What I Learned from Interviewing 100 Plus Guests · ShiftWorkPlace

Insights Into Culture and Leadership Episode 1: What I Learned from Interviewing 100 Plus Guests

What I Learned from Interviewing 100 Plus Guests

A reflection on 120 podcast episodes.

Episode Highlights:

In the first episode of “Insights into Culture and Leadership,” I share a powerful story from my experience in Haiti after an earthquake. I draw a contrast between good and bad leadership, exemplified by a compassionate youth leader working with orphans and a harsh teacher in a school.

I met a Haitian youth leader who demonstrated exemplary leadership by working with earthquake orphans, fostering healing through music and expression and helping them to gradually see their worth again.

After the experience with the youth leader and the boys, we observed some classes where the teachers berated the students, and punished them for speaking at all. The students were fearful and humiliated. When we worked with the youth leaders and some of the teachers, we decided to create an activity called “leadership soup.”

We formed a circle with the children and asked them to share what ingredients they would like in a night soup, like the ones sold on the streets in Haiti. Many of the children struggled to speak or appeared on the verge of tears, accustomed to punishment for speaking out. We reassured them, and gradually, they began to open up. Those children who had been working with the youth leader and knew they were safe to speak were the first to contribute to the “leadership soup” activity, which encouraged the others to speak too.

These contrasting experiences highlight the profound influence of leadership on behavior and actions. I define good leadership as that which brings help, insight, health, and healing to individuals, communities, and the environment. This story serves as a backdrop for my subsequent reflection on the common themes observed in the 120 interviews I conducted for the Culture and Leadership Connections podcast.

Six Key Insights Emerging from the Interviews:

  1. Role of Hardship and Adversity in Character Development: All interviewees, regardless of the type or severity of their challenges, spoke about the transformative role of hardship and adversity in shaping their character.
  2. Transformation from Suffering: Those who thrived understood the value of transforming their suffering, leading to increased empathy and a profound ability to connect with others.
  3. Embracing Community: Almost everyone expressed a sense of belonging to a community or society, recognizing the importance of collaboration and shared values. Only three out of the 120 felt like they did not need a community to thrive.
  4. Fluid Identity and Solid Values: Interviewees exhibited a willingness to evolve and adapt their identities while holding onto solid values. This flexibility allowed for ongoing personal growth and positive influence based on values.
  5. Humility Through Unexpected Challenges: Even those with privilege and great talent faced unexpected challenges, fostering humility and a realistic understanding of life’s uncertainties.
  6. Influence of Family: Family, whether positive or challenging, played a foundational role in the development of each person interviewed.

I conclude the episode by emphasizing the significance of reflection, transformation, and humility in leadership, whether at home or the workplace. I encourage you to consider these insights and apply them in your leadership journeys.

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