Be The Leader You Dreamed Of With Signe Korjus

Leave your emotions at the door!

Your personal life is your problem. Be Professional. Just get on with it.

These are statements that we’ve probably all heard.  

In the old factories they made sense. We could press buttons as we stifled sobs and anxieties. Today though, they don’t work.

When we separate who we are, from what we do, we have a soulless, passionless job.

In today’s Unified Team Podcast episode I was talking to Signe Korjus.  

Signe helps leaders lead in the way they dreamed of. By connecting them to their own source of wisdom and power. So they have the confidence to grow.



Signe: [00:00:00] I’m a holistic leadership coach, which means that my focus is leadership and leaders. But the holistic means that I approach the person as a whole. We can’t really separate, private life, a personal life and work life. It’s all one life that we live. But it’s also the different dimensions within ourselves, we can’t separate the mind from the heart, or we can’t separate the body from the mind, it’s all one holistic system that we operate in.

Signe: In some occasions, we might start off with a leader with a cognitive issue. But we actually come down to, it’s about their sleep, their exercise, their nutrition or whatever it is, and also solving some issues. You can talk through some things, but some other challenges you need to feel through.

Signe: So this is what the holistic kind of means there that I’m equipped with Cognitive tools questioning, smart questioning. But I’m also equipped with a lot of NLP tools. I’m a big fan of NLP. And when it’s appropriate, when the client is really up for that some bodily tools, [00:01:00] the simplest being breathing or a very short meditation or some sort of, sensory work, what they do in related to mind, mindfulness, et cetera.

Rob: That makes me curious about how did you come to that holistic element? 

Signe: I’ve been fascinated with the brain overall. And I’ve been studying, educational science from the perspective of the IQ development. And I also studied leadership in my MBA studies, but at some point I started to realize that it’s more to that than our mind. And this led me to study NLP. And through NLP, I actually understood that even though NLP is brain centered, you can’t separate the body from it. So like our physiology, is tightly related to our emotional reactions and the other way around.

Signe: So this is how I came to it and NLP studies opened up the world for me that it’s not just the mind and it’s just not just the brain. I continued with some other holistic teachings [00:02:00] like the seven habits of highly effective people, which talks about the four dimensions of the person, the mind, the heart, the body, and the spirit.

Signe: And them all being interconnected and also then added my personal understanding and experience and perception of life, being a woman, being more emotional than rational often, but I don’t think I’m different from any men in this sense. This brought me to the conclusion that you need to address all dimensions to actually solve an issue at hand.

Rob: That’s interesting because you had me right at the explanation of holistic when you said you said you can’t separate the personal from the private or the personal from the emotional. 

Rob: Yet so much in business is you need to be professional. You need to leave your emotions at the door. It’s just not biologically possible.

Rob: I’m interested in if you could talk us through maybe you had the feeling already, but somehow you needed to study it to feel, if we just go back, if you yeah [00:03:00] so what was your experience and prior to having that?

Signe: I think you actually were spot on with this professionalism cult even I would say, as far as I can remember, I have always been asked to be professional in my work life. And just jumping into today, I always advise organizations that be really careful about emphasizing professionality, because this means that you leave passion out of the door, but most organizations actually want people to be passionate about the work about their mission about their teams, etc. So I can remember this emphasis on professionalism. ever since I took on a managerial role very early in my career. Just six months into my career. I wanted to become a manager.

Signe: I was really young. I wasn’t very well regulating my own emotions, not to mention the ones of the team. So it started off as a stressful journey because I had this emotional response to pretty much [00:04:00] anything, being excited about something, a new thing to take on or being frustrated, not meeting a goal, but this sort of wasn’t allowed.

Signe: And this built up this tension inside me. And and at some point I realized that I can’t do this, I need to Find a way to integrate, to be professional, and be human. Emotionally human, or humanly emotional, also on the side. Just like any EQ starts from understanding your own emotions. And then regulating them and then understanding other’s emotions and then regulating your impact on others.

Signe: The same started with me. First, I totally started allowing myself these emotions. I’m really upset with something or I’m really excited about something. Before I even tried to regulate that, this actually brought me into a fun situation at work. I was in a people related role and I think I was on holiday for a couple of days.

Signe: I had spoken to one of the [00:05:00] managers before I went on this leave. And they wanted to let somebody go. I asked them that, Hold on. I’ll come back. We’ll talk about this. We do it together. So we figure out the best solution. And when I came back, they had actually let the person go in between.

Signe: And I was really upset with that. First of all, I felt left out. I felt the injustice in the situation towards the person who was let go. And I was really emotional about that. And I remember, going into an office with them and saying that this is not how we can do things.

Signe: I was really like, bubbling with the whole thing. And they looked at me and they told me that I wouldn’t expect an eight year old child to behave like that. Like with all calm and in being in the moment, I realized I was overreacting emotionally, but it was more important for me to understand what was going inside me than to leave a professional impression.

Signe: So what this situation actually did was because I made myself vulnerable and because I actually went and [00:06:00] apologized later on for the situation, it totally changed our dynamic. So I think this. is what the emotionality actually gives into professional relationships as well. It gives this personal touch that you’re talking to a human.

