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  • Writer's pictureAndy Goram

Toxicity To Transformation: Conscious Leadership


A blonde-haired woman and a grey-haired man with glasses discuss conscious ledareship
Marika Messager (left) and Andy Goram (right) discuss how conscious leadership can positively change toxic workplace cultures

Dealing with toxic behaviours at work, and rebuilding cultures that have suffered as a result, can be one of the most challenging tasks you can come up against as a leader. Where do you start? How do you create lasting, systemic change from years of poor management, and attitudes that have just become the accepted norm? In the latest episode of Sticky From The Inside, the employee engagement, retention, culture and leadership podcast, I spoke with Marika Messager, who's bringing a renewed, fresh focus on the kind of leadership that is needed to put these things right.


Marika is a trailblazer in the realm of conscious leadership and organizational transformation. With a background in Finance and firsthand experience in the intense and male-dominated trading floor, Marika has witnessed the detrimental effects of distorted behaviors and toxic patterns within organizations. Motivated by her own personal journey of self-discovery, she has developed a deep understanding of how individual mindset and collective culture are intricately connected. Marika's exploration of shamanic traditions and her training as a coach, yoga teacher, and mindfulness teacher have equipped her with a unique toolbox for driving systemic change. With her guidance, leaders and managers can tap into the power of conscious leadership to create environments where values and ethics shape every decision, and where lasting positive impacts on performance and culture become the norm.


Below is a full transcript of the conversation in this episode, but you can also listen via the player below:


Podcast Introduction

00:00:10 - Andy Goram Hello and welcome to Sticky From the Inside, the employee engagement podcast that looks at how to build stickier, competition-smashing, consistently successful organizations from the inside out. I'm your host, Andy Goram, and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn the lights on behind the eyes of their employees, light the fires within them, and create tons more success for everyone.


This podcast is for all those who believe that's something worth going after and would like a little help and guidance in achieving that. Each episode, we dive into the topics that can help create what I call stickier businesses. The sort of businesses where people thrive and love to work, and where more customers stay with you and recommend you to others because they love what you do and why you do it. So if you want to take the tricky out of being sticky, listen on.


Okay, so over the last few episodes, we've covered various leadership topics, including enlightened leadership and mindful leadership. And we've taken a look at resilience too. And today, continuing the theme, well, sort of, we're diving headfirst into the transformative world of conscious leadership. My guest today is Marika Messager, and we'll hear more about her story shortly. But for me, she embodies the profound metamorphosis that can take place when you understand and switch on a conscious leadership mindset and tool set.


Now, her journey from the high-stress world of being a female on the financial trading floor, to the enlightened path of conscious leadership that she sets now is going to set a fabulous backdrop for today's conversation. The journey to conscious leadership can not only reshape an individual, but it can also spark systemic, lasting change within organizations. Imagine, if you will, the ripple effect of leaders who are not only attuned to their own inner compass, but also dedicated to the well-being and growth of their teams. Organizations where values and ethics drive every decision, and where lasting positive impacts on performance and culture are not just the goals, but they're everyday reality.


So, with Marika's help, together, I hope we'll delve into the very essence of conscious leadership, what it means for personal transformation, this metamorphosis of organizations and its enduring impact. And most importantly, we'll explore how conscious leadership isn't just a trend, it's a catalyst for systemic change that has the potential to reshape the way we show up, lead and run organizations today, making them more compassionate, innovative, and sustainable. Anyway, that's enough from me. Let's get stuck into how this conscious leadership movement can change things for the better, starting from today. Welcome to the show, Marika.


00:03:14 - Marika Messager Thank you, Andy. I'm very pleased to be with you.


00:03:17 - Andy Goram It's lovely, lovely to have you here. We're both sitting here sort of late afternoon after a full day, ready to talk about something like conscious leadership, and what better end of the day could there be for us? You have a very interesting background, Marika. Can you do us a favour? Before we get started on this topic, just give us a flavour of the journey that you've been on, where you started and where this fascination with conscious leadership has come from.


