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Sept. 8, 2022

192 The Importance of Empathy in Leadership and Empathy’s Role in the Future of Leadership with Sophie Wade | Partnering Leadership Global Thought Leader

192 The Importance of Empathy in Leadership and Empathy’s Role in the Future of Leadership with Sophie Wade | Partnering Leadership Global Thought Leader
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In this episode of Partnering Leadership, Mahan Tavakoli speaks with Sophie Wade, founder of Flexcel Network, work futurist, speaker, and author of Empathy Works: The Key to Competitive Advantage in the New Era of Work. In the episode, Sophie Wade talks about why empathy is a crucial corporate value and how it enables workforce transformation. Sophie Wade also shared examples of leading with Empathy and Empathy's role in human collaboration. Finally, Sophie Wade talked about how leaders can gauge the appropriate level and role of empathy at work.  


Some highlights:

- How culture influences empathy in the workplace

- Sophie Wade's on how to develop greater empathy 

- How leaders can encourage greater empathy in their teams and organizations

- Sophie Wade on whether there is a "right" amount of empathy in the workplace 

- Why the future of work requires even greater levels of empathy 

- Sophie Wade on the impact of hybrid work on team collaboration


- Satya Nadella, executive chairman and CEO of Microsoft


Connect with Sophie Wade:

Sophie Wade’s Website

Empathy Works on Amazon 

Sophie Wade on Twitter

Sophie Wade on LinkedIn

Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:


More information and resources available at the Partnering Leadership Podcast website: 


Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:

Mahan Tavakoli Website

Mahan Tavakoli on LinkedIn

Partnering Leadership Website


[00:00:00] Mahan Tavakoli: Welcome to partnering leadership. I'm really excited this week to be welcoming Sophie Wade, Sophie is a speaker, author, and an authority on the future of work. She is also the podcast host of transforming work, and in this episode, we spend most of our time talking about her latest book, "Empathy Works: The key to competitive advantage in the new era of work."

I love Sophie's insights on the importance of empathy in leading our teams and organizations. I'm sure you will both enjoy the conversation and learn a lot from it. I also enjoy hearing from you. Keep your comments coming, mahan@mahantavakoli.com, there's also a microphone icon on partnering leadership.com. You can leave voice messages for me there. Don't forget to follow the podcast. Tuesday conversations with magnificent change makers from the greater Washington DC DMV region and Thursday conversations with brilliant global thought leaders like Sophie.

Now here's my conversation with Sophie Wade.

Sophie Wade, welcome to partnering leadership. I'm thrilled to have you in this conversation with me.

[00:01:09] Sophie Wade: It's such a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having.

[00:01:12] Mahan Tavakoli: Can't wait to talk about "Empathy Works: the key to competitive advantage in the new era

of work." But before we get to empathy and its importance in the workplace, Sophie would love to, know whereabouts you grew up and how your upbringing impacted the kind of person you've become.

[00:01:29] Sophie Wade: Hopefully I've never quite grown up. Let's just put that out there first of all. But, I grew up in London. And dad was in BBC, my mother was a teacher. So was looking at the world in a large way in quite a sort of international. My grandfather was Russian, people all over the place. I then studied Chinese at university and I've lived and worked in five different countries.

And in studying Chinese, that really opened my eyes to a very different culture to my own in fact, there are similarities but many differences, and that set me on the pathway of understanding or needing to understand by working in different countries, for example, in Hong Kong for five years, really trying to understand other people's perspectives. Cuz if you're going to succeed in another country, you need to try and understand the culture and how people are thinking about things. Some of the basic things like, reincarnation is something that's very important in the Chinese culture. And that's how we look at things differently in Western European cultures in terms of things like that. So that was a really important life changing experience that I had. Then living and working in Germany and a little bit in Italy and, between England and France, all of those places have very different ways of working.

So by the time I got to the US, I'd already had many different experiences. About what work means, the value of it, whether who works over the weekends, who doesn't. So when I got to this country, I didn't have a sort of set, work is like this, I just, each time it was new experience, I was learning new things. And that really set me on the pathway of, where I am in terms of really looking at different ways of working and understanding people differently and trying to properly put myself in their shoes. So that's my journey here.

