Welcome to the Teamology Institute podcast, supported by OTP Bank. Our main goal is to disseminate scientific and practical validated concepts in the field of building and managing performing teams. We believe that there is a great need in Romania to professionalize the subject and we hope to be able to help with these conversations, both from our direct experience of working in a team and from working with our client teams.
We will be talking about the systemic approach in team dynamics and team performance. It’s a subject that we are fascinated about and we hope we will be able to spread this fascination and interest.
Cosmin Alexandru: Before inviting you to introduce yourself, I would like to say that we did some work this week together with some of our clients and it was work that proved to be unexpectedly or incredibly valuable for our clients. Some of them even dubbed the “RIA effect”.
We will brand that and we will be using that in the sense that their interactions and what they were able to do together after the workshop with you was something they did not think was possible. I was very glad and very grateful that it happened.
Let’s start with the beginning and please let us know where you come from, personally and professionally.
Ria Verlinden: I come from Belgium, from Antwerp. I was born in Antwerp and I lived there. For a long time I lived there and I worked in different places. For about more than 30 years in Czech Republic, it’s a very important place for me because I was able to learn there, to develop my skills.
It’s a second home. The other home, I have a third one, is South Africa, where I go now a bit more than 25 years. It seems that as a trainer and a supervisor in systemic work and also old wisdom and rituals, it’s a bit my choice to go to complex societies.
That gives away that I come from a complex family system because one is connected with the other. My work for the moment is mainly training, supervision, teamwork, and less individual work.
Ria Verlinden: I like to be in leadership programs and coach women and men who have complex responsibilities. Society is not getting any simpler or easier. As I’m convinced that the only change we can do is inside and then act differently together or alone.
That’s my main focus and I never get tired of the complexity of human beings and the ways how we can avoid growth that might be not easy.
Cosmin Alexandru: I’m very glad that you mentioned this perspective of the change inside. Because in many of the teams I’ve been, it was also my case when I created and led teams, but also in many cases with my clients, people come into teams with the main expectation and they put this kind of pressure that the others will change. That the others need to change so things get better. We are already okay and if the others will change then things will be much better. And systemic approach comes from a different angle.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, I think what I really like in the systemic approach is that it starts from we need an adult to support that change. So there always might be young parts in us or vulnerable parts that are a bit shaky when the going gets tough.
But in order to implement the change you need team members who are willing to take responsibility. And it’s much easier to blame the other one. It doesn’t provide long-term development.
But at least you can breathe out and say, okay, I’m innocent. It’s not me. It’s not me, it’s definitely not me. It’s the world, it’s my family, it’s whatever.
Cosmin Alexandru: The clients.
Ria Verlinden: And then we hire a consultant and they will solve it.
Cosmin Alexandru: I know.
Ria Verlinden: And if you don’t solve it you’re not a good consultant. Yeah. Yeah, so it’s quite a commitment to look into the mirror and see what is the I, what is my place as an individual contributing to the team.
What do we agree on to contribute?
And where do I meet the hurdles that stem from the very first team we belong to, which is the family? Because that is the first place where we learn to act and to manipulate and to make sure we get what we want from mother and father.
And yeah, to use whatever means a baby needs only four months to adjust to the ability of the mother to act, to receive what the baby needs like attention, food, and cradling. So it doesn’t take too long for a human being to set that in motion.
And then to keep it in motion. Yeah, and if the team is not acting accordingly, we say, what are you doing? This is what I usually am successful in.
Cosmin Alexandru: I very much liked it because I saw your approach at work, in the sense that you name and you unearth all these possibilities for potential. So you’re not so much interested in what are the problems.
Cosmin Alexandru: You said once something that I liked a lot, that with this question, “what is the problem” you can fill many lives. The idea is not what is the problem, but what gets us stuck from fulfilling our potential.
And in a team, it’s a very valuable question. What do we need to do to unstuck the energy that will allow us to perform?
