challenge or threat, et cetera. And there are times when people are feeling that challenge or threat, and it is because something is terrible and it's wrong and it's unjust and needs to be called out. And there's times we're feeling that cause we're confused. And we're afraid like we've been given a job we don't know if we could do. We could you know, we're wondering if we're up to it and we have all these internal narratives and doubts that all human beings have. How do you think about that concept of pushing people to greatness and enabling them to unleash their potential while at the same time creating a safe workspace?

Chloe Drew:
Yeah, it's such a good, it's such a good framework. And I think this is one of those important cultural elements of an organization that has to be so much more than words because lots of organizations would say that they believe in being a learning culture and being a risk-taking culture, but then it really has to manifest itself in a way that we give people opportunities, give them feedback about how things went, allow them to speak up themselves about their own kind of self-critique and I mean, sort of constructive self-critique and then continue to give them opportunities. And it's funny, I keep on in this conversation, Jeff thinking about running a race and athletics and the cultural things on a team that make it possible to really screw up a race. I mean really screwed up even in a relay.

I mean, the horrifying thing when you're a runner is being a relay and letting the whole team down, cause you didn't on your leg, pull through in the seconds that you told them you would, but if you can culturally build in a team enough safety that you've literally observed everyone else's mistakes. And you've literally picked yourself up off the mat and gotten back on the track the next day and cheer each other on-again, those kinds of qualities brought to a workplace can create an experience that certainly I had in high school and college of feeling like I still belonged, even though I'd screwed up and kind of this healthy discomfort and this healthy indignation and how could I have done that? And I'm going to get back on the track and I'm going to crush it today and didn't always work, but there was something culturally true on the team.

So all that to say that was long-winded, but I think that there can be things that, and I would say, and this is something that is a truism that I actually believe in, that culture has so much to do with what the leader does. Every single place I've ever worked in government and politics and in the private sector, culture flows right from the top. And it's, I heard this wonderful interview with Mary Barra at GM, who said she came on board and then fired all of their cultural consultants, fired all of them and said, culture is not a strategy. It's how I show up and what I do every day. It's what I model. It's what I reward and give feedback and demand of my deputies. And it's what they then do to their deputies and their deputies. And I really liked that notion of it's it's the actions that you do.

It's as a leader, I tried something and you know what, that was the wrong decision. And I'm going to tell my team that it was the wrong decision and we did it with the best information we had at the time, but here's what we learned and we're going to pivot and I want everyone's input as we pivot. And I want to apologize for that because, you know, maybe I missed something and, you know, I acted too quickly, but we've gotta be the kind of place where we make decisions and we learn from them and we keep it moving. And then the leader then has to not just share that they did that, but also in my opinion, really create an environment through allowing other people to take risks, not punishing them, allowing them the freedom to admit where they went sideways or went well and continue to give people opportunities.

And one thing to sort of bring it back to the DNI piece, there's data that shows that people of color experience having to prove themselves again and again and again. And there's an experience that their white colleagues have that is being given more opportunities based on potential and then feeling like they've reached a sort of safe plateau and they don't have to keep on climbing up the mountain again and again and again, and talk about the lack of psychological safety. That's exhausting to have to continuously prove that you can do it.

Jeff Hunter:
Yeah. I think from my conversations again, through the podcast and many conversations outside and coaching circumstances, non coaching circumstances, just this deep humility I'm trying to bring to this experience of hearing things from people I've worked with for awhile, people of color, or of like, I have to prove myself all the time. And not just hearing that, but feeling that and feeling what it must be like to be in a position where you aren't given the benefit of the doubt. And you aren't assumed because you have the right skin color or the right gender or the right orientation or the right pedigree or whatever it is to be better than, which is frankly the nature of, of my privilege. And I have to constantly search into that and be open to that and expose myself to the fact that I'm just not, I didn't get it.

I just didn't get it. And I'm so grateful now that I'm having these conversations with so many people who are helping me get it, or at least beyond the beginning of that path. One of the things you just said that I wanted to pick up on a little bit, at least something that I've shared with the CEOs I've worked with, CEOs I've worked with for an extended period of time and earlier in my career, I spent a fair amount of time in the world of recruiting and hiring. And the data's very clear that most senior executive hires fail. Like the failure rate is 49%, according to some surveys it's 57% according to other surveys, but it isn't great. And of course, most of those executive hires when you break them down by gender and race, et cetera, they're straight white men.

And one of the things I've tried to take my, the CEOs I work with through is just take bad hiring experiences had where they've hired a C suite position and it didn't work out and help them understand the following. First of all, that they actually have given over their judgment about what is required for somebody to be successful in a job, sort of given that over to the admissions committee of Harvard and prestigious institutions. Like if they got in there, they must be good here, when in fact there's almost zero correlation between those two things. And definitely no causation. They’ve said, if you were successful at this kind of job, you must be successful here. They've done a whole bunch of things where the hiring managers, the CEO has bought into a narrative that prior experience pedigree different successes is a good indicator of future success.