[00:03:17] Mahan Tavakoli: What are wonderful opportunities through living in those different countries to need to adjust and develop greater empathy? One of the things I was wondering Sophia, as I was thinking about empathy in the workplace. I traveled a lot for work myself also and noticed some of the cultural differences.

I wonder if empathy in the workplace is also partly cultural. So are there cultures where people are more comfortable with empathy in the workplace and cultures that have separated that feeling from the action of getting the work done?

[00:03:57] Sophie Wade: That's an interesting question. I think it's more timing. I think in the past, historically, there's been more of, " my word is my bond" type of thing. It had to be based on handshakes. We didn't have the whole legal system supporting all of those type of things. A lot of business transactions were relationship based, and that was what had to rely on.

Now with legal, with all these different things, we were able to move to a more transactional way of doing business. Now we have the phrase I love and hate to say, "it's not personal it's business."

Where's that, so I think it has been more about how things have changed over time and the speed perhaps of how we've been doing business or the structures, the legal frameworks we have that we haven't had to rely on relationships.

But I think, yes, there's probably some cultural differences in terms of business and empathy. I think generally it has been something that we practice much more in our personal lives than in our business lives. And I think in those cultures, and in countries where there is much more of a relationship connection and a much more fluid relationship between business and non-business, I think those are where the empathy will play in much more.

But I think it is something that is needed. Just to change the dynamics of the relationships we're having to work much more closely together and across global distances, local distances and cultures and all these different gaps that we need to bridge and human understanding is a thing that's gonna help us with that.

[00:05:32] Mahan Tavakoli: Sophie. In some instances, people say empathy is more of a trait and you believe it to be more of a skill that can be developed. How can empathy be developed in your view?

[00:05:45] Sophie Wade: I look at empathy as being both a value, in terms of corporate value, you can have empathy as a value. It's also a mindset or orientation or approach that you can have generally overall, and it's a skill that you can practice.

So I think, that's, what's interesting about it for me, because you really can infuse a corporation, an organization, and the workforce in many different ways with empathy. So in terms of the skill and how you can learn it, it has three steps, think, feel, and act. In terms of the thinking piece of it, putting yourself in somebody else's shoes and really trying to understand the world from their perspective.

And that is useful, whether it's dealing with a customer, particularly that selling with empathy is something that is really more and more important now. Sellers used to have all the power and the buyers, needed all the information from the seller in order to be able to work out whether to buy something or not.

Now thanks to our smartphone and the internet, we have so much information already before we connect with any seller. So the seller really has to be able to reach out and connect with the person who they're trying to convert. So there are so many different instances now that we're needing to utilize those skills with customers with employees, understanding with our teammates when we're trying to come up with a minimal viable product. There's been some customer feedback we need to iterate, we need to make an upgrade on the product cross service cuz our competitors have and how we going to work together quickly.

So those are times where we can really use empathy to understand, to connect, to communicate better, to be listening much harder to the other person. And really empathy is also instrumental in trust and creating that safe space so that when you're collaborating and really trying to come up with new ideas, everybody feels safe, feels welcomed and feels that they can contribute their best and crazy ideas, which may be, what's going to actually create the competitive advantage.

For your team and your company going forward. So there are many different aspects that where empathy is very helpful and different ways that it can be learned and practiced.

[00:07:51] Mahan Tavakoli: One of the things you also mentioned is that modeling of that empathy is important. I talk a lot about. Satya Nadella, and he has done a lot of things really well in his leadership, his modeling of empathy has been inspiring to other leaders at Microsoft.

What are some examples that you have of leaders creating a culture that encourages. Greater empathy.

