Rachel Druckenmiller, MS, Founder & CEO of UNMUTED, is a keynote speaker who teaches high-performing leaders how to strengthen their soft skills and self care so they can be more effective. Rachel joined Count Me In to talk specifically about how individuals can invest in themselves to improve their overall well-being and enhance performance. She focuses on self-care and self-leadership, highlighting why it is important for professionals--particularly in accounting and finance--to stay true to themselves and avoid the dreaded burnout. Download and listen now!
Welcome back to Count Me In, IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. I am your host, Adam Larson, and this is episode 53 of our series. Our featured expert guests who joined Mitch for this conversation is Rachel Druckenmiller the founder and CEO of un-muted Rachel is a keynote speaker who uses her compelling speaking engagements and live workshops to energize and engage workforces. And her discussion with Mitch, Rachel talks about self care, self leadership and explains how individuals can manage expectations of others to meet the expectations and personal goals of their own. Keep listening to hear more about this valuable leadership topic.
So as we started talking about this conversation, we really said we wanted to focus on what we're calling self-care and self leadership. So the first thing that came to my mind was, you know, how do we effectively assess expectations? And I'm just wondering if you can kind of share your thoughts on, you know, how do we assess our own expectations against what other people are looking from us?
Yeah. There's a, there's a book written by a woman named Bronnie ware called The Top. It sounds kind of morbid. It's called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. And I share these with people when I speak at different events and conferences, but the number one is tied to tied to expectations, the number one and regret that people say that I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me. So I think expectations come in two forms, I think in one form for us to be honest about what it is we want out of our lives and being intentional about designing a life that we want. Because otherwise, if we're not calling the shots, other people will be happy to kind of tell us what they need out of us and, and, and basically design our lives for us. But when it comes to a professional setting, I think a lot of times we have, we make assumptions about what people expect of us because we see how the people before us have handled themselves professionally. And so if they've just driven themselves into the ground, we assume that we have to and we don't necessarily, you know, get curious and ask questions about what is truly expected and from other people and what are the expectations that perhaps are not justified that we're putting on ourselves.
That's great. And how do we go about prioritizing this though? You know, you always want to put your priorities, your goals first. You know, that's kind of the message and being intentional. But um, once you get to know what other people expect of you know, how do you go about reaching their needs to a point where you're still successful?
I mean, for part of it I feel like is you know a matter of really being really being honest about you know what you need from people. I think a lot of times we're afraid to ask for what we need. We're afraid to ask for support. We're afraid to ask for clarification. We're afraid to ask people questions about things cause we don't want them to see us as incompetent or an inadequate in some way. And so part of that I think is around making sure that we have the courage to be vulnerable and to be honest about, you know, what we need. But then I think, you know, another side of this is that, um, we have to, we're working for a business, you know, and so it's important for us to be clear with whoever we're working with that, you know, what are you, what are you expecting of me? So that I can measure my own success. Cause there's, there's a, there's a book called the truth about Employee Engagement. And one of the things that he talks about is that a measurement is one of the key factors that leads to job misery. So basically not being able to gauge our own success and progress. So I think you know, as employees, as leaders, one of the things that we can do to really make people feel, you know, a sense of engagement at work, and this is also tied to expectations, is to really be clear on how they can measure their own success. And so if we don't know how to do that, if it's not clear to us, we need to be willing to ask those questions and get that clarity.
That's a great point. And I actually just looked over, I have that book on my bookshelf right next to me in my office. So that's a great reference. Yeah. I guess, you know, the next question, maybe flipping the perspective here a little bit, but you know, we're talking about someone else's expectations of us. How about those who aspire to be leaders, you know, particularly our listeners, they look to be CFO's, business partners leading in the accounting and finance world. When you are the leader, how do you really, you know, not just develop your own personal leadership style but you know, consider the expectations of somebody else and make sure that you, uh, you know, work with them also from the other side of it.
You know, it's interesting, I think a lot of times, especially in very technical profession, so I've, I've often speaks to people that are in technical fields like, like finance, accounting, engineering, architecture and design, construction. So people that are in spaces that are generally very, very technical. And there's an assumption that in order to advance that we have to have the most technical knowledge, that if we're the most technically competent, that is going to be the thing that is going to help us advance and grow. And what I've come to learn through experience but also through a lot of research that's been coming out lately, is that there's this study done that looked at over 50,000 managers. And what they found is that warmth. So when we think of warmth, we think of approachability, accessibility, kindness, care, honesty, being present with people, that warmth was a greater predictor of leadership effectiveness than competence. And that surprises a lot of people because we assume that if we're just the most technically competent, that's going to get us ahead. And it's changing. So what's expected of leadership is, is changing and it's evolving and it's even been framed by Josh Berson, right? Futurist who has a lot of influence in terms of, you know, talking about leadership and the future of work. And, and he is reframing what we often call soft soft skills like these, you know, the skills related to emotional intelligence, Jensen communication and listening and kind of the behaviors associated with warmth. But he's reframing those and calling them power skills because those skills, if you can do those well they give you real power at work. They give you real influence at work. So I would encourage people to focus if you want to get to the top level of leadership to focus as much if not more on more of these these power skills like your agility people management ability to effectively, those are the things that are going to help elevate you. You still want to be competent. I mean we need people who are technically competent, but it's the combination of those two things that really sets people apart.