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, I think there are in human life, I think it goes beyond culture, that we try to adapt to certain situations and circumstances. And in adapting, we sometimes betray ourselves.
So in becoming an adult and living as an adult and being reliable as a team member or as a leader, people will recognize when you are courageous enough to be you. That means you’re not perfect, but you are willing to recognize that you’re not perfect.
Because that’s what a leader’s first quality is what is it that he or she can provide and where does he need the team to complement? So it asks to be you, it asks to be humble.
It doesn’t need egos. We’ve seen some world leaders who are very good in that. And it’s scary.
Cosmin Alexandru: We also heard it recently with one of our clients. They use these words that instead of communicating, connecting, and performing as who we are, we use our avatars. So everybody puts an avatar, the role, the function, the deliverables, and then we make exchanges among the avatars.
It can last for a while, but then it costs much more than it gets.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, and I think we don’t need to get rid of them because in some situations they are very handy. But then you make a conscious choice to apply it for a certain situation. When it’s the main identity, it becomes a problem.
Ria Verlinden: I remember many years ago I was in Johannesburg and my colleague Mosiwa, he was driving me and a young guy, a young trainer. And he said, you Europeans, you’re funny people. When there is no work, who are you?
So, oh, wow, that’s a good question. Who am I? Because I like my work, I’m slightly addicted.
Cosmin Alexandru: Yeah, we share that.
Ria Verlinden: And then when it stops, what is my identity? So it is a challenging invitation to bring yourself as much as possible to the team.
Because then that’s when you become reliable and real. And responsible. And responsible, because then you have all the tools that you already have and maybe gained and were gifted.
And you can develop the tools together that are needed. It sounds much easier than it is.
Cosmin Alexandru: Yes, but again, one angle that I’ve seen producing wonders, miracles from time to time. Is this, how can I say, is this very consistent approach that you have?
I don’t know about Belgium, but in Romania, we tend to be a deficit-oriented society. This means that we tend to look individually, but also in a team, on things that don’t work. And focus energy, how do we deal with the things that don’t work.
And your approach is a bit on the other side. What is very valuable that you have? What is your power, your strength that you’re not using enough or properly? Or as you said, where do you let your avatar become your identity? And you’re not using the very good things, the gems you have and the powers you have.
And when people start talking about that in pairs or in the team, some things change here dramatically.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, and I recall now the poem that Nelson Mandela recited when he had his inauguration. It’s the poem of Marianne Williamson. That people are not afraid to fail, they’re afraid to shine.
They’re afraid to be in the middle of the room and be applauded authentically. Many people really like to give and are a bit shaky in receiving.
It’s a deep longing.
Cosmin Alexandru: Especially in collectivist societies where they’re in the middle.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, it’s a deep longing to belong and to be given recognition and rewards. And when it happens, people stop breathing almost. So I believe that’s the side of the coin that is more difficult than giving. It’s receiving.
Cosmin Alexandru: And it starts early. I mentioned the other day I have a 10-year-old daughter and apparently out of nowhere, but actually, it was at the end of a day when we worked together with a client. Obviously, she didn’t know about it, but we were outside walking and she said, “Dad, I find it difficult. I don’t feel comfortable when receiving compliments. And so it starts early that you want them and she said, yes, I like them. But on the other hand, I don’t feel comfortable. And we had a talk about that.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, the beauty of that is she’s aware of it. That’s the most important thing. What in society might have been stressed and more recognized is to be giving and that you, if you do enough effort, you’re almost a saint.
And then at some point, the difficult part or what Carl Guftaf-Jungho is over there mentioned, it’s I’d rather be a whole person than a good person. To integrate that we have flaws and we are born with some kind of aim to develop or to become as much we are as possible.
So if a team is willing to sit together and to look at each and everyone in the more complete way, it’s relaxing and creativity can flow and love can flow and there is warmth and care and they breathe out. Oh, I have to I don’t have to be perfect either.
