Diversity & inclusion41 min read

How Inclusive is Your Network?

An Exclusive Interview with Dr. Zella King, Co-Founder of Personal Boardroom

As people who care about building inclusive cultures at work and in the community, we all know how important cognitive diversity is. But how deliberate are you in building diverse perspectives into your own personal network?

In this interview, we spoke with Dr. Zella King, Co-Founder of Personal Boardroom, a Senior Associate at Care City and an Executive Fellow at Henley Business School, where she spoke about the 12 types of diverse perspective you need in your network, how women network differently to men and why we’re failing the older generation.

Her research on the science of social networks focuses on the critical people you need in your own personal boardroom to help you succeed.

In this interview, you’ll discover:

  • Difference between how you see your network versus networking
  • Misconceptions about network building
  • The role that culture, inclusion, and diversity play in building really strong professional networks
  • Why you should use a Personal Boardroom tool

Listen in above (cc available), or read below the transcript of our interview with Dr. Zella. You can also listen on Spotify, iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts.

 

FIONA:  Our guest today is that Zella King, who’s the co-founder of Personal Boardroom, an online tool that helps you understand and develop your professional network. It’s been used by many leading companies to supercharge the progression of leaders and emerging leaders into senior roles, often for programs targeting underrepresented talent. Personal Boardroom really changes the way people think about their networks and helps them identify the people who are helping them succeed as well as gaps in their close network they need to fill. Zella is also passionate about the future care needs of a growing aging society. As a senior associate at Care City, she’s helping find innovative tech solutions to make life better for older people in East London and Zella is also an executive fellow at Henley Business School and has given a brilliant TEDx talk about the science of social networks which is well worth watching. Welcome Zella. It’s great to have you here with us.

ZELLA:  Thank You Fiona. Thank you for having me on.

FIONA: So first can you give us a quick overview of the work you’ve been doing lately?

ZELLA: Sure. So with Personal Boardroom which we’ll hear more about and with my co-founder Amanda Scott, we’ve been working quite closely with Tesco on a program for developing their women and the network element we provide for them and it’s very exciting because they are keen to use our online platform and they’re keen to roll out the program globally. So that’s really fun project. You will gather so I think as we’ll go through this conversation, I do a whole bunch of very different things. Aside working as you said at Care City, which is an innovation unit for healthy aging in East London and for them I’m thinking about adult social care and the social care workforce, however, the people who do that amazing work could be better rewarded and also trained to have more enhanced skills but I’ve had a fun time in July thinking about a mad blogpost idea which is 80 things to fix before I’m 80.

FIONA: I love that.

ZELLA: By the time I get to 80, which is still a few years away. There are a whole bunch of things that I would like the UK to have fixed for the health and the care and the well-being of older people.

FIONA: That’s a brilliant idea. I love how expansively you think [laughs]

ZELLA:  We’ll I guess that’s the kind of thing I think will come back to a jack-of-all-trades but one of the advantages of that is that you’re drawing insights from a whole range of different places. So I think that can be very productive and interesting.

FIONA:  Absolutely. So today I’ll be talking to Zella about her experiences with networks, inclusion, care for older people, I’m sure many other things as well and I’m particularly excited to speak with her on the show because I’ve been friends with Zella for a number of years and I’m a huge personal fan of Personal Boardroom. I totally believe in it. I think thinking about your networks critically is just such an incredible exercise to do and I’ve seen the power of that for myself and others. So welcome and first up I really want to ask you something which we ask all of our guests on Inclusion Works. Can you tell us what personal experiences made you interested in inclusion and diversity and also led onto your work in the Personal Boardroom?

ZELLA: So I think I have a confession to make, which is that when I began my academic career, did a PhD about career self-management and I was interested in the strategies people used to manage their careers and I really did not want to look at it from a gender perspective. So I managed to get 15 years of being an academic without really ever delving into the question of whether women and men have different networks or different network strategies and it was only really when I started doing something less academic and more practical with my colleague Amanda that I thought what I really should look into this literature a bit more and understand whether there are other differences between men and women in their network outcomes. So I’m kind of maybe I’ve come a bit late to the area but since I did start looking into it, of course, there is a whole lot of evidence that for various reasons

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So yes, we can talk about more about those.

