How Neuroscience and Psychology Impact Your Leadership – Jean Gomes

by | Jun 10, 2024

Jean Gomes, a luminary in the fields of leadership, organizational change, and personal development, shares his enlightening journey towards influencing human evolution in this profound interview. With a career dedicated to understanding and facilitating human growth, Jean offers a unique perspective on the interconnectedness of personal purpose and organizational missions.

Jean’s expertise lies in guiding individuals and organizations towards a deeper understanding of their purpose and potential. By sharing his personal experiences and the challenges he faced, he provides valuable insights into the importance of aligning personal and organizational goals. Through his work, Jean aims to foster environments where creativity and human evolution are at the forefront, driving positive change and innovation.

This interview serves as an inspiring exploration of the power of purpose and creativity in shaping our lives and work. By sharing his unique perspectives and experiences, he inspires individuals and leaders to embrace their purpose, unleash their creativity, and contribute to a more evolved and fulfilling future.

Notable Quotes

“As a leader, I wanted to be a driving force of human evolution.” – Jean Gomes

“We now have a much better understanding of what [culture] is. And therefore we can engage people in a conversation that unites the logic and the emotions and the sense of purpose.” – Jean Gomes

“Redefinition of mindset is how you feel, think, and see, and how that informs what you know, what you doubt, what you ignore in any given moment. Once we start working with that, then you build up a joined-up system to help people build mindsets for their future.”-Jean Gomes

“The costs to CEO tenure, the investments that are thrown away on major change programs are getting so clearly identifiable that something else needs to happen.” – Jean Gomes

“What we’re trying to understand here is what is the cost when you don’t address [well-being]?” – Jean Gomes

“Negative emotions are a really powerful way of getting to the primary problems that we face in our relationships and teams and at an organizational level.” – Jean Gomes


Reach Jean at:


Newsletter: Mindset Monthly

Podcast: The Evolving Leader

Further reading:




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Jean Gomes: As a leader, I want to be a driving force of human evolution. That’s what drives our business, what drives me to get out of bed every morning.

Jessica Kriegel: As technology continuously changes our everyday life, it also challenges our fundamental assumptions about the way we work and live. Today’s guest, Jean Gomes, the CEO of Outside Consulting, envisions a future where the growth of human consciousness and technology progresses in tandem, leading to a world where work enriches personal development and societal advancement.

Jean Gomes: In a growth cycle, it’s about creativity and inclusion and diversity. It’s the kind of topics that are around abundance. When you’ve got a lot of challenges and you’ve got limited resources and it’s positive, it’s growth. It’s growth.

Jessica Kriegel: Dr. Jessica Kriegel, and this is Culture Leaders, where we decode the magic behind the masters of movements to unleash the power of culture. This is the story of Jean Gomes, master of a movement to merge innovation with human development.

You’re listening to a Culture Partners production.

Jessica Kriegel: Jean, what is your purpose?

Jean Gomes: Up until a few years ago, I could answer that as an individual, but as a leader in my business, I would have probably struggled a little bit more. I’ve known for a long time that my personal purpose is to live a creative life. But since 2016, the intensity of all the kind of shocks that happened in the economy to our political systems and so on, and in my personal life, a number of things happened, you know, my parents dying and so on, that some of the assumptions about how institutions worked and my work, the things I would carry forward, really changed. And what emerged from all of that was as a leader, I want to be a driving force of human evolution. That’s what drives our business, what drives me to get out of bed every morning.

Jessica Kriegel: Amazing. So is that your organization’s purpose or your personal purpose or both?

Jean Gomes: They’re both tied in with each other, but, you know, right, staring right in front of me is a 10-foot illuminated sign saying, “Be a driving force of human evolution.” So it’s what reminds everybody every day that the work that we do has to count.

Jessica Kriegel: Yeah. So what isn’t working? What did you see about the way institutions operate? I was just talking to someone this morning about the scary ways that companies can get things done when they know the right people. What do you see that you want to evolve?

Jean Gomes: I think a number of things. I think the underlying assumptions about how the world works are changing rapidly, the kind of predictions and comfort zone that we had around globalization, around the value, the bargain, if you like, the value exchange between employees and companies is not working. I think we’ve reached the limits of doing more for less at a human level. The introduction of AI into the workplace is going to challenge the fundamental assumptions about what humans are for and the value that we create. Everything from how marriages work, we need a different way of thinking about ourselves in this world.

Jessica Kriegel: Okay. So when you have institutions that are structured to incentivize people not to care about that, how do you get the leaders of those institutions to act? According to their heart or the good rather than according to what shareholders want?