[00:08:21] Sophie Wade: Yes, he is fabulous in that. In fact, just at the world economic forum, when Kyle Schwab was just interviewing him, the first question that Schwab had, his response was about empathy he used the word caring, but he then said stepping into the shoes of others. And if Microsoft is going to be able to sell well and really grow, we need to be to stepping in the shoes of our customers and potential customers. He is really focused on that. I think there are CEOs all over the place and it can be all way through the organization obviously having, a CEO who really exemplifies it for all the people in the organization is really important in terms of that modeling.

[00:09:02] Mahan Tavakoli: So Sophie, empathy is really important and leaders , would probably rate themselves higher on empathy than some of their team members would. Sometimes their pushback is what is too much empathy. And added to that is Paul Bloom out of Yale University has written a book against empathy.

Part of his case is that empathy for leaders can distort our judgment. So can we have too much empathy? What is the right level of empathy for leaders?

[00:09:37] Sophie Wade: I'm interested that he went so far as to write a book about that. I think there's so much more empathy that would needed to be infused into the workplace before we need to be concerned about that, that's one thing.

Empathy is about human understanding. And it doesn't mean that you, are bulldozed that you do everything that the other person wants. That's not the point. That's not what empathy is. It's about, first of all, understanding what the other person is thinking then tapping into their emotions, really understanding their experience. So it's really trying to say, I'm not judging you from my perspective. I'm not thinking about my reaction. In the book, I talk about a balance of needs. So it's not only thinking about your needs or only think about my needs. It's really trying to make sure that there's a balance in between.

The whole point about being a leader is to really understand whether it's your executive team or the employees or anybody in your ecosystem, trying to understand what the right balance of need is going to be and you have the information that you need so that you understanding other people's perspectives and then making the right decision.

 At the core, for me, empathy is really about human understanding and I don't see how we could be better off with less, human understanding when we're trying to build businesses and keep our employees and engage them in a sustainable way.

[00:10:57] Mahan Tavakoli: And I know you addressed this too, Sophie, even when it comes to conversations around diversity and inclusion and psychological safety, that ability to have greater empathy to connect with other team members is really important. So you have written about empathy and one of the things I like about your book is that you have exercises for people to develop their empathy.

What might be something that listeners can think through for themselves in order to work on increasing their level of empathy?

[00:11:32] Sophie Wade: The whole point of the book was really to set the stage, create a framework so people could understand where we are, cause it's really about the future of work and how we're moving forward. And the human centric element, that really is an important counterbalance to all the technology that we're doing. So it's really important to be able to move forward and understand how to take those steps.

Now that we are working at a faster pace and we are doing a lot more teamwork, the many more projects that we're working on together in groups of 2, 3, 4, and more, it's really critical to listen. And that's one of the first steps. Because the more that you listen, the more that you can empathize, it's more about understanding how the other person sees the world. And so trying to step back from one's own reaction. Okay. Oh, I wouldn't do that. Just stop. And maybe crystallize your own reaction so you can put it aside for the moment, and then focus how is that person thinking? How is that person feeling? And if you aren't sure at all, just ask questions and open questions. Trying to say, I'm not quite sure that I got this right. Is that what you were trying to explain? And what other data would help me understand this? Because I'm a little bit confused still, or I'm not clear about this particular element.

The more you are drawing understanding out, the more that you can put yourself in the other person's shoes and see how they're seeing it. And it helps you bridge a gap if you have this information and they have different information, like what different information they do and how has that affected their opinion?

So listening, asking open questions, and another aspect of it really to help empathize, to help just the process of empathizing is to look for common ground to find common ground and create shared memories. That's where building relationships. People do not have to be friends, but the more that we have good relationships, it puts us on the same side of the table.

So that at least maybe you and I, we both love successions or, whatever it might on TV program, sports team, whatever it might be, then we at least know, even if we're going into a challenging conversation, that there are some areas where you and I do see eye to eye and that's gonna help us be more willing to look for the points of connection and agreement rather than remain separated and distant and just reside with our conflict.