FIONA: Yes I’d love to hear a little bit more about the research you did as part of that PhD and your work since actually and what that’s kind of taught you about professional networks and also the implications for women and other underrepresented groups in business as well.

ZELLA: I think this really kicked off when I met Amanda about six or seven years ago. So I’d been in my ivory tower academic world thinking about careers and networks and Amanda has worked a lot with people in outplacement situations and so she’s seen the consequences of not having built up a good network. So when we came together we started asking people who helped you succeed in your job and your career and we asked them to give us names and we also asked them to set to look through a bunch of different roles that we thought might be important people to play in your network for example customer voice, the expert, the sponsor, the unlocker, the nerve- giver. So we ask them which of the people they’ve identified as important for their career played each of these roles and we also wanted to know where are these people. Is these people directly in your team? Are these people in your organization but outside your business unit? Are they similar to you in career background? Are they similar to you in age and so on.  So we were able to build up a picture of who people surround themselves with. We did that for about thousand people and were able to draw some comparisons with men and women and what we found was that women tended to say that they looked for success more likely to be internal people, so inside the organization, inside their business unit. So they were so they were less likely to have a customer voice outside the organization for example or spiral outside the organization or a navigator outside organization. And men, they were also less likely to have some who could exert influence on their behalf outside their business unit and we felt what we knew from the academic work and the evidence was that in in a big complex organization where it’s important to make yourself visible to see the people. You need those contacts outside your team or outside your business unit to be able to progress in your career and get things done. So that was really interesting and from that we have now developed programs that we work with groups of women sometimes. We also work with mixed groups and we help people think about where their gaps are.

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FIONA: It’s such a concrete idea too. It’s like we all have a personal boardroom right, and actually I’d love for you to chat a little bit about kind of the difference between how you see your network versus networking. I think sometimes when we hear the word network, we think oh it’s going to be awkward; you know situations where you are were going and getting canapes and awkwardly standing around the sort of drinks table and trying to make small talk with people you really would rather not be spending your Thursday night with or whatever.

ZELLA: Exactly. Yes, and people think of exactly that, that kind of mingling with strangers as networking and also but the whole accumulating contacts on LinkedIn is networking. We like to make a distinction between that and your who is in your network because if you just think about your network in terms of networking, you’re going to neglect the core people at the heart of your network who can really help you succeed. Those people and most likely you already know them and most likely you have natural reasons for being in contact with them because you’re in the same meetings. You’re working on the same kind of work. You’re in the same industry, whatever. So you know these people already, but actually thinking about purposefully who can help me succeed and what conversations do I need to have with those people I already know in order to either get something done or start to develop in a new direction or rest my career. Those things those are investments in your network and that’s why we like the idea of a personal boardroom, as you say everyone has one. We have people that we turn to often they can be people from the past and relationships don’t always remain current because you move on, people move on. So think about now, who your surrounding yourself with to succeed. Amanda and I are two white women and most of our work in the kind of diversity inclusion area has been with women and women’s groups. So we have not really done much with other underrepresented groups just a few things. We’ve done bit of work to support the people who run the different diversity and employee resource networks, obviously those guys are doing it, something amazing often you know side-project running their network alongside their main job. So we run sessions to support them, but we have not so much worked with minorities of other types and I think I’m a huge fan of Herminia Ibarra at London Business School who has done decades of research on networks and her work. She has dealt into some of the same issues I think for example I think minorities as for gender minorities. She finds that I think she’s a lovely distinction which is if you were in a minority group you have another degree of difference where you know people at the top or people senior to you or the majority of people,  so you may have to influence someone who is senior or in another work group. If you’ve also not got the same sort of, if you’ve got some minority aspect which means that you’re different from them, that’s just another layer of difference that you have to navigate and can make it harder to forms of natural spontaneous easy relationships. I think that’s helpful to acknowledge but also not to be held back by because in aware of of those differences does not mean that the conversations cannot flow just as easily especially if you’re clear about what you want from the conversation and you have some purpose and that’s where the Personal Boardroom framework with the idea of different roles that people can play is very helpful.