Signe: And when you need their help, they will solve your problem like a human. So this is, what I feel about approaching things holistically. Plus, I’ve turned this into a story and anybody can relate to that. Being upset about something at work, maybe not overreacting with your colleagues, maybe at home, but anybody can relate to that.

Signe: And it’s very human. 

Rob: My background is relationships. And so often men the complaint will be that they’re grumpy. Or was angry. And what I realized is that traditionally men have not been comfortable expressing emotions. And so anger is something that most men is socially acceptable.

Rob: And things have changed now where we can express when you look at our programming of [00:07:00] men historically, it’s been a man doesn’t show emotion and the only emotion that was safe for a man to show was anger. So a lot of people will complain about their dad their partner. He’s just always grumpy.

Rob: It didn’t really see any other emotion from him. And it’s because whatever emotion they have, the only way that they can express it is by being a little bit grumpy. And so that’s how they can seem grumpy. 

Rob: I’ve often reacted to the word professionalism, professional, because when someone says be professional there’s often what they mean is don’t be emotional.

Rob: But it’s also a bit of a manipulation in do what I want, the way that I want. People want to slant the world towards the way that they are most comfortable dealing with the emotions. But what you’re missing is that I always think emotions are like the GPS.

Rob: Emotions help us know when we’re on track, when we’re off track, where we want to go. And the rest of it, the logic is about how’s the [00:08:00] best way to get there. And so when someone’s cutting off their emotion they cut a huge amount of value and especially now where most of what we do is creative or it’s coming up with insight. So if we don’t have access to emotions, we’re dramatically reducing our productivity and our capacity.

Rob: So where do you see the most damage that this professionalism and not allowing emotions in does in your work? 

Signe: I think the biggest damage is actually professionalism denying embodying the actual values of the organization.

Signe: In most cases, values are somehow related to emotion. Very often you can see among the organizational values, honesty. But honesty is related to this internal sense of truth. If we’ve turned out the sensation or sensing, then we can’t even sense the truth. We either sense an emotion, we also sense the truth.

Signe: We can [00:09:00] also see creativity among the values. But creativity is highly emotional. It, it usually is fueled by either utter frustration or utter freedom, a sense of freedom. Again, this is felt, not rationalized. What else it can be? Even the quality as a value, quality is a perceived like characteristic by the client. They feel, but if we don’t feel that they can’t feel that. So I think this is one of the biggest downsides of over emphasizing professionality in an organization. The other thing is that leadership is about relationships.

Signe: And relationships always happen between two people.

Signe: It’s never rational because people are never fully rational. So when we overemphasize professionality, again, we say that we don’t want very [00:10:00] deep relationships. But if you don’t have deep relationships, like for example, if you’re a leader, if you don’t have like deep trust with your team, sooner or later, they will go out to search for this deeper trust with somebody else.

Signe: So I think these are the core pitfalls of overemphasizing professionality. 

Rob: Yeah, definitely. So I’m curious where do you think it all began from?

Signe: Oh,

Signe: I think we probably need to look into the history of economy where it was dominated or it is dominated still by men, but it was like non exclusively dominated by men back in the days. And I think it only emerged when women started to enter. The field of work. Otherwise, it was so natural to be less emotional, very professional solution oriented task focused achievement oriented.

Signe: And only when we started to see [00:11:00] other approaches. In the face, mostly in the face of women in the workplace, we started to understand that it’s not all natural, the professional thing, and we started to talk about this, just like we today talk about psychological safety, like it’s a very natural thing to have, but somehow we talk about this, because the lack of safety has snuck into our work life.

Signe: So basically, I think this is where it started.

Rob: It’s interesting you say that because there’s certain words, professionalism, and I’m all for people should turn up on time, people should do what they say they do, people should, there’s certain standards that we expect, but how professionalism is often comes across is in ignoring the human elements.

Rob: And like you say, psychological safety, it should, why do we have, why do we need to make a big thing? And I also react to the word self care. 

Signe: Yes. 

Rob: Because what is self care? How can you not care about yourself? Yeah. And it [00:12:00] just, yeah, there’s so many things that, all the things that we talk about, now on leadership and business self care, psychological safety authenticity, all of these things, they should just naturally occur. 

Rob: Working in relationships. there was suddenly an increase in about the 50s and 60s in where the divorce rate skyrocketed.

Rob: Which came about like you say when women had a choice because up till in here in the UK it was only I think after this first world war like 1918, women actually got the vote for the first time. And prior to that, women. or soon around that time, about the turn of the 20th century, women didn’t have access to, even their own money wasn’t under their control.

Rob: And lived under the patriarchy and men get to determine what they’re comfortable with. And women are chattel, they’re part of your property. And suddenly when that changes the relationship Wasn’t working for many people and suddenly women had the choice and they left [00:13:00] and I think there’s probably a an analogy with business in early 20th century you needed a job or you wouldn’t survive whereas today people can survive, people have lots of options. And so suddenly, as men had to and are still struggling with business now has to adapt and has to recognize that it’s a, relationship of equality. I often look at a business demand that everyone does something, but it’s actually a negotiation.

