Effective leadership is not just about making decisions and driving results; it’s about inspiring action, fostering a connected communication culture, and embracing diversity. In a world where workplaces are becoming increasingly diverse, the ability to communicate and lead across cultures is an essential skill. In this episode of Peak Performance Leadership, host Scott McCarthy engages in a thought-provoking conversation with communication expert Heather Hansen to explore the nuances of cross-cultural communication and the vital role of relatability, humility, and transparency in leadership.

Meet Heather

Heather Hansen is a renowned communication expert who specializes in celebrating and understanding different cultures and their impact on communication. Her vast experience includes speaking at TED Talks and working with companies globally. Heather brings unique insights and practical guidance to help leaders navigate the complexities of cross-cultural communication, psychological safety, and bias awareness.

Heather Hansen’s insights and experiences highlight the critical role of effective communication, relatability, humility, and transparency in embracing cultural diversity and leading across cultures. As organizations continue to evolve in their diversity, it is imperative for leaders to understand and value the impact of linguistic bias, recognize unconscious biases, and foster a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. This episode serves as a valuable resource for leaders seeking to enhance their cross-cultural communication skills and create an environment where diversity is not only acknowledged but celebrated.

Timestamped Overview

02:30 – Diversity in Remote Workplaces

Scott and Heather discuss the challenges of onboarding employees from diverse cultures and backgrounds in a remote and diverse workplace. They emphasize the importance of valuing diversity, facing conflict, and being authentic and open in communication.

05:45 – Understanding Cultural Impact

Heather stresses the need for solid conversations before the arrival of new employees, using personality and cultural profiles to understand and value diversity, and learning how new hires can make a unique impact on the organization.

08:20 – Communication Across Different Cultures

Scott and Heather delve into the challenges of communication across different cultures, highlighting the importance of understanding cultural differences, personal values, and microcultures in cross-cultural communication.

11:10 – Overcoming Linguistic Bias

Heather emphasizes the importance of recognizing linguistic bias and its influence on hiring decisions, promotions, and leadership perceptions. They discuss unconscious biases related to accents and the impact on individual perceptions.

14:40 – Personal Stories and Impact of Accents

Scott shares a personal story about experiencing negative stereotypes based on accents, while Heather discusses the effect of accents on individuals’ perceptions and the privilege and responsibility that come with being a native English speaker.

17:55 – Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Culture

McCarthy and Hansen discuss the role of leaders in promoting diversity and inclusivity, particularly in addressing accent discrimination and creating a workplace that respects and embraces diversity.

Guest Resources

If you are interested in learning more about Heather’s resources be sure to check out the following links:

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The following is an AI generated transcript which should be used for reference purposes only. It has not been verified or edited to reflect what was actually said in the podcast episode. 


Scott McCarthy [00:00:00]:
On episode 2/21 of the Peak Performance Leadership podcast, we speak to communication expert Heather Hanson. She’s going to tell you how you can change your mindset about communicating with others from other cultures. Are you ready for this? Alright. Let’s

Scott McCarthy [00:00:22]:
it. Welcome, 1, welcome all to the Peak Performance Leadership podcast, a weekly podcast series dedicated to helping you peak performance across the 3 domains of leadership. Those being leading yourself, leading your team, and leading your organization. This podcast couples my 20 years of military experience as a senior Canadian army officer with world class guests bringing you the most complete Podcast on leadership going. And for more, feel free to check out our website at moving forward leadership.com. With that, let’s get to the show. Yes. Welcome, 1.

Scott McCarthy [00:01:12]:
Welcome, all. It is your chief leadership officer, Scott McCarthy, and thanks for coming and joining us today. It’s so great to have you here in talking about epically important topic, and that is communication. A topic that so many people, including myself, still have issues revolving around, and It’s so difficult. Whenever you talk to teams or couples or Individuals, and they say, hey. What’s troubling you? What’s going on? I would swear 90% of the time, and don’t take that as a solid statistic, but I’m gonna run with 90% of the time, the issues that they state they’re having revolve around communication. So that’s why we have Heather on the show today because she is a communication expert. And if you’re having difficulties, whether that’s a conflict in your team or not having expectations met or simply needing some boundaries set, It revolves around communicating.

Scott McCarthy [00:02:29]:
And Heather and I go deep into this conversation. In fact, We talk about a breadth of topics on this top show. We talk about why difficulties in communicating with different cultures and groups, How we communicate effectively with different cultures in the workplace, how to counter linguistic Bias, which was a super interesting topic, how to establish a sense of psychological safety, how to establish a culture to celebrate diversity and so much more. So this is Heather’s lane. This is where she works in day in, day out. It’s about communicating and basically celebrating different cultures and the way we think, but most importantly, the way we talked and act. She has been on TED Talks. She is a TED Talk titled 2,000,000,000 voices.

Scott McCarthy [00:03:29]:
She has been around the globe speaking and working with companies such as ABC National Radio, multiple print and radio outlets in Singapore and a whack of other places. This show will help you basically make everyone feel valued, heard, and understood as you navigate the diverse workplace of today. And if you don’t have a diverse workplace, it is still going to enable you to ensure that The communication amongst you and your team is at the top level. So with further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Why don’t you sit back, relax, and enjoy my conversation on how to show up, speak up, and inspire action with Heather Hanson. Heather, welcome to the show. So good to have you here. Today Thanks for having me. Me this morning for you.

Heather Hansen [00:04:48]:
That’s right. In the future.