FIONA: That’s really interesting, I’ll look that up. So I’m curious just for my own knowledge and also for our listeners benefit. What are some of the most common mistakes you see people make with their networks or misconceptions about network building?

ZELLA:  So what I think you really put your finger on perfectly which is thinking about your network while confusing it with networking and just thinking that investing your network is only about going to outside work events. Whereas really your network is part of your day job and that’s how you get things done. So seeing it is really part of the day-to-day is important. I think another mistake that people often make is they feel the network building is a little bit sleazy but strategic about building relationships is somehow false, may be self-serving, maybe you don’t feel authentic and therefore that the best relationships should be spontaneous and ones that are formed naturally and easily, but of course, as we’ve alluded to, if you only invest in relationships where if they are spontaneous, you’re most likely to end up with people who are like you and you’re not going to benefit from the diversity of knowing and being able to draw on help from a much wider range of people. I think another misconception is that this is all really about people who are close to you. There’s a huge amount of value in people who sometimes referred to as weak ties, so they may not notice it was you. They may not move in the same social worlds as you, but actually got enormously valuable insights and so this isn’t just about building a personal boardroom of really close buddies. It’s also about thinking how you can bring in some weaker more diverse, more distant people into your kind of frame of reference.

FIONA: I love that, kind of insight that actually if you just sort of seek out people who you have a real spontaneous connection with, it’s likely that your network will be pretty monolithic and be people who look like you naturally, because of our affinity bias. We get on well with people who remind us of ourselves, right? [laughs]

ZELLA: Exactly. Yes.

FIONA: Brilliant. So in your view what role does culture and inclusion and diversity have to play in building really strong professional networks. I know you just alluded to a bit of that, but could you speak to it a bit more?

ZELLA: Yes, so I like to think about what I call cognitive diversity. All the other types are important that the types of diversity that relate to age, gender, sexuality, disability. Those are also important elements of diversity. I think it could be full in a room full of people who are really really different from you in all of those respects, but if you’ve all been to the same university and done the same degree, you’re all Oxford economists for example. There will be a certain commonality bias in the way that you all think about the world and cognitive diversity is another way of introducing more buried ideas, more insights, more challenge, more ability to see the world another way and for me I think there’s sort of real strong reinforcement to this was in the sort of run-up to the Brexit referendum in 2016 where there was a real tendency I think for people to seek out the same views, talking to the same types of people who all shared the same kind of view of that particular issue and certainly for me I was totally taken aback by the result because as a [Unintelligible] I had not given enough attention to voices in my own network or people who just thought differently than I did about that particular issue. And for me at a time that was very much of a recognition that is but even as a self-espouse expert in networks, that was actually a failure of my network because I haven’t really listened out for views, opinions, informed judgment and totally in informed judgment that would have given me an idea of how would people think about the issue.

FIONA: It’s so interesting how you can layer these kinds of issues of inclusion and diversity onto like kind of current events and political events and world events like this. As an American who’s sort of well sort of a Londoner but and a person of the world but as an American you see the exact same thing, right and it’s kind of carving out of the middle and things becoming increasingly partisan you know and there’s a huge gulf between the left and the right, between the democrats and republicans and you see it’s just so insular, right. If you’re a Democrat you would never ever watch Fox News and so it’s like I feel such a parallel between the election of Trump and Brexit, of course, everyone’s made this kind of comparison because just feels as though perhaps the sort of the left-wing intelligentsia just didn’t listen right, didn’t hear, has not been hearing the other side. Has not been hearing the critique. Has not really taken seriously a whole raft of voters and I feel like it’s so similar to the Brexit situation.

