A conversation with Eksteen de Waal. Founder at Exponentially Me.

“You know, there are so many different forms of discrimination and prejudice. But I thought, when you write a book about leadership, what is there that hasn’t been written yet? And so for me, leadership is about perspective. Finding different ways of looking at things to solve problems. To be creative and to innovate. We need to look at problems from different perspectives. So we don’t ask the right question, do we get to the right solution? And so that’s some work that Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg did in his book, What’s Your Problem? And I started thinking about, but how do we apply this to discrimination? Are we asking the right questions?” –Eksteen de Waal

In this episode of Control the Room, I had the pleasure of speaking with Eksteen de Waal about leadership and helping people flourish.  He shares how a traumatic childhood event influenced his career.  Later, Eksteen explores topics like Psychological Safety, culture, and fairness.  We then discuss employee needs in and out of the office.   Listen in to learn all about developing exponential cultures.  

Show Highlights

[1:50] How Eksteen Became A Leadership Architect.

[10:15] Some Productivity Benefits Of Psychological Safety And Being Yourself.

[20:30] The Benefits Of Listening To Employee Needs.

[27:55] How Culture Is What Is  

[31:52] How Everything Is Personal

Eksteen on Linkedin

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About the Guest

Eksteen De Waal (MBA) is an international speaker, writer, author, thinker and leadership consultant, speaker Fellow of PSA UK and President of the PSA Netherlands.

With over 30 years of professional experience, Eksteen has spent time in the consulting world. Through a deep passion for team development and a belief that compassion is at the heart of all truly successful organizations, he founded Exponentially Me, an organization that focuses on corporate wellness and empowering individuals to freely live their true selves in a team environment. These programs help people connect and discover the organization’s heart to better commit and fan the flames of true engagement.

A firm believer that people must do what makes them come alive, his talks are delivered with gusto, inspiring people to bring their authentic selves to any situation they may face. Through his own interesting life experience, Eksteen has embraced his uniqueness for personal development: to live an exponentially joyful life!

About Voltage Control

Voltage Control is a change agency that helps enterprises sustain innovation and teams work better together with custom-designed meetings and workshops, both in-person and virtual. Our master facilitators offer trusted guidance and custom coaching to companies who want to transform ineffective meetings, reignite stalled projects, and cut through assumptions. Based in Austin, Voltage Control designs and leads public and private workshops that range from small meetings to large conference-style gatherings.

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Full Transcript

Douglas: Welcome to the Control the Room Podcast, a series devoted to the exploration of meeting culture and uncovering cures to the common meeting. Some meetings have tight control and others are loose. To control the room means achieving outcomes while striking a balance between imposing and removing structure, asserting and distributing power, leaning in and leaning out, all in the service of having a truly magical meeting. Thanks for listening.

If you’d like to join us live for a session sometime, you can join our weekly Control the Room Facilitation Lab. It’s a free event to meet fellow facilitators and explore new techniques so you can apply the things you learn in the podcast in real-time with other facilitators. Sign up today at voltagecontrol.com/facilitation-lab. If you’d like to learn more about my book, Magical Meetings, you can download the Magical Meetings Quick Start Guide, a free PDF reference with some of the most important pieces of advice from the book. Download a copy today magicalmeetings.com.

Today I’m with Eksteen de Waal, founder of Exponentially Me, who helps leadership teams exceed their performance goals through connected leadership and understanding the unique architecture of their team. He’s also the host of a podcast, Exponential Leadership. And is the current president of the Professional Speakers Association of the Netherlands. Welcome to the show, Eksteen.

Eksteen de Waal: Hi Douglas. Thanks for having me. Really great to be here.

Douglas: Yes, it’s great to have you. So let’s get started here with learning about how you got into working with teams and leadership to help them improve and learn more about how to be exponential leaders.

Eksteen de Waal: I think it goes back quite a while. I grew up in Africa and it’s a very small town close to Gaborone, which is capital city of Botswana, but I grew up on the South African side. And one of the things that stayed with me is just before I went to primary school, I had a friend Johnny and Johnny and I were playing and his mom called him to come and do some chores and she wanted to send him to the shop. So he ran to her, grabbed a bottle with which he ran to go get some paraffin at the local store.

And then I just heard a scream and I sort of ran around the corner after him and he had fallen and he was clutching this precious glass bottle to such an extent that when he fell, he cut open his abdomen. And so I sat next to Johnny and I held his hand and I screamed and my mom came out and she brought a tea towel, which we wet it, and I basically sat there holding my friend’s hand and holding his gut in. And it was probably the longest hour waiting for the ambulance. And I never saw Johnny again. A few days later, I got a call from the local [inaudible 00:02:56] the telephone exchange to explain that Johnny didn’t make it. And it was really raw and difficult to process. I mean, you’re just six years old, you know, how do you process this?