Jean Gomes: Well, I think this comes down to a redefinition of something that leaders instinctively get, which is that when they want to drive change or they want to increase performance, or they want to bring around some form of transformation in their business, the way that they’re currently doing it isn’t working. They rely on the ideas of change, get a good strategy in place and then maniacally get into what behaviors they expect people to tell them what those behaviors are and voila, you have changed, you know, things will happen. It never works like that. The costs to CEO tenure, the investments thrown away on major change programs are getting so clearly identifiable that something else needs to happen. And the piece that’s missing out of all of this is how people change, how their mindset, the way that they make sense of themselves in these situations, which was until fairly recently a nebulous concept that CEOs would back away from like culture being too abstract, too difficult to change. We now have a much better understanding of what that is. Therefore, we can engage people in a conversation that unites the logic and the emotions and the sense of purpose to give people something that is very practical. It’s not an abstract idea. It’s not a nice to have something that they would put into the Kumbaya box and say, you know, be pragmatic, be practical. We can actually show that how this creates value.

Jessica Kriegel: So do tell, how does it work? I mean, it sounds like you’re talking about culture. We define culture as the way people think and act and, and the way that we help leaders overcome challenges in their culture is about getting out of the action trap of focusing on behaviors and getting at the beliefs that those people hold. So maybe we’re doing the exact same thing. We should really be working together, but tell me what you’ve seen about what the neuroscience is of this, because I know you have a background in neuroscience and the mindset of work. So tell us what you’ve learned. What’s the silver bullet that everyone’s been looking for all these years?

Jean Gomes: There’s no silver bullet, but I think,

Jessica Kriegel: Oh, shocker. There isn’t a silver bullet. Oh, I thought you were going to give it to me. I’ve been looking all this time.

Jean Gomes: Well, there is, there is something that I think is a profound shift. That is, there is a whole bunch of really well understood disciplines around human change that are all kind of sitting in isolated boxes. They’re in psychology, they’re in experimental neuroscience, they’re in sociology and so on, but they don’t kind of join up. Therefore, they are tools that are kind of disconnected. So the traditional meaning of mindset, which dates back a hundred years, which is actually to do with that kind of dysfunction in people that they have a mindset that doesn’t allow them to move according to their goals, is where most people’s definition of mindset is, which is, it’s about somebody’s beliefs and how that informs their behaviors. The other way that we use the word mindset increasingly is to describe something quite different, which is how people look at the world, the mental model they hold up, an idea, or so on. So one is around how you look at the world. The other is what you use to look at the world. But there is another part of this, which is the missing ingredient, which sits in a whole different box, which is how you feel about how you look at the world. So depending on a frame that you hold up to a situation, which is the mental model, that comes with a series of assumptions and depending on the situation you find yourself in, you feel something either positive emotions or neutral emotions because it’s working for you or negative ones. So when somebody sits in a situation where the mental model and the associated assumptions that come with that aren’t working, that some degree of change or threat or whatever is affecting them, if they don’t understand that about themselves, then all of their intellectual activities are really about justifying how they feel. They are using defensive reasoning to make sense of how they feel because they don’t understand what that’s telling them. So redefinition of mindset is how you feel, think, and see, and how that informs what you know, what you doubt, what you ignore in any given moment. Once we start working with that, then you build up a joined-up system to help people build mindsets for their future, that they can then apply to solve the challenges facing them.

Jessica Kriegel: Interesting. So, I believe that feelings are not facts. Do you believe that too?

Jean Gomes: Well, I think that the way to think about feelings from a neuroscience point of view is that negative feelings, which, to be frank, are about 70 percent of what we experience all the time because they’re there for one purpose, which is to keep us alive, can be interpreted differently. So, I agree that the experience of emotions, positive and negative, is that they are a large part of how we make sense of the world. They inform the stories that we tell, and how we make sense of the facts is through stories. But there’s another reading of emotions that we can usefully find, which is that our emotions, particularly negative ones, are a signal that core needs in us aren’t being met. So at its simplest level, when you experience a negative emotion instead of categorizing it as something that’s being done to you, imposed on you by the environment or by a person or a situation, it’s actually telling you something much more profound, which is a core need in you either a physical need, an emotional need to feel valued, a social need to feel included, welcomed into a situation, a mental need to feel informed so that you can actually make good decisions and know where to prioritize and purpose and so on. Those negative emotions are a really powerful way of getting to the primary problems that we face in our relationships and teams and at an organizational level. So when you look at negative emotions and read it from that point of view, it gets you to first principle problem-solving a lot quicker.

Jessica Kriegel: Interesting. So, I find it very interesting that you’re talking about emotions in such depth and you are known as offering very practical, clear-eyed advice to leaders. But CEOs hate talking about feelings. I mean, they do not love talking about emotions at work in my experience. So how do you get them past that initial negative emotion about talking about feelings and get them to really engage with the science and the research so that they can start to change the results that they’re getting at work?