ZELLA: Right. Yes, and in fact the Guardian ran an article back in 2017 where they looked at the          Oxford degree which is called PPE philosophy politics and economics which an absolutely stunning number of senior politicians and senior people in the media have all done and it trains them to think in a particular way. It’s even referred to as the kind of essay crisis degree because you cover huge part of the ground quite quickly which, gives you a sense you’ve got a big knowledge but you’ve got quite a superficial knowledge and so there is a lack of combative diversity was a lack of combative diversity within the British political media establishment in the run-up to the referendum, which I think was one of the reasons why there was such a surprise for the Cameron government when the results we’re announced because I just think that people haven’t paid attention as you said. The rest of the country didn’t think like they did.

FIONA: I guess that’s the feeling of also not being really representative of your constituency right.

ZELLA: Also. Yes.

FIONA: I imagine we could talk all day politics but [laughs] I’ll bring it back to networks, although I absolutely love chatting with you about all this stuff. So I was wondering if you could potentially share with us some practical things we should all be doing to build our network. So it could be small everyday actions or bigger picture things?

ZELLA: Yes, so one sort of bigger picture thing that anyone listening to podcast is welcome to do is to use our free online platform that will help them think about their personal boardroom. The reason that’s a valuable thing to do is because it gives you the opportunity to reflect on who you are surrounding yourself with and who you’re relying on to succeed in your job, in your career and reflect on the different roles that people are playing and whether you’re drawing on enough people from outside your own sort of company, you’re own functional work group within your company. I think that’s something that you can do as a one-off which will perhaps reset your thinking about your network and how it might need to change and it might identify some gaps in your network that you can work on. So that’s a kind of bigger thing, but hopefully would lead them to some actions or some purposeful conversations. I think it more generally though in thinking about how to have a great network, I’m a great fan of curiosity. I always think having the extra question at the end of the conversation that might reveal something different or interesting that hasn’t already been said or going to talk to someone and it builds on what we were just saying, going to talk to someone who is doing something different. Find out why they’re doing it. And when you’re thinking about senior people in your organization or people that you might want to influence, curiosity is really helpful for just saying just one extra question about, you know what are you worrying about at the moment? Or why you’ve always done this this way? So I really like those kind of questions and one of the reasons why they work is because you may end up taking a conversation to a different place and learning something new about the person, but the other good aspect of this is you also learn how you might be able to help them and then network building is kind of reciprocal and we feel most comfortable when the relationship is two-way. So if you found out that someone’s interested in something and you’ve got a perspective or later on you come across something which is useful to them, then you’ve got a way to get back to them and sort of nourish that relationship. So I would say curiosity conversations or even to tagging one curious question onto the end of a meeting or a corridor chat with someone.

FIONA: I love that. I love the power of a really great big question as well like going back to my complaint about how networking events are typically not the place you want to be on a Thursday night. I mean I recently just I got so tired of being at these breakfasts and that you know receptions and so forth and feeling like I just giving the surface with people that I just go straight for it actually instead of tacking on one at the end. I sort of like okay yes, “What’s your name? What do you do?”  And what is your biggest challenge right now? You know and that’s like my back of the pocket question, but it is amazing how much you get out of people, so much more quickly when you kind of just dive straight into the deep end and maybe I have a free pass here in the UK being American and people think I’ll be quite you know brash and hard-charging and so forth of it. It’s worked pretty well for me so far.

ZELLA: No I think that’s brilliant. I was with some friends at the weekend and they live and work in an inner-city area in the centre of Manchester and they he’s a vicar and she’s a youth worker and they’ve lived in that area for a long time and I asked the question what’s your biggest challenge in on the estate? What are you most worried about in your state and I was expecting them to say extremism or night crime or drugs and we actually got into a really interesting conversation about their local schools and the education system and how it was failing, the kids on their estate and I was just amazed that that was what that’s that that was the thing that came out and we as you say you just you’ll get someone on the thing that they is currently top of mind and it could just lead somewhere really interesting.