[00:13:50] Mahan Tavakoli: What you mentioned, Sophie really resonates because one of the biggest challenges we have is asking open ended questions and truly listening with a desire to understand and connect with that other person. Now, with the transition of many organizations to a hybrid environment, I was meeting with the CEO yesterday and she was frustrated about the fact that they have a flexible return to work option of three days a week back to the office and almost no one's coming back. So people are not taking advantage of interacting with each other. And her question was, what can I do to help? With these connections, because over the past couple of years, they have hired a lot of people who at times have met each other through zoom, but haven't had the chance to have the kind of conversations you talk about Sophie to show greater empathy and to connect better.

So what can leaders do both as their transitioning into the hybrid environment and for the future of work, to make sure to provide the opportunities for people to engage and have greater empathy for each other.

[00:15:05] Sophie Wade: Hybrid models are more complicated because they're different for not only every company, but they're different for different teams for different departments, because they're made up of different people and some people really want to go back to the office, a young person may have been completely sick of being at home with their two roommates, was fine when they could all go out drinking. But when they couldn't, there's like enough already, they want to go back when they're going to be other senior people at the same time in the office so they can connect about career things and look at different projects and look at how they might be able to develop their careers.

So there are lots of different elements that go into how people are now thinking about what happens at the office and really thinking about, cause someone put it to me recently, the function of the office, like what is happening there? I think about the hub and club. The hub aspect that you might come together for collaboration exercises you can collaborate virtually for sure, we've managed to do that very well over the last couple of years, there's also the club aspect, which is, generating more deepening relationships in different ways. And so yes, particularly for newly onboarded employees to help them connect and feel comfortable on a team asking questions when they don't know , their teammates well, and they might feel stupid or just uncomfortable to raise their hand.

The question is how are they being lured back to the office? and I understand for many leaders who have been able to say, you have to come to the office. It hasn't been a question of trying to entice people back to the office, it has been a traumatic couple of years and those people who have enough space at home who, got enough broadband bandwidth, that they have been comfortable, now that they know that they can work really well like that, it's a question of how is it going to be set up?

So I can be working in a positive way, and I know that people are going to be there. I interviewed the, a guy who had set up a company called tactic. And what they do is a part of it that the core is a very simple thing, which basically shows me when people are going to be in the office that I might want to oh, Mary's going to be there then, and Margie and, Marcus is not gonna be there tomorrow, basically be there on Wednesday, so maybe I'll go on Monday and Wednesday this week. If they have a very flexible way of doing things. You can also follow people, and so I can go, okay, whenever Mark says, he's going to be in the office, then I might, want to be there then and I could sort it out that way.

And these were important things as we are trying to design the new way forward. That goes to everything about how we work and very much included with what role the office plays. What I'm going to be doing there, the type of work I'm gonna be doing there, and really doing that purposefully and intentionally.

So that is why, if you're just expecting people to turn up, no disrespect to this woman, but it really needs to be thinking, how am I going to let them know that people are going to be there? If they are going to be working on some collaboration, create the atmosphere so that making sure that people are there. So it is really about designing work and thinking about how people can work effectively and what role the office plays.

There are lots of people who want to be in the office, a good number of days a week, but it's just trying to set it up so that it's going to help them do their best work wherever they are.

[00:18:21] Mahan Tavakoli: That design Sophie, it's a what you mentioned, it's like a Rubik's cube of who is going to be in when, how, what is advantageous to some versus others. There's a lot of data showing that primarily women and people of color would wanna take advantage of the remote days more so than others, but FaceTime with leaders who are in helps promotions if you are in every single day.

So there are lots of concerns, but part of what I hear from you is you really have to design it and think it through. You can't just say two days a week, three days a week, we're going back to the office and that's it.

[00:19:02] Sophie Wade: Now I'm very supportive of the fact that it's truly flexible because if people are saying, you have to be in the office Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and that's it. That's really not flexibility. And honestly, at the top level workplace flexibility is a mindset first, and then it's a policy. I love to quote Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, their workplace policy for 150,000 people is work appropriately.

But what that means is with a team with the manager or the leader of that particular team or group or division. How can they work together to make it work, if it were focused on results, how can we all work together to make sure that those particular teams under that divisional umbrella are all going to be able to work effectively.