Scott McCarthy [00:04:53]:
In the future for yourself. But, anyway, you were telling me before we hit record that the future looks bright, so I’m happy. But let’s talk about communication and communicating, you know, properly. And there goes off my Google. You never know what’s gonna happen. Alright. So let’s let’s talk about communication. And, actually, before I even hit record, I said that this interview is gonna be very timely.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:20]:
And that’s because in my mastermind community, the leader growth leader growth mastermind. We follow my 3 domains of leadership. So that is leading yourself, leading your team, leading organization, and we kinda pick a domain per month. So last month, we’ve been actually going through or sorry. This month, I should say. This this current month, we’ve been going through leading through, different cultures, different ethnicities, biases, you know, cognitive biases, and as well as different generations.

Heather Hansen [00:05:54]:
Oh, great.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:55]:
So it it just feels like this interview, which, Oh, by the way, it’s being livestreamed to the mastermind community, is like perfect timing. I couldn’t ask better.

Heather Hansen [00:06:05]:
So Yeah. Oh, perfect.

Scott McCarthy [00:06:08]:
So I guess my first question is, why do we have such a hard time with communication across these different groups of people in the 1st place? Like, aren’t we all human beings?

Heather Hansen [00:06:19]:
Yeah. Exactly. We’re all human beings, but it’s exactly what you just said. It’s all of the cultural differences. The biases that we have that we’re totally unaware of, the way that we view the world, our perspective of the world is so different. Right? It’s it’s that question of what’s Actually reality because the way I see the world and the way you see the world are completely different. And, you know, I was born and raised in California. I left 20 years ago.

Heather Hansen [00:06:46]:
I’ve spent 8 years in Denmark, 12 years in Singapore. I’m married to a Dane. I have third culture kids that I’m raising in Singapore that go to international schools. And Singapore is such an international environment that every conversation I’m in is with someone from another culture who has a different native language. And every single conversation, we have to be thinking about how we’re communicating And how we’re creating meaning in that moment because it’s not just that I have an idea in my mind and I express it and then you get the same exact picture in your head. It doesn’t work That way, every conversation we’re actually negotiating meaning and understanding. And if we forget that, that’s when we run into problems, especially across Cultures and in new environments.

Scott McCarthy [00:07:33]:
I like that meaning and understanding a bit, but That’s gotta be difficult, like, just based off of what you said. You know what I mean? Like, all the different cultures. So I’m in here in Canada, which is a country well known for its diversity. Today, we bring in

Heather Hansen [00:07:48]:

Scott McCarthy [00:07:48]:
Refugees and immigrants and everything from across the world every year, like, a couple 100,000 every year. You go to the big city centers like Toronto or Montreal, and sometimes I feel like a minority as as a white guy, because all the diversity, which, by the way, I I fully support, that’s a good thing.

Heather Hansen [00:08:08]:

Scott McCarthy [00:08:08]:
But, you know, how can we, you know, get to understand that and not come across as being disrespectful when all we’re trying to do is make our point as a leader to them in the workplace. Yeah.

Heather Hansen [00:08:21]:
Yeah. Well, I think this goes a little bit hand in hand with your 3 tenets of leadership, you know, the leading yourself, leading your team, leading the organization, Because it starts with understanding yourself, and that’s where it starts. So what are your values? How has your culture shaped you? And remembering that culture is not just big c national culture. That actually doesn’t impact Cross cultural communication as much as people think. It’s more the little c culture, the football team that you support And the culture that goes with that. The fact that you have children or you don’t have children, how has that affected the way you see the world, the way you prioritize your life? The sports that you play or don’t play, you know, people who are very athletic versus those who are not, the type of diet that you have. We create Many microcultures around all of our interests, all of the things that we value, all of the big choices decisions we make in our lives Lead us into these microcultures. And that is as much cross cultural communication as you going and speaking to someone from Dubai Or Singapore or France or whatever.

Heather Hansen [00:09:33]:
And sometimes people forget that that you can have as much diversity with the person that lives down the street who’s another white male just like you as you could with someone from a completely different national culture. So you have to first Really take some time to dig deep and understand what is it that you stand for, how has your culture shaped you without you necessarily knowing. And a good example of this and a bias that I talk about a lot that I don’t see and hear people talking about in diversity and inclusion is linguistic bias. So if you think about all the movies you watched when you were growing up, what did the villains sound like? Did they sound like you? Probably not. Right? They sounded German. They sounded Russian. As time moved by and geopolitics Changed. They sounded Chinese.

Heather Hansen [00:10:23]:
They sounded Arab, and we see this continue. Well, what does that do when you grow up always learning and Seeing that the bad guys are foreign. They’re different. They’re other. Well, that then makes you start to believe every time you hear this accented English that This person’s other. This person’s different. They very likely are bad, have bad intentions. And this is the subconscious bias that we have and that comes out we have Studies that are showing comes out in hiring decisions.

Heather Hansen [00:10:52]:
It comes out in promotions. It comes out in the way you lead your people. So you have to truly understand what are your biases and biases that you’ve never thought about before because I would assume probably a lot of listeners haven’t thought about this bias before. And then what does that mean when you meet The Indian speaker in an interview, and you have very specific subconscious biases around where people who sound like that belong in society or what they do for a living or what their education level is, what their economic status is. How does that then affect that conversation? And there’s a massive effect.

Scott McCarthy [00:11:31]:
That is incredible. It’s interesting because, as I was talking to my mastermind community, we we meet Thursdays at 8 PM EST. And this week, The content that we’re covering this week was, biases, cognitive biases. I will confirm linguistic bias is not in that list. However, I also preference that whole content with there are many biases out there.

Heather Hansen [00:11:57]:
I need you to Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Scott McCarthy [00:11:59]:
Right? So You

Heather Hansen [00:12:00]:
can’t cover everything.