And the reality is most of the time it's not, that's what that data means, it's at best 50-50, and sometimes it's worse. And so if you're going to be flying blind, quote unquote, in a hiring situation, but you really are whether you know it or not. And then once you make a bad decision, a bad hiring decision, you're going to invest a ton of time trying to fix it, which they all do. They all spend a lot of time in remediation and in their conflict averse, or they're trying to not engage in the situation. And then it goes on forever and on average it goes 12 to 18 months of displeasure and bad conversations, et cetera. I said, if you take a look at all the time, you invested in trying to recover the bad hire, wouldn't it be better to invest that time and taking somebody who doesn't have that pedigree and didn't have those prior job experiences and doesn't come through the classic sort of sourcing mechanism that reinforces privilege.

Wouldn't it be better to take somebody outside of that sort of channel and invest the same amount of time you're going to spend in a bad hire and make them a great hire, same amount of time. It's the same amount. I'm not asking you to invest more. I'm asking you to change your perspective about what continually gets you into this bad spot and how you continually waste time trying to institutionalize this badness as opposed to break through it, and give yourself competitive advantage as a result, because the person you do that for is actually probably going to be incredible. And I found that to sort of get to them, but they sort of start to see it, cause I can pull up various cases that I've worked with them on so they can see how they've been burning that time, just to sort of go along with the current methodology. Do you see things like that experience, things like that when you're doing your work with leaders?

Chloe Drew:
Absolutely. And I think there's a few things that show up. And I love the way you put all of that. I think one thing I see is it is just subconsciously so much more comfortable to hire people who, with whom you feel comfort. And you talked about this a little while ago, but that comfort is not necessarily good for organizations and fancy credentials can serve as a security proxy. You know, I don't really recognize this person. This person doesn't look like me. They didn't play squash or they didn't do whatever. I'm not trying to sort of create some waspy sport category by the way. But because I feel a little uncomfortable because I don't see myself in this person's path, these fancy degrees, give me a sense of security that I'm probably okay by hiring this person. And that often turns out to not be true.

And, you know, there's lots of data on other qualities that are much more important, like persistence and grit. And I think that's something that particularly is important when you do young hires, but I think it's important with more senior hires too. I think the second thing is, I think we were kind of heading towards this and you've got at this point, Jeff, with your comfort comment, I would love to understand more what you're seeing CEOs say isn't working in those 18 months, because one thing I've seen is what isn't working is I would call it healthy friction, it's friction, but it actually may be really good for the organization. You know, there's a lot of analysis after 2008, about what would have been different. Had there been less homogeneous boards and less homogeneous executive teams would harsher questions have been asked, you know, the CEO puts his buddies on the board.

They're just going to ask and I'm using him deliberately. They're going to ask him less tough questions because, you know, well, I know Paul and we go to the same golf club and I trust him and he made the last four decisions that I liked and trusted. Had there been someone who wasn't part of the inner circle and wasn't part of the club who frankly just had a little less to lose, would that person have asked questions that didn't feel great to Paul, but that may have prevented global financial meltdown. That's just one example, but we're in another crisis now where, you know, I've certainly observed different perspectives, backgrounds, experiences, add healthy, you know, there can be a grading quality to some of the questions, but they're important and they're central, you know, I think yeah, so I would, I would completely agree with you there.

Jeff Hunter:
So, I've truly had the great, good fortune to work with many, many extraordinary CEOs, extraordinary leaders both in commercial contexts, artistic, political and try to always say the same thing as if first of all, if I could give you any gift, it would be the gift of self acceptance. So much of what's going on around you right now is really a result of the fact that you just can't deal with your own shit. And then I said the second thing is if you end up in a bad situation at some point in the future, it may be because you didn't see it today, you have a blind spot, but it's probably because you didn't have the courage to have a conversation. And so if I could just have you do those two things like just self-acceptance and have the conversation.

And of course we try to teach skills towards having more productive conversations, how to enter those with a sense of humility, as opposed to aggression, et cetera. But at the end of the day, every bad hire, you know, the takes that 12 to 18 months, they always know it after three months, it's uncanny. It doesn't sort of, you know, slowly unwind. It happens after three months and then rather than sit down and have the conversation of, I leader am confused. Because I expected A, and I was seeing B, what am I missing? They don't want to have that conversation. And so it sort of starts to calcify the problem. And then the longer the problem goes on, the harder it is to talk about, because you're not talking about one little incident, you're talking about five big incidents and it's just a complete mess.

And I think that's just basic hygiene for any good relationship is that you're actually having good open communications quickly. And then the other thing I'd say about the leaders I've worked with is I think they aspire to, they really do truly aspire to greatness. They truly do aspire to build something that's amazing, but when the critical point comes where they have to hold themselves to a higher standard in order to exhibit and demonstrate, as you said through the culture, that that's what matters, that leaders eat first to use Simon Sineck phrase and that they, demonstrate actually, you know, what editor leaders eat last, that's the Simon Sineck phrase. And they demonstrate through their actions what matters. Are they going to actually hold themselves accountable for high standards? Are they going to be public in their self critique? Are they going to have the courage of their convictions about that? Especially when it applies to themselves.