FIONA: Yes. Absolutely and I love the idea to of really unlocking opportunities to help other people and it’s you know it’s like Adam Grants kind of givers book.

ZELLA: Oh yes. Give and Take.

FIONA: You never know how you can help someone even with just a simple e-introduction. Introducing someone over email to someone else and it’s always really gratifying to see that you can help.

ZELLA: Right. Yes, and his mindset about looking for everyday small favors I think is really great and something to aspire to.

FIONA: Absolutely. So I want to change gears just a little bit because I know you’ve recently become really passionate about improving the quality of care for older people. So what led you into this work and also what do you see is the greatest shortcomings of our current care model for an aging population?

ZELLA:  So I guess what led me into this is the reality for all of us which is that we have a work life but then also you know life goes on around our work. We have families, we have friends and stuff goes on and, in my case, it was also in 2016. So it’s a kind of bit of a seismic year for me. My mom became ill and died in a relatively short space of time and I had a new world opened up for me in terms of thinking about partly I was thinking about my own mortality recognizing that one day I too—I’m going to quit dessert, but also seeing the care that she received, I just thought I had no idea there were so many people out there doing this incredibly human and kind personal care for people who are vulnerable, frail and sick. And these people are often working unpredictable situations with vulnerable people, anxious family members and they’re paid about as much as they would get if they worked in ASDA and some of them many of them do this job with incredible kindness and humanity. I just had never encountered this world before and it really struck me. I mean I guess that sort of leading on from that. Losing a parent is a big event anyway and it caused me to think about the meaningfulness of my work and you know my life and the next decades of my life and so I’ve sort of developed the second strand of my career as you said thinking about how we look after an aging population and when you’re asking about some of the greatest shortcomings. I think right now in the UK, adult social care which is the care of the personal needs of people who need help with eating, cooking, dressing, looking after themselves, daily living activities of daily living. That system is absolutely failing, the people who rely on it. There are too many people who don’t get that help who need it. The people who provide that help are desperately struggling because of government austerity over back to 2010 and that’s been a huge pressure on both the families of people being cared for and the carers themselves, actually this just right at the moment there’s a program on radio for a sort of drama, which is depicting some of these pressures on a carer, who’s having to decide whether to stay with one person she’s looking after who’s in need or go to another one, what if she’s late, this second person will miss some medication and it just really brings alive how difficult this work is. So I think what the government has to show leadership on this issue and it probably has to be cross party in order to change something which unfortunately looks very far off just right now. So that’s one of the things on my list of 80 things I’d like to fix before I’m 80 because if in a current situation where I need that kind of care. I want to be sure that there is a vibrant marketplace of organisations that can supply that to me and then people who can’t afford it for themselves are being supported you know by us as a society.

FIONA:  Actually could you tell us more about your 80 before 80, because actually it struck me that when you’re talking about how you know the experience of your mom dying, which I’m so sorry to hear, making you realize your own mortality. I imagine that probably had something to do with dreaming up this list, right?

ZELLA: Yes, totally. I think it did because you when you lose a loved one you do put yourself in their shoes and my mom was it happens was absolutely amazing. She was incredibly brave and dignified through the whole thing, but you sort of put yourself in their shoes and think how would it be for me in that situation and so I’ve kind of almost travelled forward in a time machine and thinking well if I was 80 now, there are a lot of things that aren’t right about how we support our older you know the older members of our population and by the time I’m 80 there will be more of us and there’ll be more people with complex multiple conditions. So yes, we need to start thinking now about how we prepare ourselves as individuals and as a nation and this applies also to any nation which is aging. I mean the next generation coming along behind us are going to need to work for longer in order to save enough money for their own longer lives [Unintelligible] to support us in the way that has always been possible in the past because of demographics and the ratio of people who are older versus of working age. So that’s what the list of 80 is thinking about. Very conscious, I’m no expert in any of these areas, but it covers I think about finance and money think about care work, thinking about how health care system but also you know think about how we work and older people working for longer and how we live. How devices and apps and gadgets can help us stay healthy.