Scott McCarthy [00:12:02]:
No. It’s impossible.

Heather Hansen [00:12:03]:
Everything. That’s why you have me here today so I can supplement. Right? It was all part of your plan, Scott. All of your plan.

Scott McCarthy [00:12:09]:
100%. We I have a 100% taken, credit for something I didn’t plan. But let’s start let’s let’s dive in. Let’s let’s pick at this Right here, the risk of bias. So how can we counter that? Because I I I hear what you’re saying. Like, Emileys, you talk about, you know, the the, you know, the Indian speaker. Like, I think of Apu in the Simpsons. Right? Exactly.

Scott McCarthy [00:12:34]:
It’s exactly that. Yo. Thank thank you. Have a good

Heather Hansen [00:12:37]:
impacted the way yeah. How has that impacted the and I mean, we I think we’re pretty similar in age, so we grew up with the same influences. Right? Like, Indiana Jones and, Simpsons. And, you know, these are this is how we were enculturated. And so what happens when your Your contact with Indian accented English is from The Simpsons. How does that then influence every conversation you have with someone with an Indian accent? Your first impression is, oh, a shopkeeper or perhaps it’s a call center agent. You know? I see this as a massive massive issue because I I’m always hearing, oh, Indian English is so difficult. It’s so I can’t understand Indian English.

Heather Hansen [00:13:17]:
And I hear this across the board. Oh, they talk so fast and this and that. And there’s a very negative feeling associated with it. Well, think about why. Think about where you’ve had contact. Most People in North America growing up or as adults, you know, we have contact with that accent and 1 on 1 conversations with people in call centers. Now why are we calling a call center? Because we’re already angry about something. Something has gone wrong, and we need it fixed.

Heather Hansen [00:13:46]:
And so we’re already frustrated. We’re already angry. Then we call the call center. We get someone who’s based in India. Especially, you know, a lot of American companies, there was a long phase of that. Things have changed a little bit today, but, you know, as we were young adults, for sure, most of our call centers were based there. You’re you’re frustrated already, then you’re speaking to someone you’re having difficulty understanding because you don’t have a lot of contact with that accent. And You’re getting more frustrated, and the minute you hang up the phone, it’s like, they can’t even speak English.

Heather Hansen [00:14:16]:
Right? I mean, that’s the kind of reactions we’re having. And So you equate this really negative emotion with that interaction, and then you carry that along. And then the next person that you meet In a interview for a job, for example, you’re in a hiring position where you need to interview people and they come in and have that kind of accent, And you’re immediately triggered with, oh, they’re just so hard to understand. How am I gonna work with them every day? And you might not be thinking this consciously, but you’re finding other things in the conversation To to bring them down and say, no. They’re just not going to fit in. They’re not going to fit in with our culture. And, that’s a perfect example of how this happens, how things go wrong. So once you are aware that you have these Kinds of biases.

Heather Hansen [00:15:00]:
And for some, it could be an Indian accent. It could be a French accent. You know, when you’re I don’t know the specific dynamics in Canada, but, You know, in Quebec, you have your version of French, which is very different from the French version of French, and there’s huge difficulty across the pond Between Parisian French and Canadian French. All of my Canadian friends who have lived, in France, right, have a lot of difficulty because that’s not real French. Right? And, but we do this within our own language as well. If, in within the US, within Canada, within the UK, The minute someone opens their mouth, you’re deciding where are they from, how educated are they, what’s their socioeconomic status. You have figured it all out. I mean, when we started talking just from your accent even though it’s not very different from mine at all, but there are very small things that I’m like, yep, he is Canadian.

Heather Hansen [00:15:51]:
I can hear it. And And that’s what we do. It’s what we do. But we need to be aware of it so that we turn that filter off When we’re in a more serious conversation that we say, I’m not going to listen to the accent right now. I’m not going to get distracted by this, and I’m going to focus on what they’re Saying the meaning behind the message, not the way that it’s being said to me. But that takes conscious effort. It’s taking those unconscious biases, making them Conscious and then using the slow thinking brain to to rationalize and focus our attention on the right things.

Scott McCarthy [00:16:29]:
So you obviously, you just, as you said, you you picked up I was Canadian. So, obviously, you’ve already pegged me as a Tim Hortons coffee lover and a hockey lover, which the way, it’s completely true.

Heather Hansen [00:16:40]:
You’re just a walking stereotype. We all know it.

Scott McCarthy [00:16:42]:
Totally. Totally. Yeah. Actually, it even goes deeper than that. So I come from the far east of Canada. Like, I live I grew up an hour and a half away from those easterly part of North America. I only called Newfoundland. And, my accent from there has dissolved.

Scott McCarthy [00:17:00]:
Right? It’s gone away. Mhmm. Like Mhmm. We have a seriously

Heather Hansen [00:17:03]:
time and

Scott McCarthy [00:17:04]:
Yeah. Yeah. But once I get, you know, a couple drinks in me, get get talking to people from back home, and it comes right back like that.

Heather Hansen [00:17:11]:
Yep. Comes right But there’s

Scott McCarthy [00:17:13]:
a lot of negative connotations, a lot of negative associations with that accent, across the globe. It’s funny you brought up the French thing. Mhmm. Because my wife is Francophone. Oh, nice. But but she’s Francophone at. We’re meeting from she’s on not Quebecois, but she’s from Ontario. And, we’ve been to Paris, but that’s not the most interesting story I have with her and her French.

Scott McCarthy [00:17:38]:
The most interesting story, we were in Bruges, Belgium. And we were, there, and and we’re ordering a drink from the the local pub. And my wife ordered in French because in Belgium, French is very common. Yeah. And, the waiter took out a coaster, slapped it down on the table, Took out his pen, drew a line through the middle of it, put a circle in the middle with a line there, and he’s like, okay. The bottom half here, that’s southern Belgium. The center, that’s Brussels, and northern, that that is northern Belgium. And he put a dot.