The Journey To Conscious Leadership

00:03:46 - Marika Messager Sure. So there are many ways I can talk about my background, but maybe still I'll choose the angle of behaviours, right? Distorted behaviours or unhealthy behaviours or toxic behaviours. And throughout my life, whether personal and professional, I have had the opportunity, let's put it this way, to be exposed to a lot of distorted behaviours. And I have had the necessity to understand them so that I could learn how to function better in my family, in my social environment and in my career. So this started when I was 28. I'm going to turn 48 in a few months. So 20 years ago, when I had a family issue that got me sick and each time I was having a conversation with my father, I was actually sick and I couldn't really understand what was going on. I knew that we had a very difficult conversation that had created trauma within me and I was deeply shocked, but I just didn't have the tools to fight it in the way I used to, which is a very warrior mode of let's fix things and let's come to a resolution. So I started working on myself, as you can hear with my accent, I'm French.


00:05:13 - Andy Goram No! You surprise me!


00:05:14 - Marika Messager I know after 16 years in London, the accent doesn't go away. But I was living in Paris and this was 20 years ago. So I would say the most normal thing to do at the time was to do psychotherapy. So this is how I started this journey of mine of self-growth and self-development. And I started to get more familiar with understanding other people's perspectives, my perspective, why people were behaving a certain way and really to understand the patterns that each and every one of us had inherited from our parents, our society, our culture, and how those programs were actually shaping our behaviours. And this was the beginning of the journey.


And I was at the time in finance on the trading floor. And obviously I was also exposed there to some distorted patterns, being a young woman in that very male world, driven by money and loads of ego and a lot of performance and power games and all that stuff, right? So I was already making some links between what I was learning in my own journey, healing my family issue, and what was going on in the business world. And I became passionate around why is it that we have those behaviour, why is it that we display those behaviour and what is the root cause of them? And most importantly, can we change them? Right? And can I change them inside myself so that I can trigger change in the other? I very quickly, even though I was very resistant to the concept, but I very quickly understood that you can't change someone else if they don't want to change. I dove into this reflection on what if I show up differently? And if I show up differently, is it going to change the relationship then? So the constellation of the relationship. And this is how everything started, but it was just a start.


00:07:29 - Andy Goram But what a start.


00:07:32 - Marika Messager Exactly. And I'm somebody is curious by nature and who is a learner by nature and explorer. So I really tried and tried and tried and I had some toxic relationships with my parents, I had some toxic relationship with my boyfriends and I couldn't really understand what was going on. I was also exposed to toxic behaviours in the workplace. And so I really educated myself around all of those behaviours and understand where they were coming from. And so for myself, I did try a lot of practices and a lot of tools and a lot of methodologies that got me somewhere. But it was, to be honest, a bit more of a self-guided exploration. I would have loved for somebody to be able to give me a proper diagnosis and most importantly, a roadmap for transformation. And in this personal journey I came across a lot of different disciplines, a lot of different people. At some point that kind of steered in me a willingness, or dare I say, a calling to bring about an understanding on why those toxic behaviours are there and how do we heal them.


Bridging Personal & Professional Lives

So I explore many areas of self-development, but what really gave me the understanding that it's key to our work today is coming from Shamanic inspirations and Shamanic lineages where they believe that we have four bodies, a mental body, an emotional body, a physical body and a spiritual body. And that we need to bring consciousness to all those four bodies within ourselves. And they need to heal and transform together as well as they need to level up together for us to honor our potential and for us to thrive and create success in all dimensions of our lives. And based on that understanding, I kind of started to look at my self-work with a different lens and if I want to bridge that with a professional path.


So I was lucky enough, but I worked hard for it, to encounter success quite early on. So at 31 I was one of the biggest revenue producer as an equity sales in finance. And I broke through the ceiling of a seven figure compensation at 31, which was a big achievement. And then at 34 I was promoted as Head of Equities for Europe and Middle East for the company I was working for, which was a French bank.


The Three Ego-Traps of Success

So I was managing 40 people. Most of them were men older than me. So that was another interesting yeah, it was an opportunity and a challenge, but I learned a lot about that as well. And it is still but at the time it was really a world that was really men dominated. I was the only woman on the trading floor who was a manager. And so I could see how men and women relate together. I could see how men relate together.

