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E4 Leadership For Introverts with Yvonne Chiu

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Bio for Yvonne Tiu

Yvonne was born in Burma and raised in Hong Kong. She immigrated with her family to Canada at the age of 16, and learned firsthand what it is like to be a minority youth growing up in Edmonton Canada struggling with one’s cultural identity.

Upon graduating from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor Degree, majoring in Psychology within the Faculty of Science, one of her first jobswas working as a Settlement Practitioner in Edmonton’s busy Chinatown, serving newcomer families from Hong Kong, Vietnam and other parts of Asia.

In 1991, she joined the Provincial Government’s Multiculturalism Commission as a Social Development Officerto support community-based organizations pursuing meaningful initiatives around promoting multiculturalism and social inclusion. By 1992, Yvonne became a Health Promotion Practitioner with the Health Promotion team at the former Edmonton Board of Health workingwith indigenous and immigrant/refugee/newcomer populations, and learned about the principles of health equity and social justice formarginalized populations.

Through this work, Yvonne ended up meeting and developing lifelong relationships with thefounding members of the Multicultural Health Brokers Co-operative (MCHB). In 1994, she and 12 others createdthe Multicultural Health Brokers Workers’ Cooperative Ltd.Over the past 24 years, the MCHB Co-op has become a unique immigrant-led and awarded winning workers co-operative. Awards received include the 2006 Annual Worker Cooperative Award from Canadian Workers Cooperative Federation and the 2012 Public Interest Alberta’s award for advocacy for the public good.

Yvonne continues to be passionate about making visible and sharing knowledge generated at the grassroots by immigrant/refugee and newcomer families, natural leaders and the MCHB Cultural Brokers in their ongoing quest to find thetrue nature of social inclusion and inter-culturalism.

Episode highlights:

In my heritage, the society doesn’t value girls. Even sothe Chinese society is strongly matriarchal. The matriarch is the real leader in the family and my grandmother was the most peaceful and loving person in the family. You felther leadership in the form of her grace and unconditional love. Even invisible, a grandmother can be a strongly powerful influence. As a Daoist leader, my grandmother personified bringing out the best in others, guiding others from the side, quietly. This is the type of leadership that introverted people like me can really grown into. This made me very proud to be Chinese.

Links:

Quotes:

  • “Even with very difficult life circumstances, human beingsare incredibly strong. They becomeeven stronger when surrounded by love.”
  • “It is important to be intentional about opportunities to be democratic. We need that, because it is good for our souls.”
  • “I believe it is important to create room for individuals to have democratic relationships at work, even in a hierarchy.”
  • “As a Daoist leader, my grandmother personified bringing out the best in others, guiding others from the side, quietly. This is the type of leadership that introverted people like me can really grow into.”
  • “Believe people who have relational skills and use those insights to harmonize workplace relationships.”
  • “It is helpful to deliberately open a space for introverts so we feel able to contribute.”
  • “Human stories can inform policy and inform systems.”

Takeaways:

Childhood incidents:

From the age of 2-16 I was in Hong Kong living in one apartment with 10 adults, all family members. Living in an environment with many elders, Iwas very observant of relationships and perceptive of emerging conflict. I could feel mywhole body sensing emerging tension andas a resultlearned to negotiate andarbitrate for people. Iwas fortunate to grow up in a very loving and supportive family. People have told me, ‘Yvonne, you ooze love’, even though I’m not conscious of it.

Groups you were born into:

In my culture, the society doesn’t value girls. Even so the Chinese society is strongly matriarchal. The matriarch is the real leader in the family and my grandmother was the most peaceful and loving person in the family. You felt her leadership in the form of her grace and unconditional love. Even invisible,a grandmother can be a strongly powerful influence. As a Daoist leader, my grandmother personified bringing out the best in others, guiding others from the side, quietly. This is the type of leadership that introvertedpeople like me can really growinto.This made me very proud to be Chinese.

Groups you chose to belong to:

Learning from the Multicultural leaders, I learned that we have so much in common in our shared humanity. We can build loving and solid relationships in great diversity. Our leaders are strong people in their communities and are always serving others, evenas they negotiate their own immigration process and stories. Even with very difficult life circumstances, human beings are incredibly strong. They are even stronger when surrounded by love. We do use the word “love” in our organization. We say we love each other and the people we serve. This is a definition of love that is very transcending, even with strangers. I am learning about love and honoring each other and how we build strength through that process. We are determined to promote love in all sectors,because that is what the world needs to grow.

Temperament and personality influences

I am an extreme introvert, yet very engaged in relational work. I get quickly drained if I must be with a large group of people over time. I need time to refresh and rejuvenate. But as an introvert I allow myself to listen and not to feel obligated to speak. This has given me the skills to facilitate and negotiate. I can gather diverse views and reflect them back to the groupquite easily. Just like in my childhood, I sense emerging tensions and feel the energy of the group. I also see harmony and how to optimize it.

A time I became aware that my way of doing things was cultural and specific to my cultural experience

The Chinese culture puts a lot of emphasis on context and the unspoken. Chinese painting is focused as much on what is not painted as what is painted. This context is something we find is not noticed by other cultures. We put a lot of emphasis on context and the implicit, the unspoken. Others may miss that. Or not believe me when I explain it.

Advice to an employer to work with me

“Don’t judge me for being an introvert! Allow me opportunities to explain invisible contexts and contextual aspects that others might miss. Trust me, and others who bring other senses and other ways of being to the workplace and see what can be learned from that. Believe people who have relational skills and use those insights to harmonize workplace relationships. It is helpful to deliberately open a space for introverts so we feel able to contribute.”

More great insights from our guest!

Because of our organizational promise and commitment to democracy at the Multilcultural Health Brokers, I believeit is important to createroom for individuals to have democratic relationshipsat work, even in a hierarchy. It is possible to have democracy inside a hierarchy. We need that, because it is good for our souls. It is important to be conscious and intentional about opportunities to be democratic. Human storiescan inform policy and inform systems. Get involved in finding ways to hear the stories of the people in your community.

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