These are, to me, the critical questions of leadership that face us in the current moment and frankly in all moments, but especially right now. And I think coaches can help with that. Obviously that's one of the reasons coaches are there, but at the end of the day, it's just gonna be, you gotta jump, you gotta just do it. And there's no amount of tweaking it or writing it or prepping for it. That's gonna make that an easy experience to do, take personal responsibility as a leader, to talk openly, engage with your failures and then do the hard work of constantly having the difficult conversations so that you can learn and make the thing better. It's just an ongoing, it just, it just sucks, but it's the work that has to be done if you want the privilege of leadership. So that's basically how I've experienced.

Chloe Drew:
One of the things that I found the most moving that I've seen over the past three months is the way that, and this is as an outside observer. So, you know, I didn't work at Airbnb, but I so appreciated the way the CEO, Brian Chesky talked about. I'm going to need to jump. We're going to need to move fast, but we've got to do it with some principles in mind. And he wrote down, you know, about four or five, six things that were going to be the lens that he applied to everything they did. And I think in moments of crisis, that can be incredibly powerful because a deep involved strategy for everything is going to be impractical. But if you say we're going to hold inclusion, belonging, and diversity, top of mind, every single stage, we're going to remember that our most important stakeholders are our employees and our customers.

And we want to go above and beyond to take care of them. I'm making it up. That grounding in your values and principles again and again, every day can be the, okay, my feet are planted solidly on something and it allows me to make better decisions. And what I always say to leaders when it comes to diversity inclusion, to bring it back to that is, it's a lens you apply to every single thing you do. It's not something that shows up in recruiting. And then maybe at performance evaluation time, it's something that you have literally almost as I was imagined sort of as a note card that you sort of glanced to the right glance to the left, is inclusion and diversity and belonging showing up in the way that I'm making any business decision, any firing decision, any new product development decision, because it shows up everywhere. It's the thing that makes your people feel like they belong. People broadly defined your customers, your employees, and, you know, going back to Brian, he was able to make some very, very tough decisions that his people, customers, hosts employees, if not entirely forgave him for often did forgive him for, but also understood because they saw his framework, they saw his humanity and they said he tried to do his level best to make decisions based on something that he believed in.

Jeff Hunter:
Yeah. I thought what Brian did, I don't know Brian to be clear, but I thought Brian did it was extraordinary. The other thing that I saw at the beginning of COVID was when the gentlemen, I think was the head of Marriott, he recorded that video communication to everyone and then sort of broke down in the middle of it. The authenticity of that moment I thought was extraordinary. And I think it connects to something you said earlier, which is it's so hard to be a leader right now. I'm not dismissing all the privilege that comes with that, with those roles. But it's so hard because the world is changing so rapidly and they both have to be following it and leading it at the same time. And in the midst of that, this whole concept we've got of a leader's strength and never admit a weakness and all that stuff.

I'm not sure that was ever great advice. It certainly was a toxic culture, but it really doesn't work now. It just doesn't right? All the people who now are saying, Hey, listen, I think I'd rather stay at a Marriott because of that leadership. Because what that leader did that moment of vulnerability, and it has to be authentic, right? I know a lot of good actors who are CEOs, but you're not that good and you're not going to be able to pull that off. So just being vulnerable in that moment, like, wow, I'm so sorry. I'm a part of the suffering that you're experiencing. And I commit to the values and principles that you're talking about, Chloe, that will make this better. And right now we have to do this thing. I just think that people are going to gravitate to those leaders.

They're going to build better organizations. And I don't just mean that in the sense of a better branded organization, I just think they're going to operate better. I just think they're going to be better investments. I think they're going to have outsized returns. I think they're going to unleash potential that frankly, you know, people may be paying for it, but they're not experiencing because of their bad management leadership practices. And so I'm excited about the work that you're doing, the work we're doing to try to help companies see that and deal with this moment. 

Chloe Drew:
Totally agree.

Jeff Hunter:
All right. Well, Chloe, thank you so much for your time. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. I've loved this conversation and just deeply and profoundly grateful for really

Chloe Drew:
This was really fun and so grateful to what you're doing. I mean, you're such a role model to me, Jeff, and the whole Talentism team. You're playing a very important role right now. So thanks for having me on.

Jeff Hunter:
Thank you very much. Coaching in the clear has been a production of Talentism. It was recorded, mixed and edited by 46 ad studios, original music by John Hunter. If you found this podcast valuable, please share on social media and make sure to leave a review to support this podcast. Please sign up at There you will find important content and up to date insights on how to unleash your potential. Thank you so much for listening.

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