Deluxe’s Julie Loosbrock, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, and Lisa Kramer Rodacker, Organization Effectiveness Consultant, chatted about the value of self-awareness in achieving better business results.
“Why do businesses exist?” asked Loosbrock at the outset of a Fireside Chat at the 2016 Human Capital Leadership Forum Held on May 5 in Chicago. “What if I said, businesses, work, and happiness are linked? We at Deluxe believe that businesses exist not only for ROI, shareholder value, and profit, but human wellbeing is critical—wellbeing for the customer, the employees, and families. That reverberates out into the world. Physiologically, we’re created to have social connection. Without it, we’d die. A business needs both an analytical side and a social side to achieve better business results.”
When going through a transition, the focus needs to be brought back to this social aspect, said Rodacker, and this starts with self-awareness. “This means leading from the inside out.”
“Self-awareness is a life’s work,” chimed in Loosbrock. “We need to realize how we show up, how people experience us, and the impact we have on them. Our leadership programs start with this premise.” Daniel Goldman says the hallmark of an effective leader is self-awareness, she noted, and his definition of emotional intelligence is: first, self-awareness; second, self-regulation; third, empathy; and, lastly, social skills.
“I’ve gotten pushback on the need for self-awareness from leadership that give me the argument, ‘Of course we’re self-aware and emotionally intelligent. Look at the level we are.’ What do you think?” Loosbrock asked the audience. “Are all your leaders self-aware?”
“The higher you are in the organization, the less feedback you get,” Rodacker pointed out. “You get fewer and fewer alternative perspectives. Without those, you’re less likely to be self-aware and therefore self-regulating.”
“When you’re self-aware, you can manage your reactions and not expose others to your emotions,” said Loosbrock. Neuroscientists Matt Lieberman and Naomi Eisenberger have discovered through their research that social connection is critically important for every single mammal, said Loosbrock. “We need it to survive.”
Lieberman and Eisenberger also found that social pain is equal to physical pain. “Think about the importance of social connection in your wellness programs,” advised Rodacker. “This is strategic. It has everything to do with the function of business.” If we’re connected with other people on the team, we have motivation to contribute our best to that team. If we don’t value social skills, often the wrong leaders are promoted.
“Think about the importance of social connection in your wellness programs. This is strategic. It has everything to do with the function of business.”
“How do we sell self-awareness to our leadership team?” asked Rodacker.
“How can we quantify in hard numbers how important self-awareness is to the bottom line?” asked Loosbrock.
Loosbrock gave examples of how emotional intelligence has resulted in improved productivity along with fewer accidents and grievances. One study showed that companies with leaders who are more self-aware had higher stock prices over an 18-month period than companies with self-focused CEOs.
“So-called soft skills are hard,” noted Rodacker. “Listening is hard, connecting with others is hard, being inclusive and collaborative is hard.” Embedding self-awareness and social connection involves instilling in leadership a different mindset as well as new tools, processes, and development by beginning with what each leader does well. Leadership’s mindset has to change to see the value of employing a different strategy and technique to have a different outcome.
“So-called soft skills are hard. Listening is hard, connecting with others is hard, being inclusive and collaborative is hard.”
Loosbrock and Rodacker created a thought leadership academy to develop self-awareness and leading from the inside out. “The most interesting part of this program,” said Loosbrock, “was that in the post-competency ratings, every leader rated themselves lower than in their pre-competency assessment as a result of becoming more self-aware. However, others rated them as improved, again because of the leader’s improved self-awareness.”
ABOUT JULIE LOOSBROCK:
Julie Loosbrock is the senior vice president of HR and a member of the Executive Leadership Team at Deluxe Corporation, where she leads a team of nearly 90 HR professionals. She’s led the HR function during a time of significant change for Deluxe as it transformed its business from a check printer to providing marketing solutions and other services to small businesses and financial institutions.
Julie responded to this change by evolving the role of HR and taking a proactive, consultative approach to drive tangible business results. She developed a proprietary talent management and development strategy that provides a systemic view of the employee life cycle as well as key metrics. Her work has fundamentally shifted how Deluxe attracts, develops, and retains its talent and has served as the basis for many successful programs to equip, engage, and motivate employees.
Julie has been a featured speaker at many national conferences including Masie Learning and HR West. She participated in a panel discussion at the 2015 NeuroLeadership Summit in New York City. She has also been recognized with local, national, and industry awards and was named a Woman to Watch by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
Prior to Deluxe, Julie spent more than 20 years leading HR for brands such as Pillsbury, IMPACT Consulting, Ryerson Steel, and Rapp Collins Worldwide. She’s involved in many professional organizations including Society for Human Resource Management, Organization Development Network, the NeuroLeadership Institute, and the American Society for Training and Development. Julie also serves on the Board of Directors for the Tubman Family Alliance and the Deluxe and Hotchkiss Foundations.
Julie earned her doctorate in Organization Development from the University of St. Thomas, focusing her dissertation on understanding senior leaders’ perceptions and responses to feedback from others. She holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas and a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.
ABOUT LISA KRAMER RODACKER:
Lisa Kramer Rodacker has a passion for helping others find their calling and be successful. For 20+ years, she’s done exactly that across a range of industries and positions, using her strengths in talent development, professional training, and motivational speaking. This has included roles as a retail store manager, motivational speaker (with 3,000+ presentations under her belt), college career counselor, university faculty, election administrator, instructional designer, corporate trainer, and executive coach (where she was paid, in part, with cookies).
For the past decade, Lisa has helped lead performance management, leader development, and enterprise learning at Deluxe Corporation as an Organization Effectiveness Consultant. As the 100-year old business has undergone a significant transformation, Lisa has had the opportunity to positively influence the evolving culture and help leaders drive the business strategy forward.
Prior to Deluxe, Lisa worked for organizations such the Minnesota Secretary of State, Shopko, and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She’s a graduate and earned a Masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.