And so those three or five or or seven people within a team, they can work together to work it out. So it's not just like I get to do this and you get to do whatever you want. It is how are we going to make sure that we are in the office at the days of the week that we can all overlap and really do the work that we need to.

And that goes to the how. So we have never worked out how we need to work. We were all in the office, we all piled in and, we could make mistakes and correct them, just, off the cuff . Even though we've had lots of remote offices and people traveling all the time, but we all modeled through, I would say, now we need to be purposeful as we're actually now creating a new way forward.

We need to think about how things are gonna get done. We've implemented new technology, which brought in lots of new processes. We need to maintain flexibility to pivoting, whether it's competitors who have integrated new technologies. Whatever that might be. There are going to be many different ways that we need to be thinking about contingency plans and ability to have flexibility and have that flexibility within our operations so that design needs to be even much more flexible than even a rubik's cube and designed that, and then hybrid is one piece of that. So the whole thing is yes, pretty complicated, but I do really seriously believe and see a future where we can be much more engaged and doing much more interesting work the most boring work has been automated away and we can be working, more closely together and in really interesting ways when we are thoughtful about how we're going to make it all work together. And there's lots of tools that we can use obviously, workflow management software and project management tools and things like that.

[00:21:37] Mahan Tavakoli: It provides a lot of opportunities, but all I know is that it's something that a lot of leaders didn't have to think about much before and is a stressor. Now there are so many different options and ways of doing things, but in reading your book, I was even reflecting on our traditional work days of nine to five, which contributes to all the commute going into the cities and out.

So we have a lot of structures that are outdated, but it both provides us a tremendous opportunity and is a stressor at the same time for a lot of leaders, because in addition to their regular leading of their teams and organizations, now they have to rethink that future of work and how most effectively to get people to work together.

[00:22:22] Sophie Wade: Completely agree. And let's be clear. The 40 hour work week was the fantastic idea of a Welsh Socialist called Robert Owen in 1817, who came up with this idea and it was eight hours of work, eight hours of labor, eight hours of leisure, eight hours of sleep. That was it. It was no more than that.

And it was that was one of the best marketing pitches that's, went around the world like wildfire. That's where we are. So there's no rhyme or reason to why we have to stick to that. That was an idea then. And now it's a different idea. Back in the 1960s, 67% of families in the US had one person working outside their home. That's not the case anymore. We have about the same number of families with kids where both parents are working, we need different flexibility. And yes, so you do have a lot of, working mothers who want more flexibility and we do have to really make sure that we're not allowing for discrimination, which has been there for a long time to undermine some of these new ways of working.

But let's be clear. The future of work, all this technology has been coming for a long time. Alvin Toffler wrote amazing books, the third wave and future shock in 1970 and 1980. He foresaw almost every single part of this. So it's not oh my God, it was brought in the pandemic. No. This was all happening anyway, and people were resisting it. So there are lots of companies and they are really going to be cleaning up for a while until other people, really embrace this and take it on and take on all these changes because the people who have been working on this and been adapting have been able to pivot reasonably easily during the pandemic, they engage their workforce, they have given them lots of flexibility. It's not that everybody went, oh my goodness. What a surprise.

Empathizing with leaders I get it. I understand. And the quicker they can, really embrace the fact that this is what's needed for their businesses going forward, we need more out of employees. We need them to engage and to step up and deal with much more complex problems and working closely together.

And that's why we need to take all this on. Otherwise their businesses will just simply not be competitive. And that's why I'm very clear, the human-centric understanding is key for competitive advantage. And I do see some big discrepancies in the next several years as people try and work this out.

[00:24:57] Mahan Tavakoli: That's why that empathy that you talk about Sophie is really important for us to enable the team members, people in the organization, to connect with each other because the technology makes it even more important for the human collaboration .

So if we can't get effective collaboration out of the team members, that's how we will be left behind. This is no longer people doing their individual roles. The intelligence of the team and organization comes from that collaboration, which relies on the empathy you talk about, which enables the connection between the individual team members.