And then I went to primary school, and I was just told, as we’re telling people about the story about Johnny, that Johnny didn’t matter because Johnny was black. And in a part of South Africa, you grow up as a kid with friends, you don’t grow up with a color divide. And then, later on, that starts introducing itself. And also, my nanny, Leta, a fantastic woman, is like my second mother, all of a sudden, it was the case of here’s my second mother, and people were talking about her as if she didn’t matter. And so that was my first introduction into the way we could make people feel as if they don’t matter and the way that we behave sometimes completely with disregard to who someone is.

And that stayed with me. And it got to the point where about 17, 18 years ago now, I started looking into teams and performance. And one of the things that struck me was that in most businesses, especially in IT, where I was sitting at the time, everything is about process and or task. And all the KPIs are about what you do, but there’s nothing that says who you are.

And so I started realizing that that same sense of disconnect that we have when we are different is what the IT guys were experiencing, because they’re just the person that fixes your computer or the first person that should put another button on your software. But there’s so much more than that, they’re wonderful people. And it reminded me when I came out in my teenage years in high school, where I basically got water boarded because of it, that this being different, it can be so harmful when people do not understand that it can be a bonus. It can be a plus. It can be so wonderful and so rich when we allow for that diversity or that which is different, and then see how we can utilize that to improve performance.

So I started looking at who people are and what drives them, what motivates them and to try to create things that allow us to be on one hand evaluative, but on the other side, see how that helps us to connect people that belong in [inaudible 00:05:44] together, because they’re the same kind of people. They don’t share a look or a sexual orientation or something like that, but because intrinsically, they’re good people, and they can work well together. And that got me onto, but what leaders doing about this? And that’s what got me going and why I started my company, Exponentially Me.

Douglas: Wow. Amazing. Such a deep story with very early beginnings. And I think that it’s pretty telling that experience spoke to you in the way that it did. I think that it’s could easily have gone the other direction where it’s like, oh, okay, that’s why I don’t have to be concerned about this. But that stuck with you and it’s clear, as it’s had an impact in your work. And I’m aware from our pre-show chat, that you’re actually working on a book right now centered around exponential leader. And there’s a chapter that you’re wrestling with that’s around that very topic. And I think were you telling me it’s called The Unholy Trinity.

Eksteen de Waal: Yeah. You know, there are so many different forms of discrimination and prejudice. But I thought, when you write a book about leadership, what is there that hasn’t been written yet? And so for me, leadership is about perspective. Finding different ways of looking at things to solve problems. To be creative and to innovate. We need to look at problems from different perspectives. So we don’t ask the right question, do we get to the right solution? And so that’s some work that Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg did in his book, What’s Your Problem? And I started thinking about, but how do we apply this to discrimination? Are we asking the right questions?

And so I decided to focus on three aspects, specifically what I called the unholy trinity of discrimination. Racism, sexism, and homophobia. And looking at that and see what are the perspectives we have? And what are the perspectives we are missing? And then how do we take that into practice? So the whole book is centered around different perspectives and different practices around certain themes. And one of the themes I’m writing, I said, with the moment is discrimination. And it’s been an eye opener. Even though I’ve been working on this a long time, it’s been eye opener to really have those intimate conversations with friends and with colleagues and people that I don’t even know about their lived experiences by comparison to the experience of somebody that might have discriminated against them. And so exploring these things in conversations, I’m learning so much, and I’m putting that into the book.

And one of the things that I have had to come to grips with is something that is quite nicely illustrated in a book called White Fragility. And it has to do with our inability, in a way, as a dominant part of the culture, to understand that dominance makes it really difficult for people in minorities to speak up. And so being gay myself, I know how difficult it is, and was, for me to speak up about that and to find my voice and to say, you know what, it’s okay to be gay, on the one hand. But on the other hand is I don’t have to necessarily rub it in people’s faces, but I have to be me. At all times, I just have to be me. And it doesn’t matter if somebody else doesn’t like that because I’m me. As long as I’m allowing the room for the other person to be who they are. And so that sort of became the premise of trying to delve into different parts of discrimination.

Douglas: You know, I think that’s a really interesting idea. It’s something that we’ve been talking about quite a bit around creating spaces and making sure that there’s safety on teams. It’s really about do people feel valued and can they be themselves? Because there’s often these professional facades that we put up in this pursuit to be professional and sometimes they don’t serve us. Sometimes they might, because we want to show up in a way that we can get work done and that maybe there’s some conversations that aren’t best for the workplace, depending on the culture of where you work. But I think there’s a lot that is left out and when people can’t be themselves and they can’t actually show up as who they are. And so I’m curious if you have any examples of how that surfaced for you through your career? How you’ve noticed the difference between when you were able to show up as yourself and when you weren’t and kind of what were some of the consequences?