Rob: Anyway, I won’t get off into that tangent. Yeah okay. So in terms of professionalism, everyone’s probably being very professional. And not listening to their emotional side, which then is why I think we have a lot of disengagement, burnout. How difficult is it for someone to suddenly let go of that professionalism and be themselves?

Signe: That’s a tough question. I think there are like opposing forces. in play with this all the time. Just like you made the example of [00:14:00] relationships having changed over the course of time, and we’re looking for equality now. But sameness is not equality. If we treat women as men, that’s not equal. If we treat men as women, that’s not equality.

Signe: We are different, and I think respecting diversity is the basis of equality. not treating everybody the same in this sense. So how easy or hard it is for somebody to let go of the professionality, women in the workforce today, especially in leadership professions, they are still expected to man up.

Signe: So they have these opposing forces inside them, having this innate feminine drive to connect and support and nurture, and then this masculine side of guide, direct and strive or ambition even is rather a masculine trait. But I think the [00:15:00] same happens to men because the advantages of more like feminine behaviors, let’s say, like this nurturing of relationships.

Signe: This is overt in organizations. So men have this drive to be ambitious, to guide, to lead, but they also see that the other part, the emotional part, the nurturing, the relationship building the caring part. is of advantage in the same role. So how hard it is for somebody to let go of this professionalism.

Signe: Just today I read this brilliant reminder of John C. Maxwell, that people change based on four drivers when they know more when they feel usually pain so strong that they need to change when they are so inspired. And and the fourth one was when they’ve received so much that it causes the change.

Signe: And it depends on exposure to these four [00:16:00] elements. that also causes the desire to let go of excess professionalism. Are we inspired to do that? Have we received sufficient proof when it’s about knowledge? Is it painful for us to continue with this burden of professionalism that we’re currently carrying?

Signe: And have we received sufficient care ourselves? To dare to start caring for others. 

Rob: Like any change is, it’s strange at first. And it’s a bit scary to step out and do something different because we have all these fears of how people will perceive us.

Signe: I take emotions like a postman, so it’s possible to rationalize even emotions and build a bridge with this rationale to accepting more of your emotions and listening to them more. And I would describe denying an emotion is like sending the postman away without accepting your mail.

Signe: That’s a 

Rob: great analogy. So it’s not their fault, 

Signe: they’re just bringing a message, so take the [00:17:00] message, read the message and decide what you want to do with that. You might burn it right away you might want to frame it and hang it on the wall. But if you think of it, if you think of emotions in a way that they carry a message, it sounds rather rational to me.

Rob: I’ve often been accused of being unemotional. I’m very rational, I’m very logical but what people often misunderstand is I understand the place of emotion. So emotion is,

Rob: like you say, it’s a message. Emotion is the GPS. Emotion is why we do something. But how we do it is logic. And my experience is that most people, use logic where they should have emotion and emotion where they should have logic. So often people will choose in terms of relationships, people will logically talk about all the reasons why they should love someone or something, but they don’t.

Rob: And yeah, it’s and, or they’ll they’ll be in this relationship [00:18:00] that’s horrendous. But I love him. I love her. 

Rob: It’s not being able to completely ignore any logic. My whole thesis on relationships is that people have this fairy tale mentality. And because of that, it’s the very thing that blocks their relationships that, because they feel that relationships shouldn’t be subject to logic, it should be, you just meet this one and it’s all wonderful.

Rob: And we’re not going to bring you any logic in and we’re just going to go with it and if they’re the one, it will all turn out right. But there’s, you have to understand that emotions and logic are like oil and water. Okay. and we have to know whether we need water or whether we need oil is my experience.

Rob: I’m guessing you find much the same of the confusion of logic and emotion. 

Signe: I agree, and I think this was a brilliant example of what you gave. People, I think we overall live in an over romanticized society, and this does not only apply [00:19:00] to personal relationships, it applies to organizational relationships just as well.

Signe: We talk about belonging to an organization. This is exactly, we’re looking for this romantic organization that we suddenly fit in without much effort. They’re all my people. So to say in the organization, we never step into conflict and it’s just roses and butterflies or whatever it is.

Signe: But it’s not. I’m fully with you about. People using oil where they would need water. And the other way around, the one thing that I also like to explain or or consider is that we have feelings. And we have emotions, and we tend to mix those two. And the way I would differentiate between them is, an emotion is a fading thing.

Signe: It’s like a mood. It comes and goes. Somebody looks at us grumpy, and we I don’t know fear away. Why did they look at us like that? But it fades away. There is [00:20:00] no depth to this. But when we talk about feeling, it’s this very deep sensation in our heart like this is right, we can argument against the situation like this doesn’t look right this is not right that’s whatever it is, but it feels right to go on with this, and when it feels right.

Signe: And if it’s not plausible, logically, this is where the unicorns are born. Because it feels right. But when we, when it feels wrong or even if it feels wrong and we rationalize it right. Then there is no good result, but also when it feels wrong, but the overt, like very surface emotion is right.