Cosmin Alexandru: And also you had difficult childhoods, upbringing…
Ria Verlinden: Yeah. And it brings more reality and to bow for the reality, what it has been giving you and what is the next step to deal with it or to look at it?
Cosmin Alexandru: I think you already touched the first principle or one of the principles of systemic work, this flow of giving and receiving. And it proved to be with some of our clients a very, very valuable place to reflect differently.
We worked recently with a team when we start asking where do you come from with this giving and receiving? And almost everybody claimed that they were educated and asked from them to give. And this is what they know how to give.
And they take the burden of giving and endless giving, basically. But then the question is, how come that in a team everybody’s giving and things are not really moving forward? Because there is this part of receiving that is not actually there out in the open and talked about.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah. And they’re a difficult concept steps in. It’s about limits and saying no and questioning your giving and receiving. And that can be in the family, in a group of friends, in your team.
Because the thing that shocked me a little bit in being trained in systemic work, in the constant giving, there is a hidden arrogance. That the other one is always in this balance and has to receive.
In a couple, it can be devastating that one is buried under all the giving and never can breathe. So it might be that the partner goes backward and say, in what way, one way or another, I need to create space.
Cosmin Alexandru: And also start receiving.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah. So giving is a clever way not to be on the other side and bow and be grateful and not be able to return the favor. And the biggest one is receiving life.
I think it gives a kind of freedom to realize that we stand on the shoulders of many others. Might we agree or not? It helps if we agree, but that doesn’t mean we might need a process to go through it, to look at all of it, where we come from and where we belong.
Also in a team, if we cut out those who created, those who started, those who made mistakes, and those who paid a big price, the team will become weaker.
Cosmin Alexandru: I think this is a broader topic. I feel like that being Romanian. I also lived it. It happened to me too. But I see it in a cycle in society.
Very often we truly believe things start with us. So when I go in as a new CEO or I go in a new team or more members are new, when I started my company, I was convinced that everything that has been done before, it was after the communist time, we should ignore and it will start with me. The field of market research, private market research in companies in Romania, I will start it. I came to the realization that this is not really true.
And actually, nobody starts anything. Ever. And I’ve seen it recently also explicitly with some clients when we were together, when somebody said, no, when I come to be the leader of a team, I start from scratch.
And then they realize slowly that it’s a fantasy.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, it’s a fantasy and it’s sometimes an ego-driven society or a kind of concept that we like to believe. But in fact, even in our body, in natural science, we are recycled material.
They can detect where our ancestors come from. And now neuroscientists even, I saw a conversation with Nobel Prize winners and they can precisely detect how much percentage Neanderthal each human being has.
So it didn’t start with us.
Cosmin Alexandru: Yeah, I have a friend who is a well-known philosopher and writer. And recently he was on a podcast. I think it’s his first podcast or it is the first podcast I heard him going to.
And he says something there that resonated a lot with me. He said the key of life is what lifts you up. And then I made this connection with what we are doing recently.
How connecting with your roots actually lifts you up. Recognizing what was before allows you to have much more energy to go forward.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, it’s a very surprising effect it can have. For me it was. After all these years, when I see it happen, people get colors in their eyes, and as if the light bulb goes on.
And that particular part I especially was given and trained in and received in South Africa. And in the Zulu culture and many other black cultures. They live with their ancestors.
Cosmin Alexandru: And when we say ancestors, we say the family ancestors, but also in organizations we say the ones who were before. Because in this mindset of, okay, I’m hired as a new CEO or as a new manager. Now let’s start from scratch.
And then, as you said, sometimes they call the consultant because people tend to leave. I also have a recent assignment with very, very fast changes in the management team.
People are not really staying. And you said something that again for me opened another door to this room that connecting to your roots is inviting people to stay. I mean, if people come to a place where they think there are some roots in here,
they are much more willing to stay. Very different from we start from scratch. And then when we go, somebody else will start from scratch and when they go, somebody else will start from scratch.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, and if a company, a team doesn’t have roots, when it’s stormy weather, it falls down. It needs a rootedness in the success, in what it has cost, what the price was that people contributed to paying.