And so I also could see what happens when men together make a lot of money, right? Which I now label like the three ego traps of success, which is adultery, arrogance and addiction.

But as I was observing that, I have to say they were my friends and we were all working really hard together, and it's a pretty tough job, and we were sharing moments together. Trading floor is a bit of a jungle. People have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and it never stops. And some people arrive at 06:00 a.m.. And some people stay the whole night. So it's really like an interesting incubator of the human population, in a way. And I developed a lot of understanding of men. I developed a lot of understanding of what it means to be a high-flying individual in that type of environment. And with understanding and perspective comes acceptance and compassion as well.


And so I could see that there were some great things about those men and that most of the distorted patterns that they were showing were coming from some programming and coming from also the fact that they were all doing the same thing and that therefore that same thing was becoming the norm and that therefore the norm was becoming something that could be accepted. And so I could see the influence of the system on individuals and how the system shapes individuals, and the individuals shape the system. And that became a big part of my work. How do we work on behavioural change at the individual level, but also at the collective level?


September 2012. Right? So that's almost more than ten years ago now. My company was going through a big restructuring and my boss at the time, who was a wonderful man, came to see me and he said, "Marika, your job is dead at the end of the year because I can't have a head of equities within our company. It's going to be like the company who's taking over that will have this role, but you've done a great job and I think you're fantastic, so we want to keep you." And so he offered me a few possibilities, which one of them was Global Head of Research, which was a great job, but I had already started that work and that curiosity around self-development. And I was, to be honest, dying to explore that, but kind of terrified at the idea of leaving that job that I worked so hard to get. But I took the opportunity and I said, listen, I'm actually going to stop and I'm going to give myself permission to explore this new path of self-development. And instead of giving me a new job, why don't you give me a nice check and I'll go.


I gave myself two years to continue to explore. My son was five years old at the time. So it was good to have some free time to actually explore those topics and also to train in whatever methodology I was finding relevant for myself. So I trained as an integral coach for a year, but I also trained as a yoga teacher, I trained as a mindfulness teacher and then I went to South America and I've been initiated in two lineages of Shamanic traditions, one in Brazil and one in Mexico.

And I came back from that with the understanding that we needed a leadership paradigm that was based on values that were completely different with what I had observed. Because what I had observed was pretty much based on power. So ego, power struggles, power games, domination, sometimes manipulation, then most importantly it was denying the potential of the performance of individuals and organizations.

The Transformative Power of Conscious Leadership

00:14:43 - Andy Goram I mean, firstly, wow, that's a background. There's a lot going on there. I think what I would really like to do in this conversation, Marika, is maybe unpack some of this stuff.


So it's clear to me that your background has influenced heavily your focus on this conscious leadership. And I'm going to ask you in a sec what you think that really means. And I'm sure it's got something to do with those four bodies that you talked about there. But over the course of this conversation, I think it'd be very interesting to unpack this in I guess three or four ways.


If we understand what this conscious leadership is, let's dig in a little bit more because of your own experiences; the role that self-awareness really plays in this journey in becoming a conscious leader. And then I'd like to sort of pick up where you've just sort of started to allude here, how that manifests itself in teams. And actually, we talked about in the introduction here that it can have clearly if you start getting teams of teams, of teams working, that's going to affect an organisation, right? So let's try and unpack it in that way and at the end I'm sure we'll find that it can play a role in your personal life too. So let's just take a pause, rewind and go, how do you define conscious leadership, Marika?


00:16:04 - Marika Messager The overarching theme for me is really that conscious leadership is a technology to future shape, right? To future shape yourself, your organisation, the system, and ultimately create a better future for all. But what does it mean really? Right?

Conscious leadership is three types of leadership. It's self-leadership, thought-leadership and team-leadership.

And it's very important to understand that because for most people when we talk about leadership, the only aspect that we think about is team leadership. And actually team leadership is probably the last aspect that we need to look at when we talk about conscious leadership.


