Career Conversations with Sonia Layne-Gartside
Sonia, Introvert or Extrovert
Introverts are people who tend to look inwards for energy and they are also the type of people who tend to think much before they talk.
Are Leaders Born or Cultivated
Leaders are cultivated. Though most people think that leaders are born it is not true. A person might have the talent and the charisma to be an effective leader but, all that has to be nurtured and trained to be the best version of that particular talent. All this is necessary to be effective.
Keys to being an effective leader
● Clarity - Be clear and provide clarity to the people you are leading. You need to be able to paint a clear picture to the people who you are leading to have effective feedback. Make sure you are not messy so that others can follow.
● Empathetic skills - Spend your time listening to the people you are leading. You need to understand what makes them motivated and what makes them tick. In this, you will be able to handle every individual differently. Leaders should be able to deal with all types of people.
● Ability to recognize great work - as a leader you should be able to recognize different individuals' work. You should be able to tell them and compliment their handy work. In most companies, people work hard and yet feel that their work goes unnoticed and unappreciated. As a leader, you should be able to handle such people and make them feel wanted.
Misconceptions in Training industries
● Training does not change people.
● Coaching people is a must In any industry.
● Both training and coaching lead to changed behavior.
Misconceptions in the consulting industry
● You do not only hire a consultant only when things get bad.
● People tend to think recommendations are the final product; it is important to know that you will still need to implement
what the consultant advised.
It is important to seize opportunities as they arise. Always be ready to use what you have at a given time. As a leader, you should learn to be overwhelmed and not show it. This is mainly important so that the people whom you are leading don't get demoralized.
Things to say no to.
● Meetings that are not worth your time.
● Underfunded projects.
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/sonialaynegartside/
Hello and welcome back to The Traveling Introvert and our particular section that is Career Conversations. Today I am talking with the wonderful Sonia, who's going to introduce herself.[:
Hi, everyone. I'm Sonia. I'm a lot of things. I'm a master trainer, I'm a strategist, I'm a DA consultant, I am an executive coach. Those sound like a lot, but they are related to one thing, which is people. I'm a cheerleader for people and ideas. Everything I do is related towards how do you get leaders to create environments where people can thrive.[:
All right, yeah. And I'm glad that you said all of those things because so many times we get pigeonholed into, “Oh, well, you just do this, and this is all you must do.” No, I'm a multifaceted human like all of us. So the stuff that I do. So the first question that I ask everybody is, are you an introvert?[:
No, I am not an introvert. I'm an extrovert, not a strong one, but I get energized by people and places and I talk to think. The more I talk and interact with people, the more clearer I become. So, I'm definitely an extrovert.[:
I see. So to you, what does introversion mean to you?[:
I think if I see someone and they have to think and then they speak, if they go inward to recharge, then I tend to think they're introverts.[:
Okay. All right. So you talked about the fact that you deal with leaders and making sure people can be the best they can be. Do you think leaders are born or cultivated?[:
Definitely cultivated. You could be born with some... You may have natural talent, but it has to be honed. And so leaders aren't born. That's a myth that they had for years where they're misinterpreted charisma for leadership. But if you want to be an effective transformational leader, that is a skill that you have to work on and you have to build.[:
What would you say are the three key skills that you need to build to be an effective leader?[:
Well, you have to be clear. You have to provide clarity when you're leading people. So, you have to have a vision and understand how to paint a picture for people to see where they're going because that's primarily what a leader does. A leader says, ‘We're going here’, ‘Let me tell you what it looks like’, ‘Let me tell you where it is’. Because in that messy journey towards the vision, people lose clarity, people lose belief. And if the leader is unable to direct and say, ‘Here's where we're going’, and inspire, and cajole, and influence people to that, then you're failing as a leader. So that's the first one, be able to be clear and to paint pictures so people can see where they're going. Because sometimes when you're walking, you're trying to accomplish something, it can get foggy. I like to call it the messy middle where you don't know if you're going forward, you're going back where you don't know where you are. And a leader gives you clarity and shows the spotlight so that you could come out of that darkness. The second thing a leader needs is those empathetic skills because in today's world, you have to know and understand people in order to figure out what environment brings out their productivity, what environment brings out their ability to thrive. So you have to be able to communicate. You have to be able to spend time listening so that you can understand people. And then I think the third skill that leaders need that are critical is the ability to recognize great work and tell the person what they have been doing well so that people coming to work with you understand what is my role in creating this success and that it is being recognized. Too many people in organizations don't feel seen, they don't feel heard, they don't feel valued. And if you have a leader that is unable to do that, then they're not going to be successful.[:
All right, thank you for that. So, in all the roles and the things that you do, from DEI to strategy and leadership and everything else, what are some common misconceptions?[:
Well, I'm in the training and consulting industry. And so, if I would say from the training industry, I think that people- the misconception is that training changes behavior. Changing on its own does not change behavior. People always use training as a solution. Oh, you're problematic. Go into training. Now, also, another misconception is that you don't have to coach people. I often say training plus coaching leads to changed behavior. So that's usually a misconception. In addition to the answer is not always training. Sometimes people come to me and tell me, Oh, they want training. I'm like, Why? They don't need training. This is a systemic issue. This is not a training issue. The second industry I'm in is consulting. I think the first misconception is that when I come in and give you recommendations, that's it. People act like that's it. Okay, we know what to do. Well, you still have to go there and do it. I can't do it for you. I can help. I can help build capacity, but the recommendation means nothing until you implement it. Organizational leaders have to help and save themselves. Yeah. Sometimes I think we've heard a consultant. Oh, and another misconception is that you only hire me when things are critically bad. I love leaders who recognize we need you because we want to maintain this winning that we are on. So yes, that's another misconception that I wish people would get away with.[:
It's always the last minute, we'll call you in and then you have to fix all the burning fires that we have, and then we're going to be really upset when you don't do it.[:
Yes. I come in to build capacity for you to help yourself, and I can do it for you. But then when I leave, you have exactly... So yeah, that's it.[:
Okay. So you've built this great career that you have. And speaking of career, what is the first job you ever did?[:
The first job I ever did, right out of university, I was hired by my organizational development professor. And I was in her class and then she said, “Well, when you graduate, I will give you a job”. And then my first job was spent going around the Caribbean. I'm originally from the Caribbean, born, nurtured, and educated in the lovely island of Barbados. Everyone should come down. And then my first job was to go around and do training needs analysis for leaders in the Caribbean. It was a project funded and supported by the United States Agency for International Development. And so on. My first two years was just walking around talking to leaders asking, ‘What do you need to become a better leader?’[:
That was an awesome first job.[:
It was a great job. It allowed me to sit with very many experts and really sit and assist them. I got to learn a lot. I worked a lot with Dr. Travis Farrell, who was a brilliant strategist and worked with governments around the world to develop strategic plans. I will sit with him, I would take notes for him. So, you learned a lot. He was the first person that told me and I'm like, I think I came out, it was like 20, 21, and he's the first person that said to me, Sonia, a man will know 20% of what is needed, and he would raise his hand as if he knew 100. A woman will know 80% of what is needed and will sit there until she's sure that she has 100. He told me that when I was 22, and I would never forget that. So that was my first job allowed me to just sit with lots of experts and soaking a whole lot of knowledge on how to become better leaders, how to become better strategists, how to handle change.[:
Wow. Very young for that a position.[:
It was. I think my first leader. I think she had... The way she would teach you to swim is she would take you and toss you into the sea.[:
I actually don't really think that was young for you to have that position. I'm just curious about your thoughts around it.[:
And so you learn. And you and I have talked about this before because you learn to be overwhelmed without showing it. You learned a lot, which was good because we spent a whole lot of my time at... And I'm going to say the colleagues that I work with, one of my best friends that I met at university, we spent a lot of time saying, we need a challenge, because that's how we came into the world of work. You had a big challenge and you dealt with it and you dealt with it to more incompetence. But when you're surrounded by lots of people like I was who were experts. They were excellent teachers.[:
Not always the case.[:
No. It's only now I'm looking back that I realized how lucky I was. I had surrounded by... I mean, we had toxic people, of course, but you looked out by the people who were very knowledgeable, very expedient, and were very much into coaching and developing you. My first boss, my first leader, that was her, a developer, a learner. Just when you think, Oh, I'm about to drum, she would step in and help you. So you never drummed, right? Because she was there to ensure. So she stretched you without breaking you.[:
So that's one connection that you've made that changed your life. Can you talk to me about another connection or human that you are friends with or have met that changed your life and put you on a different course?[:
On a different course. I have a best friend. I met her. She was my brother's girlfriend. And I thought, good people. So I kept her. When he's cheating on her and she broke up with him, and he cheated on her with one of her good friends, and she taught me the wonderful lesson that a man was never getting away of a strong female friendship.[:
Very earlier because we three are still friends now. And so she changed my life and made me recognize, Wow, women coming together is powerful and you really shouldn't let men break that up. So that's another connection that I think really changed my life and changed my outlook. The other one, I have a really great. This is over 30 years ago that I met them. I was at university first year. I was in a very good student. I didn't attend class and we had exams and I walked into the library, looked around and saw someone sitting at a table and thought, ‘She looks competent’. I said, “Can I borrow your accounting notes?” I've never spoken to her before. She said, “Yes.” And I passed that class and we're still friends to this day. And that was a connection. Also, something that you teach, that you look around and you look for people who look competent, who look intelligent, who comes across as highly skilled, and you connect with them. They teach you a lot.[:
What does looking competent look like to you?[:
I don't know. I got a lot of my gut feeling, but she was sitting there at the table with notes looking very organized. And I thought, “She looks like somebody who attended all the classes.” And I was right. And you always ask because somebody else might have thought, “Well, did you attend classes?” But she was willing. So that's it. The kindness of being willing to lend a stranger that you don't know who's never done anything your notes. And so, it's looking competent, looking intelligent and being kind.[:
I'd fail on one of those. There's no way you would have got my notes. Solid note.[:
She was a great note taker.[:
Okay. So speaking of saying no, what is one thing that you say no to?[:
I say no to meetings that aren't a good use of my time. I say no to projects that don't have the budget to pay me what it will take to deliver quality work.[:
How do you know when a meeting is not worth your time?[:
Well, one of the things that I normally do if I'm meeting with someone or meeting with people, at the end of it, I ask that question, ‘Was this a good use of my time?’ , ‘Did I feel like it was meaningful and valuable?’. And if I answer no, then I say it will never again. Or what I usually would clarify is what's the agenda? So, I really attend these things that don't have agendas because that's how I determine whether I should be there or not. And even if they don't have a written agenda, I would ask the person who was in there, “Well, what are we going to discuss? What are we going to do?” And if I don't feel like it's going to be a help value for both of us, I will say, “Well, I can send you that information. I don't need to be there.”[:
So question for you, side note, if someone messaged you on LinkedIn and they want to connect and they're like, I'd love to get together and talk a little bit more about what you do, how do you respond?[:
Well, I don't get those. People usually have a specific thing they want from me. Either I would love to pick your brain on this issue I'm dealing with, or I would love to get together to talk more about a particular issue. I shouldn't say I don't get those. I don't respond to those or I will say no.[:
Because then it's not a good use of my time. When we're meeting, it needs to be a win-win scenario. In other words, you get something and I get something. And if only one of us is getting something and it's the same thing for me, if I'm going to propose a meeting with some person, then the question I have to ask is what would make this a good use of their time? I attempt to ensure that we have that win-win. So for meetings where there is no win-win, I don't attend. Now, normally you don't have to give me. Some people will ask, I want a specific issue, can I pick your brain? I will look at the person and determine, “Well, what can I get out of this? I know what they want, but what can they help me with?” It may be, Hey, this person is having an experience that is clearly causing harm. In a 15-minute conversation, because my time, my meetings are 15 minutes or 30 minutes, in a 15-minute conversation that I can help. I can also understand more of the environment in which I work in. This is a unique situation and I can benefit from understanding it a little bit more and I can also give help. That's how I work through that situation.[:
Awesome. Thank you. That's really valuable. I'm in line with my thoughts about that whole thing, too. And final question for you before we let you go. Is a hot dog a sandwich?[:
No, I don't think so.[:
I think a sandwich consists of two separate pieces of bread.[:
So, what about Subway?[:
Well, they separate the makeup that they have. That's not a sandwich, that's a sub.[:
Okay. And hoogies and depending on which part of the country you're in. Okay, that's interesting. So, it has to be two separate pieces of bread to make a sandwich?[:
Yes. I've never been asked that question before.[:
Oh, I know. I keep that one. Try asking that question. Would you ever have a class with engineers?
It goes sideways real fast.[:
Oh, I can imagine. I train a lot of engineers how specific they get. And they will be. But yeah. So off the top of my head, I would say that a sandwich requires two separate pieces of bread, but a sandwich loaf, something that is sliced. And so if it doesn't have two separate pieces of bread that you're combining, then it's not a sandwich.[:
Okay. All right. That is your final thought on that. Thank you so much. Can you let my audience know where they can find you should they wish to find out more about the wonderful work that you do?[:
Sure. They can connect with me on my website, SoniaGartside.com. You can go read my blog posts. They can connect with me on LinkedIn, Sonia Lynn Gartside, or they can connect with me on Instagram, which is @sonigartside.[:
Awesome. All those links will be added to the show notes along with the transcription. Thank you so much for giving me some of your time today.[:
Cool. Yeah, thank you.