The initial fire that was enlightened.
Cosmin Alexandru: I think this is, to my knowledge, the least discussed topic in the public space, in the entrepreneurial world that I’m in. A lot of people talk about the price the entrepreneurs receive when they sell their companies or when they get investment.
But almost nobody speaks openly or in the open about the price that the founders pay.
Ria Verlinden: The founders and probably also their families. And it’s not to be small or go to the pain. It’s about giving recognition and growing dignity.
Because that’s one of the other pillars in systemic work. If everything is allowed to be included, the company gets stronger and the team gets stronger. It doesn’t mean you have to repeat the mistakes but include the mistakes.
Cosmin Alexandru: Name them.
Ria Verlinden: Name them, yeah, and own them. Be an adult. One of my current students in Belgium in the training Weaving Wisdom is the co-owner of a family company. And during the process of training in systemic work, or maybe it was already before, they have a budget to fail.
I thought, what a nice idea. It’s a very unpopular word. But if we are not allowed to fall on the ground and to help each other up and say, come on, OK, we have a few bruises.
Let’s take care of each other. Take a deep breath, because that’s life. If you want to just look forward and speed ahead, there will be a brick wall along the way.
Cosmin Alexandru: And usually the cost gets higher and higher.
Ria Verlinden: People are working day and night and are never disconnecting and in a rat race. And we all know that, yeah, especially at least in Belgium and Holland and many other countries, burnout is increasing.
Depression is very high. And because, yeah, I like the concept again that I heard for the first time in Africa. We need to stop once in a while so that our souls can catch up with us.
Cosmin Alexandru: Yeah, I’ve heard that there too. When I was with the students in South Africa, I heard it and I liked it a lot.
Ria Verlinden: And it’s not a religious part. It’s the part in us human beings where it’s silent, where we can sometimes say, oh yeah, now I know.
Cosmin Alexandru: We have it in Romanian too. Yeah. The ancient wisdom is here too. We say it in Romanian, “ sa imi trag sufletul”, which means that I need to wait for my soul to arrive also. I did run too fast.
Ria Verlinden: Sometimes we can physically feel it in flying instead of walking or driving. It’s different physical chemistry.
Cosmin Alexandru: And when we talk about system, maybe this is also important to understand that there is a certain pressure in the organizational world, whether it be that corporations or entrepreneurial for results and deliverables and speed and energy.
And that this is a space where soul has nothing to do with it. It’s your mind that we are hiring and your body energy to resist. And we don’t talk about these things if your soul is here or not. We don’t really care.
You need to deliver the task and so on. But then you end up in soulless organizations. And people ask for a very significant amount of money to stay there. They need to be paid a lot to stay in organizations that forgot their souls.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, I think there is a trio of qualities and development that might help in not maybe call it a soul. But maybe your essence.
I don’t know. A lot of people are now going to the gym and they have trained bodies and they take care of healthy food. And it’s wonderful because we need endurance. Life is asking a lot.
And then there is the brain and the intellect and the knowledge. And people can study, they can have careers in that and keep on learning. But then the soul or the spirit or the intuition or yourself with a big S.
We don’t bother. If you keep these three components apart, you can break them easily. There are many moments in history where they knew how to break the soul. You know how to break a body.
And you know how to break or misuse or make the brain not to develop. Restrict from learning and developing. But if you weave them together, it’s pretty tough to have your body and your intellect and your soul in a kind of cooperation.
Cosmin Alexandru: I think this is where the team can actually play a very good role. In creating this togetherness, not only inside, it starts inside but also among ourselves. I do this with all the teams that I work with.
When we start the day of working together or the meeting, I collect all the phones. So first we need to disconnect, including mine. First we need to disconnect from what keeps us on the running path.