Jean Gomes: There’s a great question because I think what we’re really talking about is that leaders hate abstract ideas that don’t translate into things they can do to solve problems. And that’s a sweeping generalization, but they get quite frustrated with an academic approach. And part of what I’m constantly faced with, cause I love trying to understand the science and my research team who are neuroscientists and psychologists, that’s the world they live in. We need to understand that in order to be able to come out. You know, with something that is incredibly, uh, evidence based and then can translate into practical actions. So, I’m constantly in that, um, in that space of, of being interested in things and not wanting to overwhelm people with, with, with the science. So, coming to your question, I think the key thing that we’re trying to understand here is what is the cost? So when you don’t address that issue and the, the costs are manifold, um, or many fold in since that the first thing that happens is that smart people fall into intelligence traps. They use their intelligence to justify the negative emotions, which they don’t acknowledge. And as a result, they end up solving the wrong problems. They’re defending their value. They’re defending the status quo. Um, tuning out valuable information and data as irrelevant because of defensive reasoning. So that what that does is it means that they narrow their, um, their field of vision. They are not paying attention to critical factors, which if they could address quickly, they could probably, you know, solve very fast and they end up creating an organization that it is running off a set of assumptions about the past. That will prove to be wrong in the future. They’re building organizations that are protective and defensive and therefore become vulnerable to, to change either social change from the, you know, the, the people that are working in their organizations who want something different or from their customers for exactly the same reasons. So it limits your field of vision.

Jessica Kriegel: Tonille Miller So Tonille Miller . Of all the people that. Raise their hand and say, please help us. What is the most common challenge that they are trying to overcome when they come to you?

Jean Gomes: Well, it’s interesting because it changes depending on the cycle that we’re in. So in a, in a, in a growth cycle, it’s about, uh, creativity and inclusion and diver it’s the, it’s the kind of topics that are around abundance, you know, when you’ve got a lot of challenges and you’ve got limited resources, um, and it’s positive, it’s growth, then people want to maximize the, uh, potential of their people and so on. When it’s on the other side of the thing, it’s around growth, it’s around, trying to transform the business at the last possible moment when it’s almost too late. So it really depends on which side of that curve you’re on. And it’s inevitable that organizations are constantly cycling between those things. Essentially, they’re the same challenges. They’re all to do with change. But they look very different and they feel very different. Um, given, given which part of the cycle you’re on.

Jessica Kriegel: It does feel like we have a very short term memory, doesn’t it? I mean, in times of growth, we have all of these great intentions about making the workplace work for everyone. And we want to accomplish the kinds of things that we’re not focused on in times. That aren’t as growthy, right? Like right now you see everyone freaking out. I mean, they, that is a fear based leadership decision. There was research that was done in Harvard business review many years ago that looked, it was called roaring out of recession. And they looked at it was four or 5, 000 companies. For three years after recessions, three different recessions, looking at three years of data. After those recessions, the companies that roared out of recession that were thriving three years later were the ones that had leaders that were calm, meaning that they didn’t over invest in cheap deals and they didn’t lay off a bunch of people. They just stayed the course and kept going, knowing that these economic cycles will come and go. So how do we apply? Your research and your practical applications to that larger meta problem that the, that we forget so quickly that when things are good, they will get bad. When things are bad, they will get good.

Jean Gomes: Well, I mean, I think you’re absolutely right that if you look at, if you look at the, the evidence, um, is that most of the unicorns, most of the high growth organizations actually come from these moments. Where the thing that is missing when you’re in the survival zone, when you are in a, in a fear based team or culture is that you can’t think your, your way out of the, uh, the scenario you’re in. So really what you’re doing is you’re dealing with a very limited set of variables that you’re playing with. And the primary story is we can only just survive to the next level. Then we can start doing the things that will innovate or grow the business. And actually that’s probably the worst possible way in which you can think your way forward. So I think the, the thing that’s missing in this situation is imagination. And of course, when, you know, someone said to you, like, when you’re really angry, smile. You know, what kind of reactions are going to provoke in people? It’s going to make them want to thump you. And that’s similarly the kind of situation that when you’re in a fearful state, you’re saying to a CEO or a leadership team, what we need to do right now is to get ourselves into a positive state so we can be creative. That’s the kind of reaction that, that provokes in people. So we need a practical way forward. And the research into how we see our future selves is really illuminating in this, which is we have a very strange relationship with our future selves. We see them at, we see us, our 70 or 80 year old self as a stranger. Much in the same way as when you were 18, thinking about yourself at 40 is a really weird exercise. Just couldn’t imagine it. So we, we struggle to really think about what our future is going to look like. So one thing that I’m doing with many leadership teams right at this moment, is a future back exercise where I get them to stand in the future. Now it depends on, you know, the urgency of the, uh, the issues facing them, but it could be, it could be 18 months or it could be five years. And ask them to work back in terms of achieving their goals, in terms of the outcomes that need to be true at that point. And what you find is that they can’t do that. They find that really hard to translate a goal into an outcome. So a goal is an aspiration, an outcome is the consequence of achieving that goal. Which means they don’t actually know what they’re solving for to get there. So that absolute absence of the ability to envisage a future and then make it happen. Is very telling, but when you start to break down the process of doing this and help people to work out what a future mindset looks like, then you unlock all the, the true creativity that lies in every person, which is what do we need to solve in order to make that true and then work back what needs to have been true, you know, six months before that and six months before that and so on. And what you end up then is you get to stay and you realize. You haven’t made, in your current plans, bold choices. You are defending the status quo. You’re not going fast enough. You’re not recognizing the end consequences of your actions. You’re only looking at what’s going to happen in the next quarter, or in the next six months if you make these choices. Because most of life plays out in those end consequences. You realize you’re being too linear in your thinking, rather than non-linear, and so on. So a whole range of things comes out. So that’s how you translate. The gnarly topic of trying to get very rational, process orientated, structure focused people into creativity. It’s not telling them to be creative, it’s enable them to be creative.