[00:25:39] Sophie Wade: Absolutely. And it's cognitive diversity. You were talking about inclusion and that's inclusion across the board in terms of, every single dimension that we need to be inclusive and age as well. We need everybody to be working together to get the most out of where we are deal with these challenges. And the key thing that I would recommend to leaders who are very much challenged by where we are, is to be asking employees for the solutions. There are a lot of people who have particularly over the last two years, we have a lot of learnings that can be very helpful.

And think they'll have some great ideas, in terms of how to move forward in terms of new ideas that can be integrated and implemented at the company that they could listen to and benefit from.

[00:26:25] Mahan Tavakoli: I love that Sophie, one of your chapters is transitioning from commander to coach, and many leaders still think like commanders wanting to come up with the answers rather than asking the questions. Because in many instances, the answers are there.

[00:26:42] Sophie Wade: Trying now to come up with the answers and nobody expects anybody. You talk to have all the answers now, it will be way too hard, the more that you can get people engaged, you can have them part of the solution, and that really helps 'em in terms of their contributions and their engagement.

But, for the people at the top, wow, it's so hard now, there are so many things to be thinking about. I find it a very exciting time, but we have so much change going on, just, crowdsourcing if you want to use, obviously that seems like a dated term now, but crowdsourcing answers is a really good idea.

And then the ones that get through the ones that when you have some really rigorous debate, the ones that get through those might be the really good solutions.

[00:27:21] Mahan Tavakoli: It requires a different mindset and skillset, and I would love to hear some of your thoughts with respect to the skillset it takes. The mindset of letting go and really allowing the conversation to guide where the organization goes on any decision it's easier said than done. A lot of leaders wanna still hold onto that power, but it also takes a different skillset to be that coach rather than the commander. So what are the skill sets that will enable leaders to bring the best from their teams rather than having everything on their shoulders to try to come up with answers .

[00:28:03] Sophie Wade: There's a part of the book when I'm talking about facilitation. And I think, that's a very different role for leaders to have. Let's just say, in a brainstorming session to not be speaking first. Only speaking last and maybe not at all and just facilitating to make sure that everybody speaks, everybody feels included because that's part of their role as well.

And you can have situations where the ideas are gathered . Before the meeting and then shared anonymously so that the leader could put their idea in, but it gets equal, no nobody is kind going, oh we definitely want to say Sophie's idea is great cuz she's the leader. There are ways to make sure that the ideas get properly debated but the idea that the leader can be the facilitator and take on that type of role to help their teams do their best work and supporting them and understanding them.

So that's really where I look at leadership as well, in terms of empathy, is how can I help you? How can I understand you best so that I can see how you are doing so I can give you more responsibility, recognize when you've reached your capacity and you probably shouldn't go further than that.

We can test it, we can trial it. There's a quote from Lao Tsu, which is the leaders do the best job. When the people think they've done it themselves the leaders actually do themselves out of a job.

So thinking about it like that, when we also need, the centralized way of making decisions, it's just not fast enough anymore. There was a very interesting research that was done. It was called leaders 2020, which was done in 2016 and they were looking what they call digital winners.

They were looking at the companies that were succeeding and the ones that had decentralized and pushed decision making further down the organizations, those were the ones that were able to make decisions faster. Obviously not all decisions but taking the ones down and sharing them out so that the responsibility was both distributed.

But also you are giving more responsibility and helping one take work off your shoulders, but also helping people feel more engaged, feel much more part of the process because they have more accountability for the success of the company.

[00:30:15] Mahan Tavakoli: I encourage the listeners rather than thinking of why I can't in my team or my organization to ask how I can become a more facilitative leader showing greater empathy and transitioning from that commander to coach that you talk about.

You also talk about the fact that organizations need to be able to pivot more quickly. That's going to over time lead to smaller full-time workforces. Would love to know your thoughts with respect to the impact on organizations and with respect to us as individual professionals and leaders wanting to advance in our careers.