And then we can connect and do the work together because there is very important work, strategic work or operational work or soul searching or whatever we have to do. I look at it as a good sign that we are on the right track and it happened yesterday with a client.
Obviously, we collect the phone and at the break people take their phone. There is very silence in the breaks because everybody is on their phone. But usually if we really connect and start really doing the work together, it happens as it happened yesterday.
During the last break, after lunch there was another break, everybody got out talking with each other and no one took the phone. And I said, OK, we are on the right track. Now we could create this kind of doing, performing, working together for real and we don’t need all the other disconnection to feel useful and powerful.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, and to at least in some way make a time and a space for it. Intentionally. Yeah, and
Ria Verlinden: You mentioned a philosopher and I want to add one from Holland, Harry Kuhner.
And he once said quite a few years ago, the place where people develop is now the working space. It used to be in the evenings, of course, it was something on the weekend to learn or to connect with.
Now people are most of their time in life are in the workspace. And I think it’s a great addition to support each other to grow and that a CEO or a company provides growth.
Because that will make it interesting.
Ria Verlinden: And growth is something different than just solving problems.
Cosmin Alexandru: I think the challenge, I don’t know about other countries, but in Romania now, I think a bit of a challenge is to put these three things that you talked about together. Because many companies offer gym subscriptions. So you go for the body or courses, you go for the mind.
But usually, you need to go out of the company to do that. But actually to create inside the company, these opportunities for us to work together in a way that helps us grow with all three. This is, I would say, the beginning.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, I like the statement of years ago from Richard Branson from Virgin Atlantic who said “make sure that your employees are ready to go for their next job and treat them so that they never want to leave”.
Cosmin Alexandru: Yes. But also talking about systemic principles and systemic work, there is also this angle in which if you truly respect people at one point in time, you have to agree that they have the right to decide not to grow.
Ria Verlinden: And that’s probably one of my biggest challenges. Because I seem to fantasize sometimes the growth in people and sometimes it might be right and sometimes people maybe don’t have the capacity or not the right moment for them or it costs too much or it feels too difficult.
Yeah, it’s a big bowing for people who have limited access to grow or just refuse. Say, no, it’s not for me. Make me a bit more clever, but nothing else.
But it might have its consequences in the team because then there is the agreement and the cooperation in the team and the composition of the team that might react to it.
Cosmin Alexandru: Yeah, and the team or the manager may decide to part ways because this is something that needs to end as we need a different kind of energy to go forward.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, and I think the distinction for me is if it can be given recognition, it comes down already. But if we insist one or the other, you need to change, it’s an ongoing leak of energy.
So, if there is somebody who is very clear about that and takes the responsibility, might work. But not pretending and not faking growth or agreeing and then finally not doing it.
Cosmin Alexandru: Let’s come back to something that you mentioned at the beginning, this ability to say no. And we talked about it that if you don’t develop that properly if you can’t say no properly, you can’t also say yes properly.
They are entangled. I think I would like to explore a bit more this. It’s also one of the principles of destination. Sometimes things, projects, clients, employment, they need to end.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, and for me the moment that it happened in my life was many years ago that I decided or was just contemplating. Shall I stay as a trainer, as a member of the board in an institute or shall I leave?
And it went on for three years. And crisis after crisis and talks and my colleagues and it was an institute where I had my training. So, it was emotionally also a big step.
And then one of my main trainers, Judith Hemming from London, we had a walk and she said “Well, go where you are celebrated, not tolerated”. I said, “now I know”.
Cosmin Alexandru: With this key?
Ria Verlinden: Yeah, to feel I’m staying and it’s beyond something. But it was difficult to leave. I went and boom, my practice exploded.
But it’s a kind of betrayal.
Ria Verlinden: So, sometimes in a team, in an organization, when destiny is being accomplished, maybe a department needs to be closed or people need to be fired and they have to go. Of course, it happens because all these corporations are temporary, even if you stay until you’re retired.