Jessica Kriegel: So if I’m a CEO and I’m listening to this and I want to be more bold, what is the thing that I can do tomorrow to get me there?

Jean Gomes: Well, I think you need to do a couple of things. I think the first thing is to translate any goals that you have into future outcomes. And then work out what do we really need to solve in order to achieve those outcomes. So help

Jessica Kriegel: yeah, help me understand what that is. Let’s say I have a future goal of a hundred million dollars in revenue. How do I turn that into an outcome? What is that? So let’s go. You can coach me right now.

Jean Gomes: Sure. So let’s go into the future, where you want to hit this a hundred million, um, pound growth. I mean, I’ve just done this for, with a hundred

Jessica Kriegel: million pounds would be great. Actually, the U.S. pound conversion isn’t as great as it used to be. So never mind a hundred million pounds, a hundred million dollars. Same, same, go ahead.

Jean Gomes: Well, we were working on building a growth engine, which was, um, which had a goal in four years to be 400 million, uh, sorry, 500 million pounds, all right, scratch, completely new business from stretch and working back in terms of what that needed to look like and so the number of startups that this organization needed to have built, the number of customers, the number of products and so on. So when you start to quantify what that looks like, um, that was a very difficult challenge for people. That, what, that, what, what a goal forward is basically you could call it plan and act, but it’s actually plan and hope plan and hope for the best. Which means you don’t really know what you’re solving for. So if your teams don’t know what they’re solving for, they don’t know how to achieve their objectives. And so I think the first thing really is to try and embrace that idea that you do not know what you’re doing to drive the future forward. And that is a very big recognition that most people don’t ever really confront. They just keep on this idea that if they get a really great strategy in place, which basically is just ideas, and they put a really great plan on it and they put really good people on it, and then they demand for people to hit results, then somehow it’ll magically happen. But what that is completely missing is that your people don’t know how to close the gap between that future goal and today. They don’t know because they’ve never done it before. So in order to be able to do that, you have to invest the time to define what those outcomes look like. So let’s, to answer your question in terms of practical things. So if you say, for example, you are going to build a new set of products that are based on AI, or you’re going to create a new community that’s going to provide a hundred million dollars worth of new revenue. Then what does that look like? Who’s doing what? What are those customers getting? What’s the advantage they’re getting in three or four years, five years into the future? What are the systems and processes that you’ve built to enable that? Who have you hired? And then when you’ve answered some of those questions or you’ve started to envisage some of those things. Then you work back and you go, what needs to be true six months before for that to have happened? And then you realize as you work back that you didn’t realize what you had to build. You didn’t realize how fast you had to hire people because for them to make that impact, they need to not only be part of your organization, they need to understand your organization, they need to build stuff to be successful and so on. And you realize that you either woefully Underestimating the number of things that you need to solve for, but you don’t have the skills to do those things and your people don’t know what they need to actually solve. So when it looks, when you look at their, uh, their competency frameworks, their performance targets and so on, virtually none of that actually exists on what they’re doing today.

Jessica Kriegel: Okay. So you’re not saying take a revenue goal of a hundred million and backtrack that you’re saying, do that with your strategic anchor. So if we have a strategy to build a community of culture leaders, for example, we’re backtracking from that, the strategy, not the metric necessarily. Right. The

Jean Gomes: metric, the metric, it does help you to be realistic about what’s necessary to do that. So that’s about translating that goal. Into an outcome. The outcome is what happens when you achieve the goal.

Jessica Kriegel: So the goal is tied to a strategic anchor and the strategic anchor is what you’re reverse engineering. You’re saying in order to get that, what would you need to accomplish six months prior? And then what six months before that, and then what today in order to get on track. So it’s breaking up the future into smaller chunks of, of visualized realities so that you can then manifest it. Is that it?