Self-Leadership

So self-leadership is how to lead the self. And quite frankly, this is relevant for every individual. You don't need a role, you don't need a title in order to understand that, you need to lead yourself. And so leading yourself is based on self-awareness, right? We need to understand who we are, our patterns, our triggers, our program, so that we have the ability to respond to situations, to challenges and to opportunities rather than react. And I want to go back here a little bit and talk about toxicity or distorted behaviours. We live in a system that is narcissistic by its essence. It's based on values of domination, of competition, of separation and it's also greatly influenced by the patriarchy which also is based on separation. So that such a system has influenced all of us. As we accept that, we have some toxicity within us.


And so the consciousness element and the self-awareness element is to be able to accept and look at our distortion so that we are aware of them. And the leadership element is to lead ourselves out of those toxic behaviours, right? Consciousness or awareness on its own doesn't mean anything if we don't change what is not good, right, what is distorted. So this is the self-awareness piece. Knowing ourselves, knowing who we are, knowing how we function, knowing what we want. And from this bit we have to deprogram ourselves and reprogram ourselves with healthy behaviours. So that also is going to involve emotional intelligence, it's going to involve intuitive intelligence, it's going to involve systemic intelligence. So that's the self-leadership pillar.


Thought Leadership

The thought leadership pillar is around being a master in whatever field or art or industry that you are specialized in. And as you master something, you become a source of inspiration for others. You can share your knowledge, you can share your wisdom, you can share your teachings and you can put that at the benefit of a cause, an organisation, whatever really needs or could benefit from your thought leadership. And by the way, this also gives you purpose and fulfilment and vision and mission, right? Which is what a lot of us are longing for. There is massive meaningless crisis of meaning in the world right now and in individuals and the pandemic has amplified that. So we need as individuals to reconnect with our purpose but we also need organizations that are deeply connected with a vision and a mission and embodying that we need to see beyond ourselves. So that why we do things is actually much more connected to something bigger than us.


Team Leadership

And then the third pillar is team leadership, which involves how to work together in order to execute a vision, a mission that obviously is going to involve great communication and alignment with values. But also as a leader and as you're managing your team, you want to be able to inspire them to be their best selves. So you want to guide them for their own self-leadership. So a leader who hasn't done the work on self-leadership cannot be a good team manager. That's not possible.


00:20:28 - Andy Goram No, I just want to sort of say that lovely construct of self-leadership, thought leadership, team leadership, they all involve investment in time and effort, right? All those things which we will pick up on. You did your self-awareness stuff largely yourself, or do you have to people kind of getting help on this sort of stuff because it's too easy to bail out when it gets tough if you try and do it yourself, right?


00:20:50 - Marika Messager For sure. I'm somebody who dares to ask for help as much as I need and this has been key in my own transformation and really an accelerator. I always say the most intelligent people are the one who dare to ask for help. Yes, we can do things on our own, but we go faster and we go better and smoother if we are accompanied by the right people. I have a team of people and I've built a team of people over the years and they help me with specific things. But one thing about me is that I'm so strong in my alignment that when I know that something is shaking it a bit, I'm like, okay, what do I need to do with this? And if I need some help, I know the right people to ask and I know what to do about it. So, yeah, I would encourage some support there for sure.


00:21:42 - Andy Goram When you talk about it like you do, the image in my head is one of a Formula One pit crew. So everybody in that pit crew is there to make the car go faster and keep it on the road. But they've all got specific skills to enable you to do that. And I think your point around having different people around you, or different resources around you to kind of fine-tune different things, this is a point incredibly well made. This is not about every running out and getting one coach to kind of get it all done. This is sort of saying, look, take a good hard look at yourself, use some diagnostic tools, whatever it is. And then when you find where you've got development areas, then seek out specialists to kind of help tweak those and refine those.


The Pursuit of Mastery

The thought leadership I get. Pursuit of mastery is one of Dan Pink's secrets to motivation, right? Self-motivation, that mastery piece. Where have you found most benefit in that thought leadership? Are there any bits of advice you would give to listeners about that pursuit of mastery? Do you take it on a broad scale? Have you really honed in? Have you had a method to that? I mean, how's that worked for you?


00:22:55 - Marika Messager Yeah, and it's a very good question because thought leadership is not... you don't wake up one day and be like, this is my purpose. Right? And trust me, I've worked with clients and a lot of accompanied 300 leaders over the last ten years. And that's always like the question, "What's my purpose?" And so it's something that is organic. The easiest way to understand that you need to work on that. Because again, as much as we play with the physical, mental, emotional bodies and we don't work on all of them all the time, we don't work on self-leadership, thought leadership, and team leadership all the time.