Scott McCarthy [00:18:14]:
In Bruges, we’re here. This is where we speak Flubbish, and then he walked away. Now hers is like We cannot be friends. Yeah. Pretty it is exact yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But he understood her completely because he came back with the drink she had ordered and everything.

Scott McCarthy [00:18:31]:
But it was just, like, instant, you know, instant stereotypes, in you know, instant reaction and all, you know, all the negative stuff that you don’t wanna have happen. So I really you know, your, everything that you talked about really resonates with me because I’ve seen it. I’ve I saw it in I I seen it I saw it in France just like you said. Mhmm. The Parisian French, versus the Canadian French, and they immediately picked up we’re Canadians whenever we speak French. But, the burger story always takes the cake.

Heather Hansen [00:19:02]:
Wow. That’s amazing. But you can see, you know, language is such A deep rooted part of our identities, and it says so much about us. And and I think it’s it’s a little bit sad, you know, that you Have felt in your life that you’ve had to somehow neutralize or move toward the more standard sounding Canadian English because where you come from, That particular accent has negative connotations in a lot of Canadians’ minds. Right? And and we see it in the US as well. I have a friend from Alabama Who has this gorgeous southern drawl. Right? A gorgeous southern American drawl. Well, she went to work on Wall Street in New York.

Heather Hansen [00:19:39]:
Guess how well that went. Right? Yeah. Calling her Pollyanna in meetings and, oh, you know, Southern Belle and, it it just was really, really difficult Called in a male dominated environment, first of all, and then to have that particular accent that was seen as very friendly and kind and hospitable, but not bright in any way. And so it was very hard for her to get respect, and that’s every time she opened her mouth. And it’s a type of bias that isn’t always about that sometimes it is. Like, in her case, people really made it clear that, oh, oh, your accent. You know, everything was about the accent. And that’s so hard when every conversation you have is focused on the way you sound instead of what you’re saying.

Heather Hansen [00:20:19]:
So we do have to be very conscious of that. The other the flip side of this is knowing When we are going out into the world or in conversations as the white westerner native speaker, we were born into a ton of Privilege. Like, massive, massive privilege. Right? I mean, if you imagine, If if any white western CEO goes to China and says, you know, 1 sentence in Chinese, every it’s like a standing ovation. Oh. Oh, wow. Oh my goodness. Oh, he just spoke Chinese, you know.

Heather Hansen [00:20:54]:
But what if any Chinese CEO comes to North America And they can speak fluent English, and they will never get the standing ovation or the or an Even a portion of that respect that that white CEO is getting with their one sentence of Chinese. You know, we really need to remember how Privileged we are, and that we have immediate power in conversations. And that with power comes responsibility. Right? So When you are in a leadership role in a multicultural, multilingual situation, it’s very easy for us to dominate the conversation. We can speak up very quickly. We think very quickly. It’s in our language. We can express ourselves much more easily, and we forget that people could be struggling simply with the language that an extra split second for them to grab the right word.

Heather Hansen [00:21:43]:
They might be thinking about is this grammatical before they raise their hand. They’re still digesting what you just said, And it’s microseconds difference, but yet we end up being dominant and taking over the conversation. We are the ones who have to start Including people in the conversation, inviting people in. You know, Sally, we haven’t heard from you yet. Do you have something to say on this? We have to be very mindful of the fact that we have extreme privilege and power in the global economic business world Because of our language, and that’s another thing we often forget.

Scott McCarthy [00:22:21]:
Yeah. I can’t, I can’t agree with you more just, on the whole, we being very privileged. We you know, western world as a whole being very privileged. Mhmm. So I don’t know if you know the, you know, check out my bio or anything like that, but, you know, this podcast, moving forward leadership, the peak performance leadership podcast. And the whole ecosystem around is my actually my side hustle. You know? I do this my in my spare my my, quote, unquote, free time. Thank you, dear, for allowing me the free time to do this.

Scott McCarthy [00:22:55]:
But by day, I’m a senior Canadian army officer, And I’ve literally been around the globe, so I know the privilege that we have, you know, as westerners. You know, I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve been I’ve been to I I did a deployment to Afghanistan. So I spent 7 months there. I’ve been through, you know, South America, which is, you know, a great place. I wouldn’t say, you know you know, the world’s worst place in it, develop you know, developing areas in South America. I’ve been to the Middle East Mary, I was in Ukraine before the war broke out. You know, I I I’ve been literally all over the world.

Scott McCarthy [00:23:35]:
So, yes, we are very privileged. But what I would suggest, there are a lot of great amazing people out there across this planet, and a lot of very smart people. And I think the the one thing that, you know, brings us together is also the one thing that kinda divides us, and that’s our ability to communicate and, you know, to understand. So Mhmm. How would you go about you know, let’s go back to your friend at Wall Street. Mhmm. And you were the leader of that team, and your friend was, you know, talking with her draw, and and some of the members start piping up with the names and making fun and all this stuff, pointing her out. How would you go about in establishing, you know, that psychological safety for 1 for your team member to to continue to talk the way she talks.

Scott McCarthy [00:24:28]:
But to, establishing culture, you know, that is not only Accepted and respected, but we actually, you know, we actually praise the diversity here in our team. We want the diversity here in our team.