Signe: I’m happy today. They said I did a good job today. But otherwise day after day the relationship does not feel right. So I think when we also start to understand that when we talk about emotion, what we’re actually referring to in many cases is [00:21:00] moods and and when we follow a mood, this will practically never have a good outcome.

Signe: Especially in the workplace. And I think that in often cases, when we talk about emotion, not having place in workplace, what we’re actually saying is that we don’t want your moods in there. And this is justified, but passion is really a feeling. Excitement is a feeling the sense of right and wrong is a feeling, so they’re very deep in our body.

Signe: We can feel something being right or being wrong. And what we should consider is the feeling. What we shouldn’t consider is the mood. So I think I just added vinegar to the table. 

Rob: Okay. So when you’re talking about feelings, you’re really talking about what we might call gut instinct. 

Signe: Yes.

Rob: And feelings. So what we’re distinguishing between is a temporary emotion. So someone’s had an argument. at home. They’ve gone into work and they’re fuming and [00:22:00] then they’re snapping at everyone at work. 

Signe: Yeah. 

Rob: Yeah. So that’s their mood. And that’s why it’s so important that every we have, like to get the best team, we have to optimize everyone, which means that everyone has to have enough sleep.

Rob: Everyone has to have and I hate the word, but everyone needs to have to self care. We need to make sure that everyone is standing on a firm foundation. Everyone is feeling psychologically safe and all of that stuff so that they can be at their best. So feelings are where we’re really talking about emotional intelligence.

Signe: Yes. 

Rob: This is where our perspective comes from because you could put the reason I like to do these conversations is there are many people teaching leadership, but everyone has their own flavor determined by their own experiences. And this is the feelings sense.

Rob: It’s the values there’s a lot of research as well that intelligence of our gut is more powerful than logical. The difficulty is in distinguishing between [00:23:00] them.

Signe: Yes. 

Rob: Because we, the same person in a different mood will think, react, act differently than the other person. The same person who hasn’t had enough sleep, has just had a row, their job’s under threat. So I’m guessing a lot of what you do is teaching people about this and how do you teach them how to distinguish?

Signe: Yes. I do teach that based in the coaching sessions, but also in the group interventions or trainings that I do. And is now where the holisticity comes in again. A lot of emotion all these like moods where they are located in the body. If I would ask somebody to just sit back, somebody who’s upset or whatever it is if they close their eyes and sit back for the moment and I ask them to, can you show me, or can you locate this emotion in your body?

Signe: In most cases, it’s in their head. Sometimes it can be also in the throat or something. I feel the pinching in my throat or I feel, my head just pounding. When you ask them, but what do you feel in your heart or [00:24:00] gut? Then they get an understanding that this is not what I feel there. Being excited about a new position.

Signe: Oh, this is much more authority, much more salary great responsibility. And you rationalize it in your head. You have this excitement in your head, but when you think of it, is this what you really want to do? Is this what you wake up for in the morning? How do you feel about this in your heart?

Signe: And they say I feel heavy because I know how many less hours I will have to spend with my family because of this role. So physically locating the feeling is one very helpful way to differentiate between emotion or mood and the deep gut feeling. You just have them in different places. 

Rob: Which all comes down to self awareness, doesn’t it?

Rob: Yes. And self awareness is the very thing that professionalism blocks. 

Signe: Okay. Can you explain that? 

Rob: If you think about it, professionalism in the sense that we’re talking about of leave your emotions at the door [00:25:00] is ignore, shut up just don’t think through them. So it’s not accessing that intelligence.

Rob: And so whereas if you accepting it and being more holistic. Then you can start to identify different areas because you’re going into it and I like your analogy of emotions are a messenger bringing you a message, but what happens when you stop it is the messenger comes back with more and more until eventually You can’t suppress it anymore and it has to come out.

Rob: I think we can ignore logic and we can continue to ignore it, but emotions we can’t because emotions do have a physical place and it will eventually come out in your health. And that’s where you get ulcers or stress conditions or whatever because biologically emotions leave a chemical and biochemical trace as well.

Rob: Okay. 

Signe: Exactly. This is exactly what I wanted to say, that emotions are related to biochemistry, but I’m not sure if logic is. 

Rob: Yeah, exactly. 

Rob: Logic is your level of thinking, isn’t it? Logic is your [00:26:00] level of awareness, your level of intelligence. And it’s the best you can see with what you have. So by definition it’s a temporary state. Yeah logic is literally what’s the word?

Rob: It’s 

Signe: deductive trailing, basically, 

Signe: it’s the 

Rob: level of awareness that you have. Level of sensitivity, level of awareness and level of intelligence. But as soon as any of those upgrade. Your logic is entirely different.

Signe: Yeah. 

Rob: I’m not aware. Obviously there’s neurons firing, but I don’t think there’s any chemical, attachment to it because it’s not about you, is it? 

Signe: Yeah. I’m not sure. I’m not familiar with the research, but it would be interesting. I think another thing that blocks half of our self awareness really, or tells us to leave part of ourselves idle or unattended, is the the paradigm of science based approaches.