So if you don't know why you're waking up in the morning and if you don't know why you're going to work, and if you're not stimulated to go to work, this really means that there is some element that needs to be worked on. It means that your why is not strong enough. Why am I doing this is not strong enough, right? And so that can come both from you and from your organization. And everybody is different with that regard. Some of us are meant to be proper thought leaders and some of us are meant to be part of something that has a wider mission and vision. But we are part of this. And because we are part of that bigger thing that is beyond us, we are still thought leaders because we are aligned with the vision and the mission of something else.


So my advice would be, depending on where you are with that, to ask yourself the following questions "What do I stand for?" "What is it that I cannot tolerate?" "What is it that brings me pain and suffering?" "What is it that feels unfair in the society, in the world in general?" And "How can I relate with that?" "How does it resonate with me?" And once we start to have answers to those questions, we can research. Now, knowledge is a commodity, right? But for me, it started with distorted behaviours because I was desperately looking for ways to fix my relationships with the people I love the most. So I was determined to find some solutions. And so I was speaking with therapists, I was speaking with shamans, I was doing loads of research and reading books and what is it, what can I do? And that become a form of mastery around distorted behaviours and what are healthy behaviours?


00:25:35 - Andy Goram No surprise I'm running a podcast based on it. But I'm a massive fan of the whole Purpose, Vision and Mission and the alignment piece, right? When I run those sorts of sessions for businesses to talk about purpose, that is tough enough with people trying to work out what it is that they want to do, but it's even harder, I think, which feels almost counterintuitive, to really find your own purpose. I think that is tiring. That is hard. That's a lot of questioning and again, needing support to help you kind of peel back the layers of where those answers are coming from until you really get to the source. I love the list of questions that you came up with. The one that I sort of also like, which occasionally can get me into trouble, is asking people to think about

"What does the world lose if you're not there?"

When you think about the purpose and you think about what you bring, I think that's a really interesting kind of question to sort of get into. Not to make people feel terrible about themselves, but to think about the real things that they bring and what wouldn't be around if that was left.


00:26:38 - Marika Messager I'm just going to share an example because I think your point is a very good one. And a lot of my work is actually to connect people with their purpose. But it's always that what do I bring and what have I been through? What are the experiences that I've been through that can serve other people? And I work with men and women, but for a lot of women who are in high position in the corporate world, to be a C-level these days, as a woman, you have been through a lot, right? You have been through a lot for a lot of them, what is it that you can share? What is it that you can teach for people to actually go through the same journey in a smoother way? And how is it that you can use what you've learned to create change within organizations and change in the system?


So that element of "What is it that I bring?" is crucial. And that's interesting because we always have to link it with self-leadership, because a lot of the answers I get, and especially from women, is like, "But I don't have anything to bring." It's like that bit of self-esteem and good enoughness always comes about, especially with women, because, again, that's the program that we've received. So that's why we have to work on all of these, right. In order to be a thought leader, you have to lead yourself.


00:28:03 - Andy Goram I think so. I think you mentioned those male distortions of adultery, addiction and arrogance. I think the... (Marika: It happens to women as well.) Sure. But if I say that, I'll get into major trouble.


00:28:17 - Marika Messager Right?


00:28:18 - Andy Goram Just at least with my wife. But I think it's so interesting that you talk about the difficulty people say, and particularly women are saying about war, I don't bring anything because that's the opposite of the arrogance. Right. That is a complete lack of almost self-confidence and this ridiculous kind of societal learning of if you say you're good at something, you're bragging. And bragging is a bad thing. And there's a big difference between actually being confident to say, "Hey, I'm actually really good at this and I can help, and I add value in this place", as opposed to saying, "I am the boss of this. Get out of my way, let me do it." Right. Massive, massive flip that needs to happen in people's kind of understanding of those two things.