Heather Hansen [00:24:45]:
Yes. Exactly. That is just so important. And it Has to come from the leader. You know, there are certain ways we can work from bottom up, but in these kinds of situations, it really is important that the leader draws the line And says, you know, come on guys. Is that really necessary? I don’t think that’s appropriate. We have to bring it to the surface and talk about it. If we don’t call out that kind of behavior, People will continue with it.

Heather Hansen [00:25:09]:
And so there has to be that line. Just like we do with gender discrimination or racial discrimination, we have no issue saying, woah. That’s not appropriate. We are not going to have a team that runs that way. And yet somehow, little jokes about accent can slip through and we think, oh, but it’s just for fun, you know. No. That’s that’s how we’ve thought about every form of discrimination all the way across the line until we start talking about it and saying, no. Actually, wait a second.

Heather Hansen [00:25:36]:
That isn’t right. So we have to start treating this the same way we would as gender discrimination or Racial discrimination or anything else by voicing it and and naming it because these are micro inequities And they underlie based in her situation, it was underlying a gender discrimination as well. It can also underline racial discrimination. There is some debate around whether or not accent is an ism, if we can say accentism, Because I’m not sure it is a a discrimination in itself, but it underpins so many others. So because of the way they sound, you Assume certain things and then it leads to a racial discrimination or it leads to gender discrimination or or other forms. So It it’s about naming it, having open conversations about it, and making it very clear that these kinds of comments are really not acceptable. And just as You wouldn’t say something about her being female. You also shouldn’t say something about her.

Heather Hansen [00:26:40]:
And they were actually by saying things like, oh, Pollyanna’s here and Going to save the day. And, so so you we really do have to speak it and make it known and draw the line. That’s what the leaders have to do. And that is what what we’re doing to build psychological safety to to to say, look at this is no different than any other A form of discrimination. And and any good leader, I think, is already on board with that and they know how to do that. So it’s just about expanding that to include, accent language in that list. Right?

Scott McCarthy [00:27:14]:
Yeah. No. Yeah. You know, you you gotta be on top of it. Yeah. My point of view, you have to be on top of it. And you have to set the tone and set the tone of Yeah. You know, we we will allow time, you know, for let’s say for the Indian, person who just who just came in from India who speaks, you know, maybe slower or speaks very fast.

Scott McCarthy [00:27:38]:
It takes you know, it’s like, sorry. You know, no offense, but, yeah, I didn’t catch everything. Can you slow down and say and if someone chuckles like, this is This is a team member here. We’re gonna support them. They’re part of our team. They have something important to say. So let’s let’s try this again or, You know, the chuckles And

Heather Hansen [00:27:57]:
that that’s an interesting conversation actually because that’s very, very common that people will say, woah. Woah. Woah. Hold on. Wait. Wait. I can’t understand you. Slow down.

Heather Hansen [00:28:06]:
And that is really putting the the blame on that individual who’s speaking instead of realizing that Yeah. Yeah. Wait a second. Maybe it’s me who hasn’t had enough contact with this accent, and I’m having difficulty because I just haven’t heard it very often. So it’s also about rephrasing. Because we do have to say, you know, I’m I’m really sorry. I’m having difficulty understanding. But instead of putting it on them and saying, I need you to slow down or, sorry.

Heather Hansen [00:28:34]:
You you’re talking too fast. You’re you’re doing this wrong. It’s more of I’m really sorry. I I’m not very familiar with your accent. I haven’t had contact. I haven’t heard your accent before and I’m having some difficulty. So it might take me a little bit longer to to understand, and I might need to ask you to repeat some things. But this is on me.

Heather Hansen [00:28:55]:
Please continue. You know, making it making it more clear that we’re meeting halfway, that it isn’t necessarily the other person’s issue. It’s also ours because we don’t have the global experience or understanding the great majority of us do not, have that global contact. And it will get easier. If you have this new teammate, yes, you’re gonna have difficulty the 1st month to 3 months, but you’re going to tune your ear and every single conversation will get easier. So it kind of proves that it’s not only on their side, it’s also about you tuning your ear. So when HR Calls me and says, oh, we have this person. Their accent’s so heavy.

Heather Hansen [00:29:33]:
Nobody can understand them. And I say, okay. Well, yes, I can work with that individual to help them to Clarify some of their articulation, but I can also work with you to help your team better understand that form of English, that accent. And that is going to speed up the process by a 100 times when we’re working on both sides of the equation. But that’s a very hard sell. And I have to be very honest, very, very, very few, like, 1% of companies will even begin to Think about, oh, that’s interesting. Yeah. Why don’t we run a course on that? They typically think, no.

Heather Hansen [00:30:08]:
No. No. That’s fine. Just work with them. Fix them. Make them more like us. And that’s not honoring diversity. You can’t have a DEI program and guidelines and then say make him like us.

Heather Hansen [00:30:21]:
That is not diversity and inclusion. So it needs to go both ways for sure. And knowing how to manage those conversations and also take responsibility for them that it isn’t only their fault. I was sitting in a bar in Ireland, where my my husband was working there. I was visiting. I was sitting in the pub waiting for him to get off work, and this guy sits down next to me and starts talking to me. I’m quite sure he was speaking in English, But I couldn’t understand a word he said. I honestly couldn’t.

Heather Hansen [00:30:50]:
And he was so embarrassed, but I was more embarrassed. I’m like, no. I’m so sorry. Like, I’m I’m the dumb American. You know, I’m in your country and I but I had only been there a couple days. I was having serious issues. And it’s possible he was mixing Gaelic and it could have been a very local dialect, but we we actually could not have a conversation. Maybe that was good.

Heather Hansen [00:31:09]:
Maybe he was hitting on me. I don’t know. I have no idea what was going on there. But, anyway, I truly I couldn’t understand. And I was saying, no. I’m so sorry. This is this is my fault. Like, I am in your country.