Jean Gomes: That, that’s one half of it, then there’s the other half of it. So what you’re doing there is you’re, you’re trying to logically break down what that looks like in terms of activities. But the bit that’s the kind of the secret sauce is then to challenge the underlying assumptions about how you’re going to get across those different bridges, because if you’re talking about things, particularly that you’ve not done before, and there are a whole sense of variables, what you’re trying to then ask yourself is what assumptions. Are we testing in order to be able to get to that point? And that’s where the baseline assumptions about how you currently do things, what you did in the past will be valuable in the future. That’s when those things really start to come under scrutiny. And that’s where you, you bust those assumptions and you make the real progress. What that does is it contains the fear that people have, because if you just do the rational part of it, people in their souls know, I can’t do this, I don’t know how to do this. And they can’t articulate it because they think they’ve got now a logic plan where they’ve broken something down into its components. But what it doesn’t really address is the fact that they don’t know what they’re doing. And that’s the part of all of this, where you need to find a new answer. And that’s where this problems to solve and assumptions to start to unlock the true process and its value.

Jessica Kriegel: Can you give me an example of an assumption that gets busted? For example, if it’s to grow,

Jean Gomes: the big one is, well, we know who our customers, what our customers will want and who they want.

Jessica Kriegel: Yeah. That they care about what we’re doing. Yeah. Okay.

Jean Gomes: And that our people can actually deliver what we’re talking about.

Jessica Kriegel: That we have the talent necessary to accomplish those goals. Right.

Jean Gomes: Because we frequently don’t. Now that doesn’t mean you need to fire a lot of people, but it means that that horrible thing that fills people with dread at the senior level, which is we need to train people. We need to develop people. And so when they go, really, you know, they just need to do their job. If you’re going to get people to fundamentally change, their, the way that they look at things, then they, they need to be invested in to make that happen. When do you do that? And this process also helps you to understand how to place that, um, with, with the organization’s development.

Jessica Kriegel: So I’m curious. I have a TED talk that hasn’t come out yet. Maybe by the time this is live, it will be out. Um, and it’s called how to get people to give a shit. How would you answer that question? Because you just said something that we run into all the time. Leaders hate sending their teams through training. Can we just get people to do it? How do you get people to give a shit in a workplace setting at, at, at a scale, at scale, right? How do you operationalize giving a shit?

Jean Gomes: Well, I think, I think you don’t give a shit if you, um, if you don’t see what’s going on, because I think part of what a mindset does is, it defines what you can see in a situation. It defines what you pay attention to, what you disregard, what you de prioritize. And so if you don’t change what leaders can see and therefore what they value, they won’t give a shit. They will be motivated around anything where they can see an alignment between their goals and the opportunities that the organization has and, and the kind of ideas. And for many leaders, and certainly, you know, the organizations and forces, they have one, two, or three mindsets that they, they have perfected and adopted and they switch between those things depending on the situations and they’re insufficient for the challenges facing them. I was just doing this with one of the world’s largest automotive companies. And in a couple of days, we built six mindsets to help them figure out how to deliver the transformation, um, that the whole electrification thing. And three of those mindsets were completely alien to them, completely alien, but they embraced them because they realized without them, they’re not going to be able to see the things that they need to be able to see. They’re not going to be able to create the connection between the transformation work, painful stuff they have to do to change their focus as leaders.

Jessica Kriegel: Can you give us an example of one of those mindsets that’s alien to those leaders?

Jean Gomes: Well, I think one of the things that might seem a bit obvious, but you have to be kind of in the room to really feel it, is that a lot of us have an expert mindset where our value is tied up in, you know, in a, in a piece of knowledge or wisdom, experience and so on. And in the case of this particular leadership team, that’s very, very strong. And what it does is it atomizes the relationships. They didn’t have a one team mindset, which raised their, the, the, the equity amongst each other to one common level. And I know Patrick Lencioni talks about this a lot in terms of, of what it looks like. But the reality is that that is one of the least common things I’ve ever seen happening. And the mindset that we built around that elevated their sense of collective purpose beyond. Their individual value, the individual power they have with their teams for the first time. And that was the transformation.

Jessica Kriegel: Yeah. So I would say that’s a pretty common mindset blind spot for leadership teams, as far as my experience would indicate. Okay. So how do you get them to take on that mindset? Is it a decision?

Jean Gomes: It’s, it’s, it’s two things. It’s a rational thing, which is you see the case for, for not adopting it. And you see the evidence of all the recycle, all the cycles and patterns of dysfunction. That never convinces people. Then you

Jessica Kriegel: I’m glad that’s not your answer. So it’s like, you can’t just say, look at the data, you should have this mindset. If that were the case, we would all be working out seven times a week and eating greens all day long. Data doesn’t convince anyone to do anything.