But how you do it has an impact on the next one. So, if you clear the space with respect and gratefulness, as we mentioned in the beginning, to walk and stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, you have more possibility to grow on top instead of cutting the tree and say, OK, we plant it somewhere else. We don’t need those roots anymore. Boom. It’s a risky thing because it can fall on top of you.
Cosmin Alexandru: Maybe it will be useful to make even sharper distinction between these two words and concepts because I’ve seen many times them being used as one and they are not one, recognition and gratefulness.
Ria Verlinden: I always used something of the core value of shamanism, which is in my opinion an ecological principle to respect Earth and to know that you are connected to wind and Earth.
And I like it because it’s very simple. If you want to make a really difficult step forward or you need to enhance some growth or some change, first turn around and look where you come from, also in the organization, and have the courage to look at everything and everyone. Giving recognition is not the same as agreeing or being, I have to accept, I don’t know, but look at it, so that it has a place.
Acknowledge is there. Acknowledge is there and it’s not hidden in the corner anymore. And with that giving recognition, turn back to your future and make the next step.
Being grateful will follow at some point.
For some of the things. For some of the things and other things you will keep your distance because they are destructive or something else. But giving recognition means that you don’t exclude what you don’t like to see.
Cosmin Alexandru: I think it’s more or less one of the principles in therapy that you get from the unconscious things that exist, but you denied them the place and now you look at them and say, OK, this is what they are.
And now I put it there in the slide box, but they are there. I mean, in many teams and managers, also in my case, I was very convinced of this fantasy that if I don’t talk about it, if I don’t acknowledge them, they don’t exist. They will not produce any consequences if I ignore them completely. And reality disagrees. Even if I don’t acknowledge somebody that left the company or somebody that was here and did something good, their presence, so to speak, their consequences will still exist.
Ria Verlinden: Yes. And maybe if viewers or listeners want to investigate it a bit more, there is Rupert Sheldrake, a natural scientist who investigated, he calls it morphogenetic fields.
So places that hold some kind of memory. And one of his theories can also be applied to systemic work. So it’s fun to read about his research and how he connected that.
In the very beginning of developing the systemic work, he was closely connected to Bert Hellinger and all the others. So it’s interesting. And maybe we need to keep the freedom also to take what works and gratefully put it aside, because evolution is there anyway.
But we come to know more and more, also in scientific research, how deeply we are connected in whatever part of Mother Earth we are.
Cosmin Alexandru: And I think it relates also to this ability to say yes or no. Once you recognize everything there is, the way or the quality of the yes or no is much better than saying yes or no, ignoring part of that.
It may be a trap, you know, that we don’t talk about things.
Ria Verlinden: And ignoring it, I think it asks a lot more energy than we realize. It’s very exhausting to keep on pretending it’s not there.
Cosmin Alexandru: And it shouldn’t matter.
Ria Verlinden: Or he’s not there, or she’s not there. No, no, no, no, no, no. The CEO is not there. I’m just doing my job.
Cosmin Alexandru: Yes, yes. I encountered recently working with a client that shapes their values and behavior, vision, mission, values and behaviors for the organization.
And they mentioned the word happy, so that people here, we aspire, we want to create a context here in which people feel happy. And it made me wonder, should I expect to be happy in the organization?
Should the employer promise me to be happy at work?
Ria Verlinden: It sounds a bit more like a parent than as a boss. I think it’s very, yeah, it’s for mothers and fathers. We really long to make our children happy, although we know that life will decide probably at some point differently.
But we aspire to make them happy. For an employer or a boss, and even in life, I think it’s, I like more the concept of being meaningful. How can I contribute in a way that has given me recognition, that my place is clear, that I belong for a certain amount of time.
Happiness is not to be rented out. But we can work together as a team to do meaningful stuff. It feels for me a little bit more possible.