Heather Hansen [00:31:22]:
I’m in your your town. And it’s me with the problem here, not you. You should not feel embarrassed at all. And it’s about having Having that self awareness to know that’s what’s really happening.

Scott McCarthy [00:31:36]:
That’s amazing. I love that story. Howard, so I have a saying. I I I’ve and I’ve any listener of the podcast of any lengths. Heard the saying that is, as a leader, your team is responsible for your successes, and you’re responsible for the team’s failures. And you just absolutely schooled me in my own saying, so thank you for that. In that, the onus is on you, as the leader to to, you know, to under you know, to tune your ear is what I would Yeah. Summarize it as 2 in your ear tuning

Heather Hansen [00:32:11]:
your ear.

Scott McCarthy [00:32:12]:
Ear to, you know, the the members of your team so that you understand the advice, them having to change, so that you can understand that. So that that is a great lesson. So

Heather Hansen [00:32:23]:
both ways. Work both ways. There there are very often Ways that someone with heavily accented English, can become more clear. But the idea is to focus on the clarity of their speech, not to focus on them sounding like you. They don’t have to have a perfect American, Canadian, British accent to be understood. And this is where accent training, accent reduction goes wrong. It’s it shouldn’t be about accent reduction. We have to focus a bit more on the accent recognition Of we also are tuning our ears to meet halfway and to better understand others while the person who is trying to integrate into that Community is also finding ways to, okay, just make very small tweaks to have a crisper t sound or a crisper r sound or Sounds that we know globally can cause confusion, and there’s only a small handful of them that we know from linguistics can cause problems.

Heather Hansen [00:33:17]:
And they can work on those little tweaks, but then the rest of the team can also do their part as well.

Scott McCarthy [00:33:22]:
Mhmm. No. That’s great. I love it. The final kind you know, I say final right now. I’ve said this in the past, and I’ve gone on for another 30 minutes of the podcast. Cass. So in my mind right now, I got 1 more topic I kinda wanna hit before we, you know, we wrap up, and that is onboarding.

Scott McCarthy [00:33:41]:
So how might we, as leaders, ensure we effectively onboard, you know, people from diverse cultures who who speak differently than us, have had these different backgrounds, come from different parts of the world, and so on and so forth so that, You know, we celebrate this diversity advice, you know, what, you know, the the, example you gave up. No. We want them to be more like us. Well, that as we studied the last week, is actually not effective nor does it get your organization move forward, but rather backwards. So How can we as leaders ensure our new employees are onboarded properly so we celebrate them and their and their diversity?

Heather Hansen [00:34:20]:
Yeah. I think this is a really important topic, and it’s great that you’ve been talking about this with your your group as well because I think we’re going to be seeing much, much more of this now that we have moved toward a more remote and diverse workplace. So these Topics that may not have affected a lot of people before are going to start affecting a lot more people because you can be sitting in your Living room in my hometown in California and never leave it, and the world is now coming to you. And I think a lot of people are going to find that they have new teammates, People who are either from all different places in the world or have chosen to be based in new places in the world, And they’re going to come with new cultural challenges, and we have to be aware of this and open to it. So going back to the question of the onboarding, That’s it it is a very big question. And it’s about knowing that you’ve the value has to be there to value diversity. That has to be Top of the list in the company itself and something that you’re living every day more than just diversity and inclusion plan. But you have to be understanding that When you value diversity, you are going to have to face more conflict because people should not be thinking like you.

Heather Hansen [00:35:34]:
They should have different ideas. They shouldn’t be talking like you. They shouldn’t look like you. They should be very different people and you’re gonna be dealing with difference all the time. And for people who aren’t used to that, that can be difficult. Right? They don’t want to take on those more challenging conversations. And so being authentic, being honest, being open in the communication is going to be key. And you’re going to be forced into these conversations much more often.

Heather Hansen [00:35:59]:
And if you are avoiding conflict, you’re gonna have big problems because you’re gonna be experiencing a lot more conflict, not in a Negative way, but in a challenging exciting way. And if we can reframe that to Just because they’re different, it doesn’t mean it has to be hard and negative and a challenge. It can be exciting and we can be curious about it. And Tell me more. Why do you think that way? I think one of the most powerful questions is, tell me what I don’t see right now Or show me what I’m not seeing right now. Because when you are looking at the same situation And 1 person comes up with 1 strategy that you just think is absolutely out there. You cannot figure it out. And you’re coming at it from another side saying, no.

Heather Hansen [00:36:47]:
That’s insane. How could you think that way? There must be something you aren’t seeing. And you aren’t seeing it because of your upbringing, your education, your culture, your language, whereas they are seeing the situation differently. So ask them, you know, what is it that you see that I don’t? There’s a blind spot here, and I’m not seeing the world the way that you do. Show me show me your picture, Your map of the world, because I I’m just not understanding that. And if you can be curious about that and this starts at the onboarding process. It’s about asking the questions. How do you like to be, acknowledged, for example? You know, from an American perspective, I want my gold star.

Heather Hansen [00:37:32]:
I want my public recognition. I wanna be called out in a meeting and I wanna be told that how Brilliant and amazing I am in front of everybody. The more the better. Right? I want the award. I want a trophy on my desk. I want it all. There are many, many people in the world who do not want that. Right? Who do not wanna be singled out in the meeting, who want you to come to them privately and say, listen.

Heather Hansen [00:37:54]:
I see what you’re doing. I know what a good job you’re doing, and thank you. And they don’t need all that public recognition. These things need to be discussed in that onboarding process so that you can really learn to understand people on your team And you know how to acknowledge them. You know how to reward them. Even in my own team, I have a a full time assistant finance person, And she is Singaporean Chinese. She’s of a different generation. She’s turning 60 this year, and she’s amazing.