Jean Gomes: No, no, absolutely not. And then you also have to get them to recognize the emotional reaction they have to those patterns and how they fall back into their trench into their. The collective defensive positions towards one another. And then the recognition that that’s never going to stop. You’re always going to feel those things. So you will never, you will never cross the threshold, an irreversible threshold of being in that. You have to constantly work at it. It’s a thing to manage. And that you will be suboptimal most of the time, but you will have these periods where moments where you can cross the line and truly adopt that place, but you have to recognize where you are between those two positions. And you have to have leadership around the costs and consequences for the organization, because ultimately that’s the algorithm that creates all the politics in the organization. It’s where you dilute all the motivation for people. It’s where all the bloody battles then, you know, sort of manifest themselves in the organization. And you have to create a strong emotional connection with that’s what you’re doing to your organization. Every time you have that conversation, every time you have that reaction, that’s what you’re doing. You have to keep holding that mirror up to you.

Jessica Kriegel: Okay, so if I can translate what you just said, correct me if I’m wrong, I want to make sure I’m understanding. It sounds like what you’re saying is you have to act as if. You have to decide, this is not our mindset and it won’t ever be our mindset, but we can act as if it is our mindset as a choice.

Jean Gomes: I think it’s a nice way of putting it. I think it’s like when you think about any really difficult challenge, the heroes. A hero in a, in the, in the, we most relate to is always slipping between vulnerability and strength. And that’s the thing, which is like, you’re never going to be always perfect. You’re never going to be the, the exemplar in this. You’re always going to be slipping, and recognizing that’s true. Means that you, you, you have to kind of reclaim the position every single time.

Jessica Kriegel: You know, it’s interesting though. I work on a leadership team now that does have that. I’ve never had that before. I spent 10 years at Oracle and it was absolutely the expert mindset. Cause all of those leaders are experts in what they do, but it’s also very competitive as a result. And. In my leadership team, I’ve been here for a year and a half now, on three occasions, I’ve seen executives raise their hand and say, if you don’t need me anymore, I’m willing to step down as a self sacrifice for the good of the organization, for what will make this organization be able to accomplish their goals. Have you ever seen that?

Jean Gomes: Yes, I have, but, you know, when, when I think about nearly 40 years of working at the C suite, I would say that it’s four or five times.

Jessica Kriegel: Yeah. Right.

Jean Gomes: Dozens.

Jessica Kriegel: Man, I’m lucky. Isn’t that incredible when you, and that I will say, I do think that the mindset can actually be adopted because that experience that I’ve had now three times, it leads to a belief that we are in this for something bigger than ourselves. It’s like Navy SEAL mentality, you know, it’s this company is going to do good in the world. And if it needs to do good without me, I’m willing. To to self sacrifice to see that live and and then, you know, there are people who have left and there are people who have not left after making that declaration. It’s pretty incredible. I mean. It’s so rare though, because we are driven by fear, as you’ve said. And that fear looks like I’ve got to keep my salary. I’ve got to prove my worth. I’ve got to beat my neighbor in order to show that I offer value. I mean, capitalism is never going to change that fundamental law of eat or be eaten, right? So we are working against the system in which we operate.

Jean Gomes: Well, this is the beauty of, you know, human beings, isn’t it? That we can have these conflicting goals where we are in a highly competitive environment, yet we want to cooperate and, and have purpose drive what we’re doing. So there is a set of, you know, paradoxes at work here. And, and what you’re talking about is so the evolution of somebody can be marked out by the number of paradoxes that they can hold without defaulting to, you know, an either or position on them. So the more, what you’re, you’re describing in the team that you’re currently working with is that some very smart things have happened over a long period of time. You’ve chosen the right people, you’ve groomed the right people, you’ve integrated the right. I describe mindset as a, sorry, I describe culture as a collective mindset. It’s what we teach people about how to, to, to see, feel, and think. And so you’ve obviously done that in that, in that team. And there’s also just a, some things can look like they are irreversible and they are just a golden period, you know, where you under a C, a certain CEO or certain circumstances, you can have a five, 10 year period where it looks just like we’ve never reversed backwards and that I’ve never seen.

Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, no, I think it is because of our CEO. I don’t think, I think if he left, everything would change.

Jean Gomes: There you go.

Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, but what’s interesting about it is that people crave it. They crave what we’re talking about here. So when they believe it’s possible, they’re willing to let aside their fears and their skepticism because those are really just a signal of an unmet need in them.

Jessica Kriegel: Okay. So what percentage of people that hire you, I’m going to call them the CEOs. What percentage of CEOs that hire you are, are hiring you because they, they want to do good and what percentage are hiring you because they think that you will help them make more money?

Jean Gomes: I would say it’s, I’m trying to find the, the former, more of the former. I think that we’re in an era where the, the, the whole language around purpose and social values and so on is so attenuated that a lot of people are using the language. They don’t necessarily mean it. And they certainly don’t necessarily mean the consequences of it. So I would say it’s, it’s, it’s probably 50, 50 at the moment, but that’s what we’ve set out. Yeah. Because we set our stall to want to talk to the people who we believe in, you know, a point in my career where I’m less inclined to chase projects for money, and much more for doing things that I believe in and working with leaders I believe in. So I’m, you know, I’m into that, that privileged last part of my career where I can be a bit more selective. I built up both the network and personal capital to be able to do that. And I have a purpose that’s driving me. And if, if the work I’m doing doesn’t allow me to make progress against that, I don’t want to do it. So, you know, it will be a fairly short assignment.