FIONA: And I know you’ve spoken a bit about kind of the basic care needs for older people and I know that exclusion and isolation and loneliness are also you know very serious concerns, probably a bit more on the mental side rather than you know physical basic care needs, but I remember a statistic that something like 1.9 million older people in the UK often feel ignored or invisible. That’s often, right? And that’s something like I just did quick maths on that, something like 15% of the population that’s over the age of 65 and besides that being really terrible and really sad to hear this also does have an impact on health outcomes, right? And so I know this is a big question, but I know you’re super passionate about trying to find innovative tech solutions for these hairy problems. Do you have any ideas of how we can use tech to help?

ZELLA: Thank you for the question. I have one or two ideas, just to reinforce what you’ve said about the other terrifying mists of this, there’s been evidence that loneliness and especially sort of extreme feelings of loneliness has as much of a detrimental effect on health as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. I mean it is really bad for health to feel chronically lonely, which is just so sad and so sad. So I think you know I’m very sort of conscious of the opportunities that technology offers. We’ve been able to connect an amazing way through social networks as they’ve evolved. I mean you know LinkedIn, particularly in Facebook have allowed people to find to maintain and to create connections in a way that we just couldn’t have imagined 20 years ago. Why could that not be possible for people who live alone, who may be limited by mobility problems or other reasons which means that they’re cut off from contact with other human beings. Why can’t we not solve that with technology. So I think it’s a combination of really good communication sort of channels that allow someone on their own to connect someone else, who might be on their own around common interests or around just having a chat or shared memories. So you can imagine for example two people finding each other because they both knew the same third person, who may now no longer be with us, but they’ve got memories in common and they could talk about that person. So it just seems so solvable that you have one lonely person at one place and another lonely person at another place. Tech must be able to fix that. We’ve got really good bandwidth now. I think there are some challenges because often you know older unhealthy people have dexterity problems. They have sensory problems. They may have cognitive problems and so these solutions have to work for people who aren’t really slick on gadgets, but you know I think of it as a kind of you know they used to be lonely hearts in the newspaper. This is the kind of lonely mind equivalent just let’s get people together who’s got something in common to have a chat, use technology to do it. This is already helping people find other people with this end condition for example. So health unlocked is one of the one of think it’s the third biggest health app in the UK and that allows people to perform duties around a particular condition or-

FIONA: Support network.

ZELLA: Yes. That is what I was exactly, so we’re starting. I think that’s another thing and then there what lot more kind of matchmaking type solutions as well. So trying to match up you know a grandmother in one place with grandchild in that place you happens to belong to a grandmother you know that I think they’re those kind of ideas.

FIONA: As you say, it’s just amazing that there isn’t already a solution like this in place and absolutely you can see the need for it especially with those terrifying statistics.

ZELLA: Yes, we are a generating at a very comfortable technology. So I feel a lot will have changed by the time we get there because we won’t accept gadgets and devices that don’t work for us. Why do it at 80 when we can do it now. So I feel really confident this will get sold.

FIONA: Absolutely. So just to wrap up. I have a couple more questions for you more on the inclusion side. What is one unpopular opinion that you have about diversity and inclusion?

ZELLA: That’s a good question. I don’t know if it’s an opinion, it’s something that I struggle with Amanda my co-founder. We get invited into organizations to help with diversity and inclusion initiatives and there’s always a dilemma between whether you kind of get all the women in a room and talk to them about their networks or whether you have an event that brings men and women together. And there’s really two ways of rationalizing this. One is the minority groups need all the help they can get. We’ll give them special treatment. We’ll organize a program for them and part of that program obviously we’ll get talking them about having network with colleagues but then especially on the subject of networks, it seems wrong to have just the one type in a room and have the men who are often populating all the senior roles not in the room. So we kind of step around this one if an organization wants us to come in, obviously we’ll do it with groups of minorities but I think the ideal would actually be that we could say you bring the men in as well and we’re going to work on this together and actually we’re going to find group solution to the problem of women having weaker networks than the men in your organization.