[00:31:00] Sophie Wade: The careers be much more self directed. They're already that way. We don't have the linear continuous compounding careers that we've had, that you could just get into a company, sit on that track. And nobody really had to pay attention to you because it was there. So now that's already not true.[1] 

 Some advancements are horizontal or diagonal, and you are learning more skills rather than changing jobs. And, we may not have jobs anymore. Some companies, it may very specifically about skills. And jobs are being crafted or somebody's position is being crafted based on their skills.

And not having these sort of job titles anymore. So I think there are a lot of different ways that that aspect of one's progress is changing. We are now potentially going to be having five careers each in our lifetimes, that was something that the financial times predicted in 2017, very interesting, and fun really, cuz you can take your skills and use 'em in different ways or, okay. That was my marketing career and I'm gonna do something else. I think that's fabulous when there's so many people who actually didn't start out in the career that they really enjoy and they find it out later more power to them, for that smaller core that companies are likely to have because they need to be more nimble and be able to pivot.

That works. As you see, more companies, there's a lot of research from SAP, about this extended total talent pool, which includes many more freelancers contractors, long term, who then, and that's been trending for a long time. The more people we have in those environments who have more stable clients.

So there are many companies whether, let's just say in advertising agencies, there's always had these long term relationships with a bunch of designers, but there are many more roles that have been in those agencies and other companies that are outside. The more that I, as a freelancer can have a number of stable of clients that, use me regularly, the more stable my income is.

And that's what we're looking for, we're looking for some security for my future so when we get there and there are other laws that have to change and new IRAs that need to be developed and all those kind of things. But I do see that as being ultimately where we're going.

And I don't think it's a bad thing that we have these companies, which have more dotted edges. And people come and go and they have different roles that changes over time. And then you have many people who are surrounding and in network as more of a fabric of companies that have hubs maybe, and that is much more of a stable environment I see over in the future.

[00:33:43] Mahan Tavakoli: I like that perspective. It requires that each individual takes on the responsibility of developing their own career path, not within the organization. 20 plus years ago, Tom Peters talked about how the way movies work, where a bunch of people come together for a project, complete a project that would be the future of work.

I love how you have built on that, that there is a small core that would be part of the organization with these edges of contractors and people associating with the organization. So for us as individuals and as leaders, we need to develop ourselves for those potential opportunities, not within an organization, but with respect to having many clients and many relationships to take advantage of.

[00:34:37] Sophie Wade: Yes. And I also think, this is one of the questions Jeff Wald, he was the founder of work mocked and this is one of his biggest questions, like who is responsible for helping train the individual, because I agree with him that it shouldn't just be me.

It's also the companies that I go and work for and talking to actually a guy who's a managing director of an agency, mobile agency in the UK and he was saying, I see it as people, when they come to my agency, they're on loan to me and I invest in them. We invest in them, but they're only with me for X number of years.

And then they'll go on somewhere else rather than if they leave, I'm never gonna speak to them again. And I don't wanna invest in somebody who I think is gonna leave, completely the reverse of that. So investing they grow and you know that they're gonna move on, but as they do move on, of course, then there are ambassadors for your company.

They might come back again when they have more experiences and more valuable. Jeff also says the government, what role does the government have and different organizations. So there are many different ways that we can do this. I think there was a lot more understanding.

They also have a friend who does impacting and investing in education. And he was talking about the fact that now we have companies like Amex they've taken off a college degree requirement and focus on skills. Partly because we have a situation in the US where college education needs to be updated and upgraded, as it does sometimes, with a lot of the high school education.

And they're also focusing on middle school students as being that's the moment to help them start understanding about the fact it's going to be up to them and becoming self directed and thinking about their career and where they want to go in live with all these new options.

Fascinating. There's a lot of change that's going on and I don't want to be blowing anybody's mind, but it is exciting. There's a lot going on and we're all part of this, whatever piece of the puzzle that we are involved with. And I think that really does put some responsibility on parents' shoulders.

