By Yating Wong, brand manager – ecommerce
Recently, Clorox employees and guests from a number of other companies headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area gathered to hear executive coach and global leadership strategist Jane Hyun, speak about her latest book “Flex: The New Playbook for Managing Across Differences,” which she co-authored with Audrey S. Lee.
Today’s global marketplace requires new approaches and leadership that embraces diverse worldviews, experiences and thought processes. In discussing her new book, author Jane Hyun shared her personal story of growth, beginning with the cultural shock of moving from South Korea to New York City when she was 8 years old. In New York, she said she experienced a new diversity in people and schools of thought. “Rules had changed, but I hadn’t changed,” Jane said. “I didn’t know I had to flex to be successful.”
Jane’s new book focuses on this idea of “flex” and developing the skill to switch between styles and approaches to better connect with those who come from a different perspective, whether it be generational, cultural or otherwise. Jane emphasized that an organization needs leaders who tap into diversity and leverage differences, siting studies that show multicultural/diverse teams with culturally competent leaders do better than single cultural teams. Jane refers to these culturally competent individuals as “fluent leaders” who can flex easily and who listen to and value different perspectives. Fluent leaders, she says, look for ways to innovate, are comfortable with ambiguity and complexity, are adaptable and possess self- and other-awareness.
She also highlighted how people often expend too much energy trying to fit in and minimize their differences. Instead, she encourages everyone to be thinking of how to navigate the dominate culture using their differences. She counsels individuals to understand the differences that exist and flex to engage with their organizations fully.
It can be challenging to embrace a style that’s different from our own. It’s easier to fall back on what’s familiar and consistent, particularly given the pressure of day-to-day demands. Since attending Jane’s talk, though, for teams in and out of work, I’m pursuing a higher degree of diversity of thought, style and backgrounds. I’m also holding myself to a higher standard of remaining actively and openly curious. And by taking time to identify and put aside my preconceived notions and biases, I’m giving myself the opportunity to become a more fluent, flexible leader.
eCommerce Brand manager Yating Wong is passionate about coaching and development and co-founded the Clorox Peer Coaching program. In her free time, she reads voraciously, abstains from hiking, and enjoys trying new restaurants around Berkeley.
Faren McNabb, Finance & Diversity College Recruiting coordinator, contributed to this post. Faren is responsible for supporting the Finance college recruiting program as well as managing key corporate diversity and inclusion projects. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, balcony gardening and exploring the rugged California coast.