Because I think happiness happens in seconds and a few short, brief moments in time.
Cosmin Alexandru: And it’s also, I think, this feeling that meaning asks for more meaning. So once you create some meaning, there is an energy there to create more meaning. While with happiness, I’d rather keep it as it is.
Ria Verlinden: Yeah. And it is as if I do my best. At some point, there’s planet happiness.
Cosmin Alexandru: Talking about what makes an environment to have more or less life, I would like to, at the closing of our conversation, to explore a little bit also how the different genders react to that.
There is an assumption that I see and I hear around that usually, women are much more open than men to trying to put things together in harmony. The personal connections with the professional ones, with the businesses.
I’m also a lot interested in this entrepreneurial world that I’m part of with many founders. How did you find it in working with people here in Romania?
Ria Verlinden: It was a surprising experience. I work now in this area quite a bit and many times I heard women say, yeah, but my husband will not come to a workshop or to a training.
He’s not interested in all those fluffy emotional stuff. Okay, sometimes it happens, and sometimes it didn’t. And I adjusted my program to it to say, okay, I only will do it when you’re both here.
But here it’s the other way around. The men come and they say, well, our women are not interested. Or they have no time and they have all these good reasons like they have in Belgium. And then the men have, seem to have.
But I think there is a part where men and women are excluding each other. And assuming without talking about it. Really talking about it.
Really talking about it and say, I need you there. Or whatever works between. And yeah, it’s also like this is my world. And it was really a kind of formula that worked well for women.
Men are not emotional. CEOs, coworkers. I think it’s diminishing.
Cosmin Alexandru: Yeah, and it’s, I think it’s not true. It’s not true at all. Recently I worked with a client and it was a management team. And they wanted to cover two values to identify the behaviors behind those values that they want to have in their companies.
And the two values were empathy and customer focus. And I asked them, how would you split? You split in two, where do you want to go? And I wrote their name on a flip chart next to each value. And when I ended up, I realized that empathy, there were only women and for customer focus were only men.
And I said, wait, that wouldn’t fly. I mean, not on my watch. And I said, let’s rethink about it. Let’s acknowledge this and let’s talk about it.
And especially let’s talk about the fact that when this came out at the beginning of the day, the person that was most vocal saying that empathy is something that is crucial in this. We need to develop more. We need to acknowledge it was a man. Let’s not get, how should I say, the easy way out or the usual misconceptions that this belongs to that.
And then, indeed, they made it much more balanced. And it was a good thing that they made it more balanced because everybody contributed significantly to both subjects. Because they cannot go one without the other. You cannot have customer focus without empathy.
It doesn’t work like that.
Ria Verlinden: I think what might be fascinating to keep in your mind or investigate or not dismissing it. Sometimes the way a man or a woman is hurt or traumatized, wounded in different parts can seem like a man is difficult to approach when he’s wounded in that area.
And, for example, it was for me, I think 20 years ago, there was a movie of Tom Hanks, Saving Private Ryan, and it starts with seven minutes battlefield. And I was with my youngest brother in the cinema.
And for the first time, I thought my father was in there. And it became in my body real. Before that, I knew. So if we recognize what men and the male generations went through, it might be that the wounds are different and that the qualities are different that are developed there.
And also for women. But there is no ownership of we are the emotional ones.
Cosmin Alexandru: You should know best. You come from a large family. Yes, 13. And you’re in the middle. Yes, six boys and six girls.
Ria Verlinden: I claim the fact that I’m born to do group work. Yes. But I think it’s important also when there is a leader, it’s important that he or she knows where the strength is and where they need to take care a bit more for themselves in a situation that might touch some topics that are sensitive.
Let me take this opportunity to close our conversations under these two words, strength and care that go together and express my gratitude for you being in Romania for this week, working together, but also being here. I hope it will be a useful and insightful conversation also for our viewers and our listeners.
Thank you very much! This was the last episode of the second season, we’ll see each other again in the next season.
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