Eksteen de Waal: Hmm. I think I’ll first give you a perspective. I believe that for every person, there is a unique little hole that fits the whole of us. But no one can help you find it if they do not know what that hole looks like. So we need to understand the whole of the person and the hole, and see how that fits together. And sometimes the hole won’t be a perfect fit, but we get it as close as we can with the information available to us. And that’s why I call myself a team architect, because we look at how do we renovate teams or how to construct teams. And are those construction elements, those things that will help the team perform well together, from who they are and how they relate to each other, moreso than just what they can do? Because that, HR has already covered, and all those assessments and everything else. We do the tests we do before we go into large organizations and sometimes days we spend on this kind of stuff.

But we very seldom give that opportunity for a person just to be. And I think one of the things that really struck me with that is, at this team that I worked with, about 37 people in total, and we were an IT company and we were developing software for our largest account and the account was my responsibility. So I wanted to look at how can I help people to work better together? And what worked for me was to sit down with people and have a conversation about, but what is at play right now in your life? And give a space for people to be vulnerable. Because what I wanted to see is, what is the impact of our ability to perform when we feel safe?

And some of the things that are seen is when fear plays a role, we get [inaudible 00:12:08] or those kind of influences, your executive functions are dropped. So we lose things like planning, prioritization, task initiation, creativity, all those kind of things go out the window. We have primary reactions, people just spewing stuff, or really sensitive to things. All those kind of things come with stress. And so when we remove fear and we mitigate as much as possible and we mitigate as much of that stress response, the performance improves by 40% to 60%, almost as if by magic overnight. And I didn’t realize how big that impact would be till I started applying it and having these conversations.

And I discovered as one of the guys, his wife had multiple sclerosis. So he had this really difficult time because in the mornings he had to get help her. Then he had to help his kid and they’ve got to get to school. And then in the afternoons, it was really difficult because, when he left, everybody else had to really step up in his family to help out. And we changed one small thing. We just said, well, you can start at 6:00 in the morning if you want. So eventually he would start his day at 6:00, but at 7:00 he’d be in the office and that worked for his day. And then he would leave in 3:00 in the afternoon. And another guy said, you know what? I really don’t like being in the office before 10:00 and I said, “You know what, he’s going to be early, are you willing to stay late?” And so we created a day in which we can serve our customers from 7:00 in the morning till 7:00 at night, for a full 12 hours, but my guys were only working their normal eight.

And so by understanding their personal situations, I could find a place that would fit them and then started being open to things that they were struggling with. One of the guys had just started dating and everybody says IT people have absolutely no social skills. I think they don’t have as much time to practice it. I think that’s maybe the thing. And we were having conversations about how do you build trust, how do you build a relationship? How do you talk about how you feel? And just having those kind of conversations helped the rest of the team, helped him. And eventually he’s now married, kids house, you know, all the rest of it, to the woman he was dating at the time. And I just go, that to me, is success, seeing somebody flourish moreso than just financial success. Yes, it’s also doing not too badly financially, but yeah.

Douglas: You know, it makes me think about KPIs and how so many companies, when they lean into metrics, there tend to be financial or growth based metrics or some sort of specific kind of output that we’re trying to generate. And oftentimes there’s relational things, there’s empathy, there’s connection across the team that has a huge impact. And to your point, are we supporting people? Are we listening? Do they feel supported and heard?

And I think it’s very relevant, there’s a Deloitte report that came out this week and it’s titled, The C-suite’s role in well-being. And there’s one metric in here I wanted to call out, which was only 56% of employees think their company executives care about their wellbeing, while 91% of the C-suite think that employees believe they care about it. That gap is pretty phenomenal because you’ve got these executives that care, they want to help, but there’s some kind of perception gap. They’re not leaning in and doing the work or they’re not taking the time or it’s not translating in some way. And so that seems really relevant to what you were just talking about. If we don’t help people and build those connections and create a space where people can talk about those things, they’re not going to feel heard.

Eksteen de Waal: True. And I think the empathy triangle, which is maybe interesting to focus on there. On the one side, we have cognitive empathy, which is our ability to see that somebody else is feeling something. Then we’ve got affective empathy, which is, do we actually give a dam. And then with the third aspect, which is compassionate empathy, which is our willingness to do something about it. And in that willingness to do something about it, we first need the other two. So we first need to see there is something, there might be pain or there might be discomfort, and then we must be willing to act on it, so we’re moved to feel compassion for this person. We normally call it compassion, but it’s actually that action that you take that translates into what people see or the impact that they feel.