Signe: We are so much into science today, that if it’s not scientifically confirmed or approved, we should neglect [00:27:00] that disregard, whatever you’re feeling inside. And the other thing is the approach of bring me numbers. Yeah. We know how many advances in the world have been made against all odds.

Signe: But somehow this just feels it feels more controllable if we approach through numbers. And the tolerance of adversity and uncertainty are different in people. And I would even say that you can be a better leader the more adversity you tolerate and more uncertainty you can bear. This makes you a greater leader because there’s always a lot of uncertainty.

Signe: How you operate in this environment is what sets you apart from others, perhaps, because we’re all affected by uncertainty and adversity. But if you’re there to help yourself and others through you’ve done great as a leader, but it does require you to sometimes leave the science [00:28:00] aside, leave the numbers aside and just do what feels right.

Rob: I had a conversation a few podcasts back about this. And what’s interesting is science gives people a level of comfort. My background is happiness, relationships conflict and teams. And they’re not things that we can put numbers to.

Signe: Yes. 

Rob: But I have strived so hard to make measurable. I think I was the first person to put a happiness test online. And so that’s where a lot of my awareness and happiness came from. So my background is is psychology. So it’s all about research and science.

Rob: I think there’s a danger in not being scientific. If you look at, Motivational speakers, traditionally they spout opinion and they often dress it up as fact, there’s a lot of mythological facts or, but the other thing that we were talking about was how many studies are unscientific. The basis of science is that it has to be [00:29:00] valid, has to be reliable, and it has to be replicable.

Rob: And it’s one study which is cited over and over again to say it’s science backed. 

Rob: We can know very little. We’ve got the law of gravity because gravity is always work, but it doesn’t mean that it’s always going to work ever. And if we can do 20 trials across different countries, different cohorts, different type of people, we can know it’s, there’s some reliability.

Rob: But when we when we take one study and we say, yeah, this is proven, it’s not proven, it’s proven that it happened with 20 people is probably an unrepresentative sample. There’s a comfort that comes that, I’m not going to lose my job because this had some scientific proof.

Rob: I think it’s about having a clearer awareness of where we are on the subjectivity and objectivity and really knowing what we’re measuring and does it really is it really true? I’ve got so many quizzes, but to be able to measure like a team without testing the team, so it’s overly complex to [00:30:00] all of their team to fill out something, to measure it.

Rob: But that’s the only way that you’re really going to get subjective data. And there are some other ways that you can see through objective consequences. But there, once you do that, you’re reducing the validity because there’s an assumption, there’s a chain of assumptions. So people don’t want to take leaps and they don’t want to be wrong.

Signe: Yeah. People don’t want to be wrong. I absolutely agree with that. And just like you said, with science or science based approach the limitation that we need to be aware of really is that just like you said, When you measure in a team, it’s not going to be representative statistically.

Signe: If you have a seven people team, yes, you have the numbers, but they’re not statistically plausible. You need to understand that. And also, does the number mean what you think it means? I’m a bit troubled, for example, with this recent rise of The popularity for ENPS, like the employee NPS, and [00:31:00] having the NPS measure internal services, for example, since my background is in HR, I’ve had a lot of examples where people give feedback about the internal teams, whether it’s bookkeeping, whether it’s HR, whatever it is, internal communications, and it’s measured in NPS.

Signe: So what is it supposed to tell us? that somebody in the product development team or the whole product development team says they wouldn’t advise our bookkeeping to anybody else. Does it actually carry the meaning that that we want it to carry? But but this is what happens in many things.

Signe: And I think this has happened to also psychological safety. It has happened to emotional intelligence to leadership, just like we started this conversations that topics surface and disappear. Something else surfaces and the previous one disappears. But it’s all in a [00:32:00] movement, and we get into a fade of something and then something else emerges.

Signe: This is also very natural. That we never used to speak about, I don’t know, diversity or intergenerational diversity that much, not to mention other sorts of diversities. We never used to speak about psychological safety that much. It’s just 1999 that Amy Edmondson coined the term. We never used to speak so much about leadership or equality, but they surface, this topic surface and they disappear again.

Signe: And right now we’re just in the phase. When we talk about these things and in the phase where we glamorize a certain set of metrics, just like the NPS, but we used to glamorize the balance scorecard like 15, 20 years ago, there was nothing else. So it’s very natural and there is nothing bad in there.

Signe: It’s just a process. And that we don’t need to even search whether it’s right or wrong. Also in science, we know what we [00:33:00] know. But we don’t know what we don’t know. So even the brain science, I think it’s been said scientists have been able to explain about 10 percent of the whole brain function.

Signe: The brain being so complex. And maybe I’m even exaggerating with this 10%. But this just gives you an understanding how much we don’t understand. But we need to act regardless. So we take what we do know. And this is also what I want to do with my clients, both on an individual basis and in groups, not to make them feel overwhelmed by what they don’t know or can’t do or haven’t experienced or haven’t been exposed to yet, but take what they do have and apply this in the best way possible.

Rob: Which is in the end is all you can do. A lot of it seems to be about discomfort with uncertainty. That really is part of the responsibility of leadership, isn’t it? It’s always a moving [00:34:00] target. And you’re doing it while you’re on the run.