Jessica Kriegel: Okay, so let me reverse ment not mentor, coach you with your methodology. Turn your, you’ve got however many years left in your career. You’re at the latter end of it, as you just said. What is the outcome, the future outcome that you’re trying to create by the time you’re done?

Jean Gomes: So it, I want millions of people. I want to share with millions of people what we have learned over the last What will be my 10, my next 10 years, I’m probably a year or two into that period. So I have three things I’m doing. I’ve got a consultancy business that applying these ideas in the real world. And that pays for us, my research team of neuroscientists and psychologists to deepen an understanding of the underlying mechanisms of mindset, which we haven’t really covered in this conversation, but, you know, that’s the science. And then the third thing I want to do is I want to share that for free. Once that has been fully tested within the environments that we’re talking about. So the consultancy work has an output, which is thousands of people have used these things and we know they work and they know they’re simple. We know they’re easy to grasp. And that they deliver, you know, well-being they do, they deliver self-awareness. They help people. And I want to share that with millions of people by the time I’m finished and, you know, whether this thing carries on after me, I don’t know, but that’s my end game.

Jessica Kriegel: Beautiful. Okay. We have a caller who has a question for you. So let’s go to that person and then we’ll wrap up. How exciting.

Guest Caller: Hi there. I’m Tonille Miller. I’m in New York City, and I’m the founder of a consulting firm called EXT Experience and Transformation. So I recently wrote a book called The Flourishing Effect, Unlocking Employee Thriving and High Performance as Your Competitive Edge. And I would love to get your take on the top ways that you think leaders can enable their people to thrive in this new world.

Jean Gomes: Well, I think, I can look at this in a couple of ways. I think, in terms of well-being, one of the things that I’m seeing at the moment is that we’ve reached the end of teaching people tips and tricks about sleep and nutrition and exercise and renewal and, you know, appreciation, gratitude and so on. I think, you know, there’s nothing wrong with any of those things, but essentially what we’ve created is a competition between, well-being hacks and work. Some of them, you know, some people do adopt these things and, you know, self-learners and self-changes, are advocates of this stuff and you see plenty of them on TikTok talking about how they’ve done this stuff, but the, for the vast majority of people, the message that they’ve got is do that on your own time, figure it out, we’ve given you the tools to get on with it, get on with work. So I think there’s a slightly different approach that leaders need to think about, which is not to think about and underlining the conflict, but actually using well-being as a means of driving high performance. So where we have successfully done this, it’s where we get the CEO and the leadership team to recognize that well-being is a source of value creation. It’s not a luxury, a benefit. It’s not competing with people because all that does is reinforce the sacrifice mindset I can’t get what I need. So seeing our human needs as sources of value creation, more energy, more positivity, more resilience, more focused, more purpose and so on, I think is the first, first thing. And then the second really is to, for that leadership, leadership group, running a company to embrace that at the highest possible level. So that they can be the pioneers to figure out how they get what they need. Because when they get what they need, then they’ll make sure everybody else does because the benefits are completely out of this world.

Jessica Kriegel: Oh, okay. So what you’re saying is that when the leadership team prioritizes their own well-being, then it spreads, trickles down, the trickle-down effect of well-being.

Jean Gomes: Well, they see the benefit. They see the benefit of it because you know, when you’re around a leader who’s taking care of themselves in lots of different ways, then, um, they, you just generally get the better, you know, better experience of those people, but the more important thing is like, they have figured out how to do it. And that’s the key. And then they create

Jessica Kriegel: opportunity for their team to do it as well. Well, that’s actually true. My, um, that’s actually true. I say that as if it’s shocking that you said something true. That is not how I wanted to say that. Okay, good. Um, my, I’m relating to that in my own experience with my boss. I was feeling super burned out about six months into coming to Culture Partners. And I, um, I, I shared that on a team call. I said, I’m at the end of my rope. I don’t know how I’m going to get through this next quarter. And my boss, Joe Terry said, you have to make space for yourself to recharge, to think, to do the deep thinking that you need to do in your role and you can’t just be on meetings all day long. And so he, he told me about hearing from some other CEO at some event once that they blocked Tuesdays and Thursdays entirely of all meetings. And so I said, wait, can I do that? He said, yeah, you can do that. So for six months, I blocked Tuesdays and Thursdays off and it created so much space and I became way more productive and the only reason. That Joe suggested that is because he had done it in his own experience and seen the value. Whereas most leaders, I think out there would say, you’re just not going to work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is not what was happening, but it is how it can be perceived. Right.