Heather Hansen [00:38:24]:
She’s been with me now for 2 years? 2 years? And, I am the type who makes a big deal about everything. You know, if She does something. I wanna send her flowers. I want to post it on social media. I wanna make a huge deal about how amazing she is, and she is incredibly private. She does not want any of that. And so I’ve had to have those conversations of, you know, how can I acknowledge you? Because I’m doing it the way that I know, The way that I like, but that isn’t the way you like. You we we follow the golden rule, treat others the way you want to be treated.

Heather Hansen [00:39:00]:
That’s totally narcissistic and self centered. You if you treat everybody the way you want to be treated, you’re just thinking about yourself. Not everyone on your team thinks like you do and wants to be treated the way you do. We need to treat people the way they want to be treated, and the onboarding process is the perfect place To start those conversations to say tell me about you. Tell me about how you like to communicate. Tell me about, you know, how you show up in the workplace. Tell me, when you’re having a hard time, are you open about that? Are you private? Do I need to ask a lot of questions? What are you comfortable sharing with us? All of this can be done in the onboarding phase, and that is a perfect opportunity to lay all of these things out on the table so that you know how to work with that individual and better understand them and And respect them for who they are and let them bring their ideas in a way that they are comfortable doing so. And that’s how you can have a really successful diverse Workforce, in my opinion.

Scott McCarthy [00:40:00]:
So many great points in there and, you know, so many great tangible action items. But to summarize it, in my mind, it’s like, hey. Have a solid conversation with the person when you know, maybe even before they show up the day 1. Right? And so that you can you know, I would suggest even then inform your team of some of the the things that you’ve learned of the individual, how they like you recognize or or do you expect them to be the shy person? You know? And there’s a lot of introversion versus extroversion in in what you’re talking about, which oh, by the way, that’s what we’re looking at next week. Right? So And

Heather Hansen [00:40:36]:
we use a lot of these profile tools. Right? A lot of companies are using Massive personality profiles, cultural profiles, we’re using all of those before hiring, but then we aren’t actually paying attention to the data that we learn And using it instead of valuing the real the main reason we hired them, which was because they were different, We work as hard as we can in the 1st 6 months to make them just like us. What is the point? So unless you’re going to really value that diversity and understand it and be curious about it. It’s a total waste. Forget all the personality assessments unless you’re going to then really try to get the best out of that person because of that difference that they’re bringing to the table. That’s the whole point. So use the data that you learn to better understand and Fulfill that curiosity and start more conversations around, okay, how can we bring out that that unique bit of you So that you can make the best impact on this organization and our team. That’s the whole point.

Scott McCarthy [00:41:39]:
Heather, I thought you’re going to stand up and take that microphone that’s on your desk, like, slam it down after you’re done talking there.

Heather Hansen [00:41:46]:
Mic drop. Like, slam. Wow. So passionate about this stuff.

Scott McCarthy [00:41:55]:
Oh, I love it. I love it because I’m very similar. I get fired up when I get going too. I just said earlier that, you know, that was the final thing, and guess what? I lied. Of course, there is one more thing I wanna look at. But that’s because I was looking at your book on Amazon. Actually, I was grabbing the link to put it in the show notes. And the last bit of your Subtitle of your book was inspire action, and I was just like, I cannot Not ask her about inspiring action because us as leaders, we need to inspire.

Scott McCarthy [00:42:31]:
We need to inspire action. So that speaks volumes to me. So, Heather, how do leaders go about inspiring action from your point of view?

Heather Hansen [00:42:42]:
Yeah. Well well, the full Title of the book is unmuted, how to show up, speak up, and inspire action. So that inspiring action is the final piece of the puzzle. And for me, it comes down to creating a connected communication culture. So people are inspired by you when you resonate with them. When you show up and you show that you’re human and you show your failures and how you what you have learned from them, how you have overcome them, And people are inspired by that. They want to know your story. It comes down to being human and having good people skills and human skills.

Heather Hansen [00:43:18]:
So The book is divided into these areas of conscious communication. That’s the showing up part. And and in your terms, it’s the leading yourself part. And then it there’s confident communication, so your self worth and also your skills in communicating. And then this connected communication piece which is all around building that diverse psychologically safe environment, building the strong relationships and connection with your team, And coming from a place of vulnerability, authenticity, having no fear of failure, of intelligent failure in any case, well thought out risk Taking not just stupid failure that people weren’t thinking, they weren’t following operating procedures. I mean, You’re in the military. That’s dangerous. Right? There are certain failures that are dangerous.

Heather Hansen [00:44:05]:
But intelligent failure, which is well thought out, Where the risk has been calculated, where we’re gonna take a chance on this new product and we’re gonna dump a bunch of money into a marketing campaign. It might not work. But guess what? If it doesn’t, we learn something from it. That is intelligent failure. So as a leader, you are inspiring others By creating these connections with your team, by telling them about yourself, your stories, your success, your failure, so that it resonates with them in a way that they want to be and do everything you’re doing. They want to follow your lead and your vision and and your values that you’ve you’ve incorporated into the organization. And for me, from a communication perspective, I think that is the way you’re going to be most effective in inspiring a team to follow

Scott McCarthy [00:44:55]:
Yeah. Love it. I hear a lot of humility in there in what you talked about. You know, celebrating, celebrating wins, but also celebrating and learning from failures. And it’s interesting that how you put that because I literally was having one of those conversations this afternoon with my deputy and talking about a operation where I made a mistake and well, I shouldn’t say I made a mistake. I I I missed an opportunity to act, which caused a ripple effect. So Mhmm. If I if I was If I had the opportunity to speak up and actually, you know, say, hey.