Rob: A leader has to be the one that says, okay, this is the best we can do right now. Let’s do it and see and adjust as it goes. 

Rob: We’ve talked a lot about emotions and you talked about holistic.

Rob: Of being all around the person about physical, emotional, logical and the one I want to ask about is spiritual. Because In all the work I’ve done, I’ve always found in understanding people it’s not about being spiritual, but it’s about having some sense of compass and everyone has to make sense of the world because what we do in work, what we do in our relationships, what every encounter that we have is framed within this sense of how we see the cosmos.

Rob: And it’s not about whether we believe in God or we believe in Allah or we believe in Buddha or whatever life force. It’s about how do you make sense of the world, because that’s going to frame what gives you meaning and it’s going to be the source of where your passion is. We talked about logic and the level of logic is where you [00:35:00] understand and then you understand.

Rob: And I’m picking up from you that there’s been this journey of increasing awareness. And I’m interested in if you’re willing to share your personal spiritual journey. And by spiritual, as in the sense of how you understand the world and your place in it. Yeah, so if you start with that and then 

Signe: it is a very interesting question.

Signe: To me, spirituality in the whole comes down to the sense of something greater than myself. Something greater Then my immediate surrounding, something greater than even the earth, something greater than the logic can grasp, something greater that we can cognize about.

Signe: And this is the essence of spirituality. What it does for me, it gives me this sense of even this deliberating humbleness, like there is no way. I can know it all, so I can rest in my own [00:36:00] limitation,

Signe: It gives you both the contentment in continuous learning, there is always something to learn, but it also gives you satisfaction in what you have achieved. It creates a perspective, a more neutral, I would even say a less emotional perspective to your own journey and to your own life, because it goes far deeper than emotions go.

Signe: I think I’ve always had this sense there is something greater. I can remember, when I was a child, there were a lot of UFO stories circling around. And I remember as a small girl looking to the sky thinking, can this really be true? But what I have done is I’ve moved from the mysticism, to the pragmatism of spirituality, let’s say. 

Signe: So just like you say, it’s a compass where it comes from somewhere deep, or another way would be saying somewhere high from high above or for deep inside, it’s all the same in the end. And where I am just [00:37:00] now is that understanding that everything forms sort of a system, whether we understand and sense these ties between things more strongly or more weakly, but there is a system, there are ripples to everything.

Signe: This is also why I do what I do, is that I want to create this positive ripple in the field of leadership, and this is why I love working with leaders is that they have an immense impact on the people they work with. Everybody has had a really bad manager, and I think I’ve been this to a bunch of people in my past.

Signe: And I’ve had this undesired impact on people. And if we can change the impact through helping these leaders become better. Then this is a spiritual endeavor for me creating this ripple. Yeah, so this is where I am at the moment. 

Rob: I think it’s interesting that you bring emotions because I [00:38:00] think our emotionality is determined by our spiritual balance.

Rob: Because the more balanced we are spiritually, I don’t mean as in we do this practice, but I like the way that you talk about the difference between mystical spiritualism and pragmatic. Because, what happens in a lot of people, have a sense of whatever they want to seek spiritually.

Rob: But what happens is they get caught up in the logic. 

Rob: This is the problem with the logic. And then this is where religions become formed because what you bring is a limited intelligence. And logic is a limited intelligence is framed in a specific set of awareness and perspective.

Rob: And we then create rules. And this box of what is and what isn’t spiritual. And for me, there’s no difference between spiritual and physical. 

Rob: Spiritual is the idea, physical is the manifestation of what we do. 

Rob: The less bullshit we have of trying to impose ideas and the more that we just work with what life [00:39:00] is, the better balanced I think we are.

Rob: And then the better balance that we have, that kind of spiritual awareness then makes us less emotional because we have a solid frame. 

Signe: Yes. 

Rob: I’m not religious, I was brought up Catholic, but I’m not a believer, but I look at it from a perspective that Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu or anyone else that you want to talk of in that sense, were great people, but Jesus never set up Christianity. It, it was formed by people around him who didn’t have his awareness.

Rob: Buddha never set up Buddhism. It was formed by the people around him. And followers take things literally on a lower level of awareness. They set rules and then they say, this is spiritual. And then they all disagree with each other, which is why we have 30, 000 different types of Christianity, 30, 000 different types of Buddhism.

Rob: So that’s a long way of it. I’ve gone off on the tangent, so bringing it back to the pragmatic, how do you help someone? You said that you help them in a spiritual sense. How do you help them in the sense [00:40:00] of leadership by this kind of spiritual balance? 

Signe: That’s a really interesting question.

Signe: What I do is first I try to understand what is their current understanding of their own spiritual dimension. Like yourself most people think about that. They are aware of their own spiritual dimension. I am aware of atheism and also atheists being around us, but I haven’t really come across personally of strong atheists.

Signe: But this is also a religion, isn’t it? Negating religion. 

Rob: Like I read Richard Dawkins, isn’t it? Great scientist interested to read his book and his views. And I read The God Delusion, and it was so interesting. religious in its adamance that you’ve done the exact same thing in your own way.