FIONA: That’s so interesting, because I’ve definitely had this debate before with people and I don’t think there is like a perfect right answer to it right, because I mean I think you do need quite targeted initiatives for underrepresented groups and that’s the reality but equally I agree with you that and when you’re talking about networks, it’s really valuable to have people in the room who have deep networks, who have power, who have access to you know funding and all those great things which hopefully is not just man but is probably in our world today unfortunately is probably disproportionately male. And I just I’ve been round the houses on this one myself. So I kind of feel you on that.

ZELLA: Yes, and I guess the answer is some combination of both things but especially when think about networks. I suppose that cognitive biases to type programs and trying to get this a bit getting the men aware of their how their own behavior might reinforce the problem, as well getting women aware of how their behavior reinforces problem too.

FIONA: I did hear I heard one good idea from a D&I leader I was speaking to in the US recently. She was talking about I think it was a context was a conference she was going to and she said, she loved it because they said on the invitation, so come and bring a sister of a different colour [laughs] and actually that could work for a mixed group to tell women and men okay bring a woman who looks different than you, you know. You might end up kind of disproportionately female but also be able to have a bit more of a mix and more diverse.

ZELLA: Right. Also I did one alumni event for Henley Business School where the invitation went out to bring a man. So it was to bring someone the other genders, so I like that. I liked that suggestion.

FIONA: And so finally what is one simple thing anyone could do this week to build inclusion in their workplace?

ZELLA: I guess I’d come back to my earliest comment about cognitive diversity, so building that in really means in my mind listening to someone who comes from a different place, it might be because of their demographics because their different age group or different gender etcetera, but it could also be because of the educational training they’ve had or the just you know some reasons totally different perspective. So seeking out that additional opinion on something, you may have heard lots of people reinforce your view, but trying to find the voice to include the voice in your thinking, which brings a different perspective. For me that’s a way of trying to head for increased cognitive diversity and I think by doing by trying to head for greater diversity in the people you listen out to then you’re creating a more inclusive conversation.

FIONA: Absolutely, and it’s not always easy is it to listen to. I think we all have those people in our network who we know are going to push us or going to challenge us, are going to be thinking differently, but you’re so right that you know you get the best outcomes from that, right?

ZELLA: Yes, I think it’s not comfortable and it takes a bit of extra effort and it’s much easier to just speak to people, get advice from people who will reinforce what you yourself think but if you find that you’re in a meeting and everyone’s agreeing. What is the other voice that you could listen to that might have a different view, even if you still end up with the decision you were going to make. Being able to include that other viewpoints can only be helpful in thinking about the decision you’re making, there’s implications and how to how to go forward with it.

FIONA: Well thank you Zella. This has been such a great conversation and I’m sure there’s a lot for our listeners to take away as well. If anyone listening wants to stay connected with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?

ZELLA: LinkedIn is a great way to find me. I’ve got an unusual name, so that helps a lot a very frequent contributor do occasionally put things on LinkedIn. So I would say that first and foremost and then if you just type in Personal Boardroom, our company website will come up and you can also contact us through our website. So I’d love to hear from you. If anything I’ve said you know either about aging in care or about Personal Boardroom and networks and given the hole we’ve come a bit range but yes definitely keen to hear from anyone with their own perspectives and if it’s different from mine you know see what’s the better.

FIONA: And also just going back to your mention of using their Personal Boardroom tool, I meant to say after you said that there’s no strings to it being free, so please do go and try that and we’ll have the link in the show notes as well for everyone.

ZELLA: Absolutely and thank you so much for inviting me.

FIONA: Thank you Zella.

ZELLA: Okay. Great.

 

Be sure to follow Dr. Zella as @zella_king.

 

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