00:29:05 - Marika Messager Yeah. To your point, I often talk about the difference between modesty and humility. And modesty is actually most it's an ego response, right? It's like, oh, I'm modest but actually what I'm really not doing is taking my space and bringing my value to the world. Whereas humility is completely different. Humility is knowing your worth but showing up and sharing it in a way that is elegant and graceful and not in your face.


00:29:37 - Andy Goram I love that. I'm going to use that more often. It's a far better vocabulary than I bet that modesty versus humility makes a lot of sense to me. And then if we take this forward into the third place of team leadership, organizational leadership, what have you seen as the impact of this whole self, this conscious leadership when it comes to really leading teams with purpose and actually the systematic change that can make to organizations? Because I know you're massively into the whole systemic change piece. So what have you seen and are there any stories, examples you can sort of tell of some of those transformational pieces?


00:30:18 - Marika Messager Of course. Well, first I would like to paint the picture of what happens when it's not there, right? So when we have an unconscious leadership or an unconscious culture, most of the time we're going to have a culture in an organisation where people are not taking responsibility for their mistake. So there is a culture of hiding, there is potentially a culture of denying, a culture of lying, a culture of manipulation. What does it mean? It means that there is no safety, there is no psychological safety in the culture of the organizations. So people are not able to show authentically and people are not able to be vulnerable. So what does it look like? It means that in terms of performance well, if we're hiding and if we're not taking responsibility, it takes forever to correct a mistake and it takes even more, longer time to actually put the systems and processes and practices that are required in order to avoid those errors in the future. I always say for me there is no such thing as human error. It's a system problem, right? It's a process problem. Now, if we have a good process in place and somebody is not following the process, that's another story, right? But at least we know what's wrong. So there is a lack of performance within the organisation.


Also there is a lack of joy, there is a lack of fulfillment because you can't really be your authentic self. You're always on guard in a way because you know that people are not being honest. You know that potentially you can be blamed for something that you haven't done because people are trying to put the blame and the shame on others. So that creates a culture where there is a lack of celebration of the successes. There is some emphasis on the mistakes, there is a lack of engagement. It's hard to retain talents and most importantly, there is no greater alignment with the vision. Because the vision is not embodied in the organisation. So those are the pain points, right?


The Pursuit of Revenue & Profit

And I think these days with the organisations that we talk to, people problems are everywhere when it comes to attracting talent, retaining talent, diversity, equity and inclusion, which if it's done wrong, it's dangerous. We have a massive change of the tech element. I mean, every organization has a tech project, which means that it's more pressure, it's requiring some reskilling, some upskilling. Every organisation is considering like ESG and CSR, but not really knowing how to implement that.

So there is a massive opportunity there because to be honest, if we look at businesses for the last centuries, what have we done? We've tried to increase revenue by gaining market share and we've tried to increase profit by reducing costs. I think that it's fair to say that we've kind of mastered this art. What we haven't looked at is people.

And people is a massive leverage because if you are in a culture where people are engaged, are committed, are aligned with the vision, the performance, the culture is going to create so much more success in terms of profit, but also in terms of fulfillment. And there is actually some data, there is some data, I mean, plenty of data these days, which is great. But one of them is that ego, right? So what I described as hiding and all of that is costing between 6 and 12% of your revenue. And it's the hidden line in the profit and loss.


00:34:07 - Andy Goram Wow.


The Cost of Unhealthy Behaviours

00:34:10 - Marika Messager So in terms of examples, I have plenty, but one I can share is an organisation I work with where there was a toxic culture, where every conversation was turning into a fight and turning into I mean, when I say a fight, I don't mean like a physical fight, but it was just like one person sharing their own perspective and talking over the other one. And they were just all going into defensive mode, which means that there is no creation, there is no innovation. There is no collaboration. Right? Yeah. And that is costing because the purpose of a company, of an organisation is to collaborate and co-create and innovate.


And so we work with the whole leadership team and then all the employees within the organization actually to transform that culture and to actually show what are healthy behaviours and to give them the same language so that they could address unhealthy behaviours together, that they could recognise them, discern them, accept them and shift them. And that has been massive because I still remember one of the employee in that organization who actually was the receptionist and he came to see me and he said,

"I can see the consequences of this work in each and every individual within the organization. They are different people and the way we work and the way we communicate has improved drastically."