And so what we’ve been trying to do, or what we do in our organizations is we say, don’t get so emotional, don’t get so involved. And so we’re taking that affective empathy and we are basically taking it out of the equation. So we get to people that feel and see, but are not allowed to act. And so, because we’ve put this curb on action, any action that is not done from leadership speaks volumes by comparison to if your colleagues should do that. So we have this impact from leadership, it sort of escalates with every tier that you go up. And so the more people don’t act or that act on things that are necessarily irrelevant, it feels like there is a disconnect.

There’s this one thing that Chris Voss does. I don’t know if you know his book, it’s called Never Split the Difference. I love the stuff that he’s done with Black Swan. I was sitting next to Chris on a lecture at Harvard, actually. It was just, was fascinating to see him go. And he talks about the how and the what questions that he asks that are open ended.

And I think that’s one of the lovely things that you can do. So if you’re a leader in an organization, ask the leader that reports into you if it’s okay to sit with their team. To listen, to hear what they have to say, and immediately sit after that and have a chat about it and see what can you do to change things. So it becomes a leadership challenge, but immediate action afterwards. And in those conversations have the how and the what questions. Nothing else. Just the how and the what questions, so you can get the information that is necessary and relevant. And never shut down a conversation. Let that conversation develop because that’s what you’re there for, to hear, to listen. Because when we create the context in which people can perform, they will always outperform the benchmark. The moment we throttle the context, we throttle people’s performance.

Douglas: You know, coming back to your definitions of empathy, reminded me of some of Brené Brown’s work. She likes to delineate the difference between empathy and sympathy. Sympathy being the, that’s really terrible. And, I remember one of the things she attaches with that too, is when people are in sympathy mode, that’s when they say things like, oh, well, at least… And then they present some more worse example of what could happen and that’s not helping anyone out. To your point, it’s not taking action. So another thing I was thinking about when you’re telling that story too, is that the concerns about legal. HR has, in a lot of ways, become a defense mechanism. It’s like, hey, what are we allowed to do? And what are we not allowed to do? And I think it’s created a barrier to take an action in some cases.

I remember at a previous company, there was someone that was struggling and we were like, well, how can we help? And then there was this conversation around what is acceptable from our perspective as professionals and then the employer, what can we really do? And it’s like, wow, that’s like a really strange lens to take versus getting really curious and asking and being respectful of boundaries, but what are they willing to share and talk about? And then that might open up new ideas. To come back to Chris Voss, we’re not trying to just say, what is legal? Based on what we know, what are we allowed to do? No, let’s look at the emerging qualities when we start to integrate it our thinking once we know more, have more context.

Eksteen de Waal: I think as well, if you take that approach of people sometimes know better what they need, than your policies can provide.

Douglas: Yes.

Eksteen de Waal: And there are so much more possible, even within the rules, if you give people a little bit of freedom to make choices. I think, for me, part of that has to do with when we give people the opportunity to make choices, they’re part of the conversation. The moment we tell them what the limitations are, they only have roadblocks, they do not have abilities to change things for themselves. And I think that’s a very fine line. The policy can be the same, but the expression of it or the way in which you fill it in is different.

I think an interesting example of that would be if I want to have a conversation about working times and working hours, in the Netherlands, our standard is it is 8:30 till 5:00. Half an hour, lunch break, 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the afternoon, sort of break, that’s it. Done. That’s your day. And what do we do? We do eight hours worth of work. Effective, probably six, like most people would. But it’s frowned upon if you stay late. And the reason for that being is because one, if you can’t do your work in the time allotted to you, you’re incompetent, or you do not have the competency right now to be able to do that. But we employed you, so that means now we need to make sure you get up to speed, so we’re going to provide your training. Option two is you don’t know how to plan and execute according to plan, so we need to get you some training on that. Option three is, if none of the above then probably the work is too much, we need an extra set of hands.

And so it’s a slightly different approach from where I grew up in South Africa, where the case is if the person that’s in first and leaves last gets the most attention. And so I think part of that, the problem I see in this is, where do we put our attention and where do we provide our help? And so when we are having conversations, we need to understand where does the attention need to be and is the help we’re providing actually going to help that attention move forward instead of becoming [inaudible 00:22:20] or something that becomes painful?