That's really interesting. And I like the kind of re categorization of that because you know, I haven't honestly, those are the things, especially in today's digital age that are often overlooked in my opinion and kind of what a lot of the studies that I read are saying, you know, it is the emotional intelligence and the communication that's most necessary to advance as we begin to work with different technologies in accounting and finance. So, um, I appreciate that perspective. I would like to kind of take a step back. You know, we were talking about expectations of ourselves, expectations of others and now these power skills, you know, what are some of your suggestions or do you have any perspective on how to really align all of this? Um, so that one can advance, one can succeed, but I know many times it comes with burnout, right? So how do we avoid that and make sure all of this is working properly for us?
Well, one of the things is keeping ourselves grounded and surrounded by people that know us really well, that can speak the truth with care. That can be there with us and make us feel valued even when we're not accomplishing anything. So I think a lot of times burnout is due to a state of disconnection. So we get to the point where we're so focused on getting ahead, we're so focused on proving ourselves. We're so focused on demonstrating that we're an expert and we know that we disconnect from these other aspects of our life that are important, like relationships, like these personal relationships like self care in the form of getting adequate sleep and making sure we're, you know, moving our bodies and doing things that we enjoy that don't necessarily involve numbing ourselves with alcohol or excessive Netflix for instance. So I think part of it is that we're often in a state of disconnection from our body sense of disconnection from people. It's that sense of disconnection from our deepest values. And then we further disconnect again by resorting to these things that keep us feeling a bit numb. And these are such common experiences. And so what I like to do is kind of wake people up to that, to that awareness that, Hey, you know, what is, is that really working? Is that really working for you? And what might you do instead to really take better care of yourself on a consistent basis by being in connection and community with other people on a consistent, you know, on a consistent way and by doing things like tending to sleep and, and having healthy forms of self care that don't necessarily involve, you know, checking out.
Well I think this conversation, you know, we kicked it off with self care and self-leadership and intentionally we indirectly kind of defined both of these, but I'm hoping you can kind of just give us, you know, your true definitions of self care, self leadership, and ultimately what are the benefits one can expect when they're able to implement this into their daily lives.
So self care is really kind of any activity that you're doing that supports your mental, physical, or emotional well-being. We have a tendency again, you know to put our needs was last, to put them the needs of other people, particularly women do this and men you, it to put our needs, the other people's needs above our own. And when we do that, we're just constantly, it's like these little sacrifices, at my friend Jeff Jernigan calls it these little like betrayals of purpose that happened over and over and over again. Like get us to the point where we don't even know what we want and we're not happy with where we end up. And so that, that self care piece, a lot of times it's framed as like, just take a bubble bath and do a face mask. And that is really a short term fix for an underlying issue, which may be again, rooted in this, having these things be consistent, not just these random one-offs. So sleep is perhaps one of the most important forms of self care because it affects everything else. So turning off your screens, there's a, there's actually a feature if you have an iPhone under the, uh, under your settings, under, under screening times. If you go to settings, go to screen time, there's a function called downtime and you can actually set your phone so that you can't access any of your apps for certain windows of time. So I have mine set to from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM that I have to basically override the system to give myself access to those things. So that's an example of a healthy boundary I can set to be present and to prioritize sleep and then really making sure that I'm having social time at least once a week with a friend or a family member whose company and presence I enjoy. And doing that in person, or at least having an extended phone conversation, like really making that people part of our lives have priority because whether we're introverted or extroverted, we need community. And that's one of the healthiest ways we can foster self care is through community.And then I also use a device called a whoop fan. It's W H O O P and that really helps as an external gauge for me to understand dandy how well I'm sleeping, how recovered I am on a daily basis. And it's, it's kind of like, yeah, this, this external gauge that's, that's a check-in. Yeah. And an accountability device for me to make sure that if I'm not getting enough sleep that I'm, you know, I had that data to tell me I need to prioritize sleep that night for instance, or that I need to move my body more. So that's what I'd say when it, when it comes to self care. And then in terms of self-leadership, it's really developing this sense of self awareness of who we are and what we can do, where we're going and, and really having an awareness as of of how the way we're showing up as affecting other people. So the self-leadership is, I think it's, it's very lacking. It's one of the things that I focus on. It's one of the things I'm going to be talking about the conference in November because I think it really is leaders who are the most self aware of leaders then act on that self awareness and are willing and humble enough to grow and change based on that self awareness. I think those are the most effective leaders and that's where we're going to be heading in the future.
So I'm just wondering if you could maybe share an example or like a little case study. I know you do a lot of talks, you work with a lot of clients and you, you've been around a lot of people who have been able to implement this. So has anybody you know, come back to you and shared some success stories that maybe you could share with our listeners?
Yes. So I was doing a training at a global consulting firm for their managers and there were about 200 managers there and one of them. So I was talking about kind of, it starts with you and the focus on that self-leadership piece. And in the session, one of the questions I had asked that I, that I had gotten from my friend Simon Bailey, is who gets the best of you and who gets the rest of you. And one of the women who attended the training reached out to me like two days afterwards on LinkedIn and she said, I've already made a huge change in my life. No, I was like, this was two days ago. It was like a 50 minute session, you know, what the heck did you do? And she got back to me, she said, you know, I'm a single mom and traveling for work has really taken its toll on me and required me to be away from my family more than I was expecting because I split my time between two different regions of the country. And she said, when you asked that question, who gets the best of you and who gets the rest of you? It really hit me. And I went back home and I asked my partner that question and yeah. And after having that conversation the next day, she went to her boss and she asked for a change in her role so that she could be home more with their family and be rolled off of the travel project. And her boss agreed to it. And, she's still at the company and this is two, two and a half years later. And the thing that resonated the most with me that she said at the end of her message was: She said, after she had that conversation with her boss, she said, Rachel, I slept better that night than I have any year.
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