And of course, when we do this work, I'm always very careful to bridge everything. Because there is self-development. But how does this translate into business practices, right? So we're always very careful to actually bring about new agreements of collaboration and new code of ethics and new rules of engagement that are very tangible so that there is a roadmap and there are some tools in order to change what is not working.


Recognising & Addressing Unhealthy Behaviours

00:36:22 - Andy Goram Behavioural change is so tough. And I think one of the couple of the most important points that I pick out from what you saying is firstly, recognizing and calling out those behaviours. Because often we assume that people can see what we can see and feel what we can feel. That is not the case. Most people make the wrong assumptions or uninformed assumptions about why certain behaviour is taking place. And other people are completely unaware of the effect of their behaviour. They just don't see it. So I think that recognition of those things is incredibly important.


And then I think both the positive and perhaps negative consequences that are attached to poor behaviour once you've reset the boundaries, once you've reset what is acceptable. In my experience, the businesses that have made the biggest transition aren't the ones who do the happy stuff and congratulate and catch all the lovely behaviours. That's easy to do. It's the businesses that do that, but also are very clear in nipping the poor behaviours that still exist in the bud, and calling it out, and helping someone recognise and make that change. And I think that's what I'm picking up from you in the same place with those two points.


00:37:44 - Marika Messager Yeah, definitely. And I think about one organisation I've worked with where there was actually an awareness, a very clear awareness, that there were some unhealthy behaviours, but nobody was talking about them. It was not out in the open. It was like the elephant in the room. And so everybody was trying to work around them, but that was creating even more distortion. And I showed up and me being me, I just said, "Hey, this is distorted." And just the fact that I voiced it, the energy in the room felt like a massive relief and release because it was being said. And once it's being said, we can work with it.


00:38:25 - Andy Goram 100%. I'm a big fan of the iceberg model. And the more you can lower that water level, the more you can see, the more you can fix. And I think that is wholeheartedly, true. Unbelievably, we are kind of coming to the end of the show already, Marika and I want to ask you two more things. Firstly, we've been talking quite a lot about personal development, but also the effect on teams and organizations. There's clearly a personal benefit in your own life into sort of like, bringing this awareness. And how would you summarize the effects that you've felt and that you've witnessed through all the work that you've done on people's personal lives?


The Butterfly Effect

00:39:08 - Marika Messager Yeah, that's what I call the butterfly effect. That's also why, as an organization, if you support your employees to grow, their loyalty and their engagement and their commitments is just going to amplify massively because thanks to working in your organization, they will actually learn healthy behaviours, they will learn about themselves, and therefore that's going to translate into their lives.


If you learn healthy ways to communicate, you're going to use them with your spouse, in your social circle. And if you develop more emotional intelligence, you are going to be able to come back to your centre and therefore you are going to feel much more at peace within yourself, no matter the situation. It doesn't need to be at work, right? And also, if you are connected with the vision and the mission of your company, and if you are proud and motivated to go to work, your levels of fulfilment and joy are going to be amplified again. So you're just going to be a happier person within yourself and a happier person to be around.

There is no exception. Let's put it this way, right? I haven't seen anyone who has been wanting to dive into that work for their career and their organization who hasn't been massively, dare I say, shocked by how it has changed their lives in general.

00:40:39 - Andy Goram I think that's a fabulous summary. And that word shocked is so apt, because I think when you're lucky enough to do some of the stuff that we do and go into organizations and talk to people, sometimes it is the simplest of concepts that people have never given any real thought to, or never had the opportunity to talk it out with colleagues and really think about these things on a slightly deeper level. They are shocked at the effect that those things can have. So I'm 100% with you.


Meaningful Relationships & Connection

00:41:11 - Marika Messager The importance of this work as well is to create meaningful relationships and authentic connection. And as you get to know yourself better, you're also able to share yourself in a more authentic way and in a more profound way. And therefore you're able to connect with your colleagues as well as with your friends and your family in a much more profound way. And I've seen team dynamics where people had been working together for ten years and we go in and we start to implement this work and suddenly they look at the person next to them with completely new eyes and much more, dare I say again, love and compassion and understanding and connection. And this has been beautiful to observe. And again, that has massive ripple effects in terms of how do we work together as a team, and how do we collaborate and how do we execute and perform better?