To be as informed as possible about where we're going, because that is a role where there's a lot of disconnect sometimes about how much the world has changed and being supportive of how gen Z coming into the workforce and the support that they need in trying to navigate this very new world of careers as you said.

[00:36:57] Mahan Tavakoli: It is mind blowing, but it's also a wonderful opportunity as a mutual friend of ours. Gary Boles talks about the fact that these are not laws of nature. The systems around us are choices that we have made in building these systems.

[00:37:15] Sophie Wade: I wish I could really think that we knew that all this was gonna happen. Cause I don't think we did so we can give ourselves the break, but the point is very well taken.

[00:37:23] Mahan Tavakoli: His point is, that we can make different choices the way the government functions and whether it's, as you mentioned, IRAs or unemployment insurance. It's choices that have been made the way education system functions, it's choices that have been made, so we can make different choices as this future of work arrives.

So it is really exciting for all of us. It does require for us Sophie, in my view to learn at a much faster rate. That's why I also love your podcast, transforming work, read more, listen, more, whatever is your favorite way of consuming information. What resources in addition to your book and your podcast, do you typically find yourself recommending to leaders as they want to think about the future of work, whether it is for themselves or in leading their organizations forward?

[00:38:19] Sophie Wade: Having a lot of conversations for my book launch, I had three different panel discussions, very diverse, very different backgrounds and the people really enjoyed the conversation cause they were all coming from different perspectives and it's different for everybody and things resonate differently for different people.

And as looking at all the different people I've interviewed in my podcast, it can be about skills, it can be about relationships, it could be about operational tactics in terms of how to use synchronous versus asynchronous formats and tools. And so there was so much of me thinking about, working out what the priorities are for the next month or two or the next three months.

And this was saying, what are the things that I need to try and orient and a lot of it as you keep saying so well, It's about mindset first. So trying to work out and talking to people, saying this guy or, and this woman, they're doing well, why are they doing well? And what are the different aspects and what resonates with me and how can I, apply that in my company? Is that going to work? And finding also the people within one's organization, that seems things to be going well. There are some really, positive developments that are happening there seem to be working certain things out, asking questions like what's going on, what are the key things that are helping that work? Because the more that people can get enthusiastic about the things that are working, and then tweaking and refining, you have a different leader, you have a different group of people, it's gonna need to be tweaked and refined in a different way. So there's a lot of conversations and just learning from other people because we're all people and we're all working it out and, we're all operating different ways in different countries and different cultures. There we go full circle back to culture.

[00:39:58] Mahan Tavakoli: I love that Sophie, because it also built off of what you mentioned with respect to empathy, asking questions and listening is a big part of both developing greater empathy and that learning and growth, which is why I appreciate whether it is your book, empathy works, or your podcast transforming work, you share a lot of great content. Where can the audience find out more about you connect with you and your book Sophie?

[00:40:29] Sophie Wade: Thank you. My company is flex cell network.com, but I've done a lot of writing about all this stuff over the last 10 years is at sophiewade.com. And there, there are lots of articles. I need to get it updated, cuz , I haven't put it all there yet. We haven't got it updated recently, but there's a lot of stuff there that is helpful.

There are also some courses on LinkedIn that almost 500,000 people have taken. So there are some courses there I'm developing some additional courses as well, but there's a lot of reading. There are so many articles that you can read about this and different perspectives. And so there's content there. And just listening to the podcast and these different ideas. And then other podcasts, this is really about learning. This is a time of learning and developing and growing in so many different ways.

[00:41:15] Mahan Tavakoli: It is such a wonderful opportunity to tune into people with a lot more signal. There's also a lot of noise, Sophie, so appreciate about you is that you have a lot of signal. Whether it is with empathy, being the key competitive advantage for that future of work, or with respect to what we need to do to enable ourselves and our teams to be ready for the changes ahead. I really appreciate you joining me in this conversation Sophie Wade.

[00:41:48] Sophie Wade: Thank you so much for having these absolute delight talking with you. Thank you.


We need to become even more self-directed in our careers.