Signe: Yeah. I think one of the characteristics of religion is having dogmas. This is what it’s based on. When I talk to leaders or when I work with the leaders many of them actually say that. a lot of their [00:41:00] decisions is based on this gut feeling. But the gut feeling is unexplainable in a sense, just like spirituality is.

Signe: So it’s their connection to this something greater. They can even say that, I don’t know where this comes from, but I know this is right. And this is connecting them back to the spirituality. And we then go inside that, what else can you see there? So leave everything else aside and explore this feeling.

Signe: What other information can you see in there? So it’s this internal journey that you can help people discover and re establish even the connection to the divine so that it doesn’t have to be an occasional glimpse of the background of your gut feelings, but you actually understand, yes, this works.

Signe: It worked last time. It works this time. And it probably works the next time. And this is how I can utilize that. I would even say that even in this highly [00:42:00] science glamorizing world, a lot of leaders appreciate having this gut feeling and act on that as well. So I wouldn’t say we lack spirituality.

Signe: We may be lack spirituality in the talk because it still brings me numbers. And what is this assumption based upon? But the way we actually deliberate and then make decisions. The spiritual dimension, the deep feeling, the understanding of something greater is always there. 

Rob: Yeah, I completely agree.

Rob: When you’re talking, I’m it makes me think. We open with about professionalism and how it blocks off the emotions. And I think what religion in a very dogmatic sense. does is it actually blocks off spirituality. It blocks off the awareness because, like I was brought up in the Christian Catholic thing and you have the Pope. You’re not supposed to have a direct relationship because you have to go to your priest who then gets to your Pope, who then has the direct relationship.

Rob: And so it [00:43:00] actually does the opposite. I look at what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount and religion went and did the exact same thing he said don’t do. He said it was just about a direct relationship. So I think, again, spirituality is like self care and psychological safety.

Rob: It’s one of those things that we don’t really need to talk about. It just is natural. What we’ve done. is in the sense of professionalism is we’ve blocked off access to that. So you can’t talk about that. We need to understand our body, our emotions, our sense of self, where we’ve evolved from and just be us.

Rob: Great leadership is really about bringing all of those elements in. 

Signe: Yeah. I like how you said that

Signe: Yes. It comes down to the level of self awareness and I think it’s also the same way in religion. you understand the holy texts based on your level of awareness and your level of openness, your own [00:44:00] level of spirituality.

Signe: If you read any book, you would read new ideas out from it next time, because you’re wiser, more experienced have had, different insights in between. And holy texts are no different in this sense. Your awareness grows all the time. Yes, interestingly, we come back to self awareness in everything, in understanding that professionalism doesn’t have to mean leaving things out, but it’s just the rhetoric of it.

Signe: In religion also, it’s a rhetoric about faith but it doesn’t have to be this way. Like somebody saying all limitations are self imposed in the sense that if we want to look further, we can 

Rob: what I see what you do. is raise awareness. And I think what you’ve identified in your philosophy is that we are cognitively limited by the act, the link we have to emotion, and then there’s [00:45:00] a link to spirituality, and then there’s a link to physicality and when one of them is weak, it’s like the theory of constraints.

Rob: When we’re constrained, the weakest, we’re constrained by what is the weakest link? Leadership, our cognition is going to be limited by how much sleep we’ve had, by our emotions and by our sense of the place in the world. And. It’s the strength of the links between all of those that we have to address, whichever one is limiting us.

Rob: What I’m understanding is what you do is bring awareness to all of them so that we can raise our cognitive abilities and ultimately basically align them. So we can lead at a higher level by raising up, because these are the pillars of the person and the pillars of the person are the pillars of the leadership.

Rob: And you can’t upgrade the leadership without upgrading the person. 

Signe: Exactly. You can be only as good of a leader as you are as a person. 

Rob: I think you, you upgrade their leadership by upgrading the person.

Rob: I [00:46:00] think this was really beautifully said. Yes. I think it’s a wonderful summary of what I’m intending to do. 

Rob: What’s your why? Where did you start from and what’s the trajectory that makes this so authentic to you? 

Signe: That’s a really good question as well, again. There is a beautiful word that we use very little, especially in the last decades, let’s say, and it’s called vocation.

Signe: We talk a lot about professions. We talk a lot about jobs work in general, but we don’t talk about vocation. Very early on, I had this tendency to want to teach, want to help. My favorite game as a kid was to play school before I went to school. My village was like that. I was described in the kindergarten, I remember we got this, like this final memo or whatever it was.

Signe: It said about me that a little teacher so I’ve had this drive to help others or to help raise awareness or teach something [00:47:00] or call them out for something greater my whole life. So this led me to study educational sciences focus on the IQ. I was really interested in that, but it only gave me half of the picture.

Signe: So I went on to study business. I’ve been in the training industry. I’ve been a leadership consultant and I’ve done HR work and now I’ve landed with coaching. So I’ve got this like 360 view of what leadership and leader development is about. And I’ve actually tried to push away. this tendency to teach for years, not to be pushy, not to teach there where it’s not desired not to tell somebody that they are not doing it right.

