Joe Weston teaches us about leadership, resilience and stress
Joe Weston is the founder of the Weston Network, which trains corporations, governments, and other organizations in communication, productivity, and time and stress management. Joe Weston works with people to build their self-confidence, enrich their relationships, and gain clarity in their life goals. Joe Weston’s book, Mastering Respectful Confrontation and his Respectful Confrontation workshops teach participants how to reduce conflict, enhance their resilience, and foster cultures of respect, civility, and mutual empowerment. Joe Weston’s teachings draw on a wealth of knowledge and experience, both ancient and modern, to help people become their best selves. We asked Joe Weston seven questions about his work.
1. What is needed from leadership in times of uncertainty and anxiety?
It is useful when leaders can create environments that are inclusive, mutually empowering, and where people can feel confident and secure, fully human. In our Resilient Power Leadership program, we train leaders to understand that we all carry with us certain levels of trauma and aggravated stress, to encourage their members to face and confront the fact that people are struggling at times, and help them find balance with various professional and personal stressors. It is the perfect time to model power in vulnerability.
2. Why is it important to understand resilience, especially now? (What are the benefits for a person and their teams?)
A tough team or team member can think and feel at the same time. This leads to effective decision-making, clear communication, and the ability to meet challenges skillfully. People who cultivate resilience can care for themselves and others simultaneously. This is what we call creating a culture of mutual empowerment. This is exactly what the workplace needs in times like these and it makes the difference between an organization that is trying to survive and one that can thrive even amid widespread challenges.
3. How can people begin to incorporate resilience practices into their leadership?
One way is to develop open communication where people can share when they are reaching their limits, set clear respectful boundaries and hold each other accountable, clarify needs, and promote rest, self-care, and replace others when they need a break. A quick check-in with team members is a good start and letting them know that they can raise their hands when they are stressed or exhausted. The practices we teach can be done in 5 minutes or less. You don’t need any expensive equipment or need to reserve an hour to do a class. Just 5 minutes a day, or 1 to 5 minutes between meetings, can help you reestablish, energize, and shed stress.
4. Why should people focus on regulating their nervous systems?
There is a lot of stress and trauma in our culture, even before all the current issues of the last 7 months: COVID, George Floyd and racial justice, elections, to name a few. Our nervous system was designed to flee from hungry tigers, not necessarily a 24/7 bombardment of our modern day stressors. Therefore, it is necessary to understand what is happening in our bodies and then find practices that help us balance ourselves even when the children are screaming, the dog is barking, and their boss is talking on the phone. The stressors won’t go away anytime soon. The way you handle stressors can change, and you can learn to stay physically vital, emotionally stable, mentally clear, and avoid aggravated stress and trauma symptoms such as exhaustion, insomnia, anxiety, and withdrawal.
5. With many conversations in the digital space, how can people continue to regulate stress and prevent conflict with others?
Finding balance throughout the day is key: stepping away from screens, having quick drills you can do between meetings, and knowing what self-care means to you. When it comes to conflict prevention, if something is emotionally charged or complicated, it helps to go beyond chat and email. Pick up the phone or make a video call. Because the possibility of miscommunication increases with most of our interactions that take place in the digital space, start by giving the other the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions. The need to regulate the nervous system and the practices of physical, emotional and mental rejuvenation are now even more essential while we are working remotely, since it is most likely that we have become more sedentary and have engaged in less interaction with the the rest.
6. When speaking to someone with differing opinions on important issues, how can we keep the discussion focused on the issue rather than on individual instances or ourselves?
If you’re looking to win an argument, you probably won’t deepen the relationship or get to the root of the problem. Therefore, being able to suspend our need to be right is essential to listen more deeply and find new solutions. Finding common threads and clarifying the needs of both parties is the fastest way to find new solutions. We tell participants in our Resilient Power Leadership program that cultivating deeper levels of presence leads to greater impact and investing in deeper levels of connection leads to greater influence. So when you are present and connected, you avoid misunderstandings, and the problem can usually be solved creatively. This is most essential when most of your interactions are virtual, as non-verbal cues are more difficult to read.
7. In the time of COVID, many work from home. Do you have any tips on how to set boundaries when working from home with family members or roommates sharing the same space?
Learning to identify and express your needs is very important. But it’s not just about doing it, it’s HOW you do it. When you are in tune with yourself and with others, you do not make demands. Learn that the language of power is the language of feelings and needs. If you share what you need, be sure to ask others what they need. When you are both clear on what the needs of everyone involved are, then you can come up with creative new solutions that can work for all of you. Also, it might be helpful to structure the time during the week for check-ins. This is an opportunity to clear up any unspoken damages, misunderstandings and may be a renegotiation of commitments and agreements. So having a sense of humor goes a long way!
Thanks again to Joe Weston! You can see his book here and learn more about his work here. We know that prioritizing yourself can be difficult in times of stress, especially if you work in politics. Check out some of our favorite tools that can make your life easier and less stressful.