Scott McCarthy [00:45:31]:
We’re making a mistake here, blah blah blah. You know, the the chain reaction of events Would not have been as bad as what it was, but, unfortunately, it, you know, transpired. But in the end, we think things were good. We worked it out, but I was using that example saying, you know, this is one of those times where I wish you know? And that now actually becomes, A bit of message. When I when I speak to courses, I still speak to, you know, our our officers who are in training, and I and I am open about I’m like, yeah. I screwed up. I should’ve I should’ve stood up and said no. I should’ve said something here.

Scott McCarthy [00:46:07]:
I had the opportunity. I didn’t seize that moment. And in the end, you know, Not only me, but, you know, a lot of people, I shouldn’t say, had to pay for the mistake because we didn’t you know, No one got hurt or injured or anything like that, but the moral of the story was, it was not we were not as efficient or effective as what we should have been at that moment. And we had to do a lot of juggling and lot of work, to fix that. And so now it’s like, this is what I’m trying to instill in our younger generations for my failure because I still own it. Saying no. You know? We this is we need to change this mindset mentality. So so Love it.

Scott McCarthy [00:46:47]:
Yeah. Absolutely love it. Heather, just

Heather Hansen [00:46:48]:
If you don’t share that, you can’t learn from it. Right? And they can learn so much from someone in your situation who’s been through that. So absolutely. That’s it’s wonderful you’re being open about it and talking about it. That’s that’s the only way to be.

Scott McCarthy [00:47:02]:
You got to. Because If not, how does the organization learn? If if we if we hide all these things, these mistakes or mishaps or whatever, You know, there’s times where we learn things the hard way. If we hide all that because, oh, I, as a leader, I can’t show weakness. I, as a leader, need to, you know, be seen as knowing all, being all blah blah blah. You’re you’re not, you know, you’re not relatable anymore. People think you’re a fraud. You’re not passing on the lessons. There’s so many negativities.

Scott McCarthy [00:47:34]:
You gotta, you know, eat your humble pie, and be open and transparent as far as I’m concerned. Because end of the day, guess what? No leader stays in their job forever. And if you’re going to turn around and waste, you know, how many years? I got 21 years. You know, next month, it’s gonna be a full complete 21 years of service under my belt. So if I wanna turn around and waste that 21 years, it’s by not passing on a single lesson to someone behind me. Right? Absolutely. There we go. I just got on my soapbox.

Scott McCarthy [00:48:04]:
Take my mic.

Heather Hansen [00:48:05]:
Yeah. Well done. Mic drop mic drop right there.

Scott McCarthy [00:48:07]:
Mic drop. Heather, this has been a fantastic conversation. Unfortunately, we do go to wrap it up here. Before we do, I got a couple last questions for you. The first one being a question is, all the guests here at the Peak Performance Leadership Podcast, and that is according to you. Heather, what makes a great leader?

Heather Hansen [00:48:29]:
For me, this is the obvious answer. I know. But for me, a great leader is a great communicator. And If you aren’t embracing your communication and connecting with every individual on your team in a personal way, I don’t think that you can really call yourself a leader. So great leader is a great communicator.

Scott McCarthy [00:48:51]:
Fitting, but yet, I would suggest, very fair. Well said. Okay. Final question of the show is how can people find you? I can follow you, be part of your journey. It’s all about you.

Heather Hansen [00:49:03]:
It’s all about me. Oh, I love that. Speak straight to my American heart. Right? So okay. The book, which just came out this week in Canada and the US and South America, can be found Hopefully, in your local bookstore, but if not, you can get it on Amazon, of course. My company in Singapore is Global Speech Academy .com, And you can also find me at heatherhansen.com, and that’s where you’ll learn more about my writing and and media appearances and speaking. So and, of course, on LinkedIn, I’m very happy to connect with everyone, anyone. I love conversations there.

Heather Hansen [00:49:41]:
So please do connect, and, Yeah. Hope to meet some of your listeners out there in the in the world sometime soon.

Scott McCarthy [00:49:50]:
Yeah. For the listeners always, it’s easy For you, just go to lead don’t boss .comforward/221. 221. Lead don’t boss .comforward/ 221. And, yes, if you’re super noticeable, that is a different URL. And don’t worry about it because it just forwards to the normal one. So, anyway, leadoposs.comforward/221. And the links are in the show notes.

Scott McCarthy [00:50:13]:
Heather, again, thanks for coming out. It’s been a pleasure, ma’am. Thoroughly enjoyed our convo today.

Heather Hansen [00:50:18]:
Thanks so much, Scott. Thanks for having me.

Scott McCarthy [00:50:23]:
And that’s a wrap for this episode, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening. Thank you for supporting the Peak Performance Leadership podcast. But you know what you could do to truly port the podcast and know that’s not leaving a rating and review. It’s simply helping a friend, and that is helping a friend by sharing this episode with them if you think this would resonate with them and help them elevate their performance level whether that’s within themselves, their teams, or their organization. So do that. Help me. Help a friend Win win all around, and, hey, you look like a great friend at the same time.

Scott McCarthy [00:51:01]:
So just hit that little share button on your app, And then feel free to fire this episode to anyone that you feel would benefit from it. Finally, there’s always more. There’s always more lessons around being the highest performing leader that you can possibly be, Whether that’s for yourself, your team, or your organization, so why don’t you subscribe? Subscribe to the show via moving forward leadership .comforward/subscribe. Until next time, we don’t boss, and thanks for coming out. Take care now.