Jean Gomes: Well, what’s interesting about, about that is that there is an underlying principle. That might be helpful to Neil to kind of take into this, which is, isn’t it interesting that the things that create value. Like deep work are seen to be in conflict with what the organization’s asking from you. So you’re, you’re obviously an incredibly skilled, experienced person who creates value by thinking deeply by working on problems and therefore coming up with ideas and solutions that require that, but you didn’t feel that your need to be able to do that was valid.

Jessica Kriegel: So, was it a lack of validity or is it a fear that not being visible can be perceived as not working?

Jean Gomes: Well, that’s, that’s the, that’s the, the kind of the, the symptom, if you like, of right feeling that your need for focus, for a sense of control over the work you’re doing, can be met and be visible at the same time. So what, you know, what’s underlying that is I need to immediately demonstrate my value minute by minute by being on every email, by being on everything. So if I’m not doing that, then I’m, I’m, I’m not creating value. Whereas if I, you know, five times a year show up with the most brilliant work and the rest of the time, I mean, I’m taking it to an extreme the rest of the time. But this work is like world-class, creates competitive advantage for our business. Our clients love it. We’ve become famous for it. What do you want? Do you want that? Or do you want to be like, I’m here.

Jessica Kriegel: I’m uh, I responded to your email within three minutes. Yeah. Fascinating. Okay, so my last question, I’m very curious to hear. What is something that in these interviews and in your work you don’t get asked about, that you wish you were asked more often?

Jean Gomes: Well, it’s a great question and, uh, I guess the immediate answer that comes to mind is one that I probably, uh, sort of like have a, not a love-hate relationship, but I have a conflicted relationship with, which is where and why do you feel vulnerable? Because I think it’s, it’s the question I benefit from asking myself and leaders more often. And I think, you know, it, it, it falls into a number of things, which is becoming better at embracing my ignorance. I mean, I’m paid to have an opinion. I’m paid to know stuff. I’m paid. And there’s a great impetus to focus on that, what I know, rather than, you know, what I don’t know. I mean, ignorance, Stuart Feinstein, the neuroscientist, wrote a book called Ignorance, which is the recognition in science that we know, we, you know, ignorance outweighs knowledge, you know, like a billion to one

Jessica Kriegel: by far. Yeah.

Jean Gomes: But we think about ignorance as being the real opportunity rather than what we know, it sort of reframes it. So I think there’s, there’s, there’s that. I think there is recognizing when I’m vulnerable with people who are not like me. And I think this is the core to the inclusion problem, which is we’re so obsessed with things like implicit bias and language and getting all of that right. And we’re actually missing the core thing, which drives the behaviors and drives how people feel about us in these situations that when you’re with anybody who’s not like you, that could be knowledge, age, cultural experience, gender, color, you name it. You feel some degree of vulnerability around that person because they’re not like you. They provoke questions about who you are in that situation and without understanding that vulnerability and accepting that vulnerability, then you act clumsily, then you act defensively, then you act against your interests. And even if your motivation is good, again, it comes back to this defensive reasoning, you use your intelligence for the wrong thing to defend that sense of vulnerability, to avoid it, to mask it. And that’s when you make a lot of the mistakes. So recognizing that vulnerability. And then the third one is recognizing and accepting when I don’t know what I want. Because we are shaped so much by the expectations of other people. The biggest question that we can ask ourselves is who am I and what do I want? And a lot of the time we don’t have an answer to that question. We think we do. We’re propelled along by what’s cool at the moment, what people are talking about, what my boss wants from me, what my parents wanted me, what my schoolmates wanted me, and so on and so forth. But like how much of what we really want is set by other people’s expectations versus what I truly want. So those are the areas where I do well. To just sit with feeling vulnerable and the more I explore it, the more it yields and it’s not a weak area or anything like that. It’s just a real great lens of discovery and learning for me.

Jessica Kriegel: Beautiful. Where can people go to learn more about you and your workshop?

Jean Gomes: So, our website is I have a monthly newsletter on LinkedIn, called Mindset Monthly. Where I share the latest thoughts I have around how to build your mindset. And you’ll probably find me dotted around on the internet and various places and videos and stuff like that, talking to people. And I also have, I’d love to have you on, on the show, just a podcast called The Evolving Leader that I co-host with my friend, Scott Allender. So those are the three places you can find us.

Jessica Kriegel: Beautiful. Well, I would love to join you and I have loved learning from you today. Thank you so much for taking the time. We really appreciate it.

Jean Gomes: Thank you.

Jessica Kriegel: Thank you for tuning in to Culture Leaders. I’m Dr. Jessica Kriegel, hoping you found inspiration in today’s story. If you enjoyed the episode, please leave a review and share your thoughts. And thanks for listening.

You’re listening to a Culture Partners production. Until next time, keep shaping a positive culture. Thanks for listening.

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