00:42:11 - Andy Goram I totally agree. And I think the fascinating bit about what you've just said is that for some reason we are scared of using these words like love and compassion and other such words when it comes to the world of business and work, which I think is just madness. And this is one of the reasons why people sometimes don't connect with the topics that we're talking about today, because they think it's some sort of, like, soft stuff. And it really isn't. Because these are human emotions. The world is about making connections with humans. Why shouldn't business be the same thing? So listen 100% with you. Those words, for me, should be coming more into the lexicon of business every day.


00:42:53 - Marika Messager Yeah, I mean, having said that, this morning I was on a conversation with someone who asked me, do you use the word love in business? I was like, not so much. But it's like, let's bring it down a level. What does it mean? It's about trust, it's about safety, it's about acceptance. So I agree. I would love to bring love into the language of organization, and I think we're getting there. But at the same time, I think our role is to bridge it nicely and smoothly.


00:43:25 - Andy Goram Yeah, there are levels, but if I can help more people love what they do, and be happy enough to say that they love what they do, I'm in a good place.


Sticky Note Wisdom

Marika, we've come to this bit in the show where I ask you to try and summarize and leave us with three bits of wisdom that you could fit on three little sticky notes. So if we think about the journey that you've talked about today, if you were to leave behind three little bits of sticky information, three bits of sticky wisdom on the topic of really getting to grips with being a more conscious leader, what would those three bits of advice be?


00:43:58 - Marika Messager Yeah, I guess the first one would be success is an inside job. So there is never a good time to start your self-work, but the best time is now, right? All our clients always say, "I wish I had done this sooner", so just start where you are and start with what you can. I would say that's the first one.


The second one is around those unhealthy behaviours and dare to take a deep look at yourself and what is it that's never working that you keep doing the same way over and over again and it's not working? And dare to do different, dare to question why you're doing this and dare to embrace being healthy in your behaviours. That's the second one.


And then the third one. We're all in this together, right? So there is no judging, there is no shaming. It's not about being better than the other. It's really about all of us evolving together and supporting one another in that journey so that ultimately we can create something better for everyone.


In Conclusion

00:45:15 - Andy Goram Three cracking sticky notes there, Marika. Thank you for those. And thank you for joining me today. I think unpacking this whole thing around conscious leadership and thinking about self-leadership, that thought leadership and the team and organizational leadership been a wonderful way to kind of really capture the essence of what you were talking about. Thanks so much for joining me today. Before I let you go, where can people find out a little bit more about you and the whole conscious leadership movement?


00:45:45 - Marika Messager Yeah. Thank you, Andy. So you can find a lot about us on our website, consciousleadership.org. There are plenty of free resources there. There is some free masterclass, free meditation. We send a digest every month with practical advice and valuable content. You can contact us through the website as well. And then we're very present on LinkedIn and Instagram, and here as well, we share some valuable content. So very pleased to connect with all of you. Again, this is also a movement and a community, and we have to come together as conscious leaders so that actually we can work together and show different ways of working together and being together.


00:46:31 - Andy Goram Wonderful stuff. Thank you so much for joining me today. I've really enjoyed our conversation and I look forward to seeing what happens in the future. You take care, Marika. Thank you very much.


00:46:41 - Marika Messager Thank you, Andy. Have a lovely day and it was a pleasure to have the conversation with you.


00:46:46 - Andy Goram Yeah, me too.


Okay, everyone, that was Marika Messager, and if you'd like to find out a bit more about her or any of the topics we've talked about today, please check out the show notes. So that concludes today's episode. I hope you've enjoyed it, found it interesting and heard something maybe that will help you become a stickier more successful business from the inside going forward. If you have, please like comment and subscribe. It really helps. I'm Andy Goram, and you've been listening to the Sticky from the Inside podcast. Until next time, thanks for listening.


Andy Goram is the owner of Bizjuicer, an employee engagement and workplace culture consultancy that's on a mission to help people have more fulfilling work lives. He's also the host of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, which talks to experts on these topics from around the world.


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