Signe: So I’ve had a lot of struggle with that. And now when I’ve arrived in this role of a coach, this sums up what I’m called to do, what’s my vocation, and I’ve been equipped with the tools to do this without damaging their [00:48:00] self confidence or their personality. 

Signe: So this is the journey because early days, of course, I didn’t care if they wanted my teaching or not, or how they wanted it, or if they were ready for that, but I’ve now come to the place and learned the skills that I can only help the ones who want help in a way they want help and when they want it.

Signe: And I accept that. This is also where this emotional regulation comes in, when you have this let’s say the spirituality, you also said that that you’re less emotional because you have this compass in place, and the sidewinds affect you less. Now I’m in this place where I don’t take this personally when somebody’s not interested in my assistance.

Signe: I can fully accept that I can only help them the way they want to, because I can see many things, perhaps when talking to a person, a lot of patterns immediately emerge, but they are only willing to take this one step at a time. And I respect that. And I [00:49:00] fully respect that. 

Rob: Something that you have to learn in working with people is not being attached to their results, 

Rob: I think that’s a similar journey in leadership is not being attached to. The outcome, not being attached to but being able to take people as they are and grow them. 

Signe: One of the principle that has really helped me and then I acquired during my NLP studies was that everybody is giving their absolute best in any given situation.

Signe: If they knew better, they would already do better. So this faith in people always giving their best. is something that allows me to be at peace and detached from the outcome as well. 

Rob: I remember that from my NLP. It’s one of the precepts, isn’t it? Yes, it 

Signe: is. 

Rob: Okay. Who would be the kind of person that would work with you and what might they be looking for?

Signe: There are probably two, two types of very broadly, two types of leaders that would work with me. 

Signe: One part is that he’s [00:50:00] interested in raising self awareness and who has the belief that it is easiest reason in a conversation. So make sense. Yeah? And the other part is probably leadership teams who are more in need of getting on the right foot immediately for new leaders, or also mid level leadership teams who want to get like the concepts clear.

Signe: How do we understand leadership in this organization and how we translate our values, for example, into leadership action. 

Signe: These sorts of things first would be then one on one coaching and the other one would be then a group intervention with a group of leaders to raise their awareness and skill at the same time.

Rob: How might they be aware what kind of problems might they be noticing in their work or life at the moment that they would, that would be warning signs that they need to call you in. 

Signe: That’s a good question because there are external indicators and then there are [00:51:00] internal indicators and external indicators vary from poor business results to people turnover to low engagement to talent acquisition problems. So these very common things that organizations struggle with.

Signe: The internal indicators could be like discontent. I feel I’m not the leader I want to be. I could perform so much better if I had this, that, or third thing. Or I have the sense that we’re lacking understanding. So this knacking feeling inside that I could be better, but there’s something missing.

Signe: And when you put these together, you have some external indicators and engagement is a very big thing nowadays in organizations. And you add this to your internal feeling that I could be better. Then you find a combination that I could actually use a coach. 

Rob: And it goes back to how you open the conversation.

Rob: How can you have engagement when someone can’t engage emotionally, can’t engage spiritually, [00:52:00] then how do you expect them to care and how do you expect them to, really be excited about your goals? 

Signe: The very short answer is you can’t. 

Rob: Exactly. 

Signe: Think it’s a lot of wishful thinking there, this is when we talk about the NPS, so we just look a random number NPS and we still don’t talk to people.

Signe: We can’t solve that. We can’t nail the problem. 

Rob: That’s the thing that came immediately to mind. When someone fills out one of those questions, there’s so many other questions that you need to know that are the pillars that make up their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the service or with the company or whatever.

Rob: Yes. The 

Signe: organization that I was working with, if I can give you an example we rolled out a engagement survey that was based on daily questions. There was one question a day, you could give a really easy indicator of how you’re feeling. And And I remember talking to a couple of leaders based on the results that look, this is going on in your division.

Signe: Do you know that? And they said, yes, I talk to my people every day. So this is how you should take an engagement score. You [00:53:00] should know it before it reflects in the score. This is where the true information comes from when you actually speak to people. And you can also ask why and how and what we can do about this.

Rob: It’s a great way to confirm because you always want to check. You don’t want to just assume that everyone’s fine. But yeah, it’s a great way to check, but you need to know much more detailed in order to have a clear picture. 

Rob: Anything I haven’t said that I should have asked you? 

Signe: Ooh, this is one of the questions that I ask at the end of every conversation that I have. I would like to emphasize at the end of this conversation is that we talk so much about ,let’s say bad leadership and leaders are being put down in so many occasions. And what I want to do is to give them confidence that they’re giving the best they can and they can get better. But it doesn’t mean that they’re lousy now, because I firmly believe that only really confident people [00:54:00] can really change.

Signe: So I want to build their confidence in addition to their competence to really be their greatest leaders they’ve ever dreamt of. 

Rob: That sounds a perfect philosophy and a perfect way to end. Thank you so much. 

Signe: Thanks Rob.

Share the Post:

Related Posts