Douglas: Yeah, that’s really fascinating. And it makes me think. In order to have an intervention policy like that, you have to be able to notice that this is happening. And so staying late is a very visual… We can see them staying late, if we’re all physically in the office. Well, with more of a shift to remote work and distributed teams and hybrid, that becomes less visible. And when we think about how a lot of companies are moving into remote work, there’s a lot more asynchronous work. You know, people talking about nonlinear days where I might take four hours off during the middle of the day and then work four hours in the evening just because that suits me better that day.

So I’m curious, what are some of your thoughts around how we detect these things, so we could… Those interventions sound great. I love this idea of being able to notice that, oh, maybe they need some time management or project management training. Or maybe there is too much work. I think these are good things to notice, but how do we notice those things if there isn’t this kind of, they’re working late signal?

Eksteen de Waal: For me, it’ll start with, I think it’s Kim Scott that said it in the book that she wrote. What was it called again? Radical Candor. She talks about what is fairness and that the time that you spend with someone is what drives the perception of fairness, not the content of the conversation. So if I, as a leader, have a conversation with an employee, I can have a conversation about what they need with one person that is completely different from another.

And we’ve ensconced fairness as being the same. So we have a fair policy when everybody gets the same, but are they getting what they need? And so maybe we should shift that conversation to what people need and have a conversation around what are you struggling with? How can I help you with that? Especially as we are moving more and more towards certain hybrid environments or continue to work from home. From a leadership perspective, it’s not important how many hours you spend on getting the job done. It’s not important if you’re working late or if you’re running 12 hours to do something or four. What is important is it there tomorrow morning on my desk at 9:00 when I need it? And is it there consistently?

And I think that’s one of the biggest examples leaders also need to set is consistency. Consistently deliver from yourself. You cannot expect that from others if you do not the same. If you make an agreement and say, listen, you know what, I’ll get back to you by tomorrow morning and we’ll discuss something with HR, you better deliver because you will be judged based on your delivery to your people. And they will decide if they will deliver to you on time. Because otherwise it’s not a loyalty thing, it’s a threat thing. And then we start going into fear again. So set the example. Make sure that you are delivering to your people. And the quid pro quo is almost a sense of guilt if you don’t. And strangely enough, that sense of guilt has less repercussions than the fear on our ability to perform.

Douglas: You know, there’s also a cultural piece here, right? Because any of those behaviors, whether it’s, do I do what I say I’m going to do? Or how do I show up for meetings? Do I constantly show up late? Am I living the values or am I kind of cheating the edges? Because these values are aspirational and I’m not modeling and representing them, then how can I expect the company to live those values, or the team or the department?

Eksteen de Waal: I think you mentioned two things there, which I would like to tap into. One about timing. I’ll have to get you the study, but there’s, there’s a recent paper I read about time and people’s perception of time, that we all have a different perception of time. And some people’s time perception is so skewed that being late or early has no value. And having lived in the Netherlands where I have a slight problem with my time perception and everybody in the Netherlands and jobs, it’s like, you go to a meeting, you’re on time. You’re not early. You’re not like five minutes before, that’s it. But it’s expected of you to be on time simply because the word for meeting and the word for agreement is the same. And there’s a saying in the Netherlands, “An agreement is an agreement and you will always fulfill an agreement.” And so if you’re breaking contract, is in essence by being five minutes late. So it became a real thing for me to manage that.

Douglas: And you know, it’s interesting because the time thing, you make a really important point. Because the time thing I was sharing is because oftentimes people will make a rule like culturally, we’re not going to be late for meetings. You know, they’ll have the meeting… In fact, I remember at companies that would have the jar that you had to put change into if you were late for a meeting, sort of like the swear jar. But that’s a value, right? That’s something we say, that’s a cultural thing. We’re going to establish this norm that we’re going to show up to meetings on time. They’re going to start on time. And if we don’t do those things, then as leaders, no one else is going to do those things either. They’re not going to live those values we’re not living.

The point you made about time, I think applies to all of these. It comes down to intrinsic behavioral… I mean, it’s just behavioral psychology, right? There’s ingrained behaviors. There’s ways that we have been conditioned to behave. And even though we aspire to show up on time, if we’ve been conditioned that it’s not a big deal, we’re proudly going to slip in a little late.

Eksteen de Waal: Hmm. I think for me, it’s this case of, I get so absorbed in what I do that I completely forget the time. And I go like, okay, it’s still five minutes before the meeting. Let me just quickly finish this email. And by the time I finish with the email, I go like it’s quarter past. And so sometimes time passes slowly, sometimes fast. I don’t have a consistent time perception. And so, you have to then put checks and balances in to keep your day going. Little alarms going off on your phone, you know, you manage.

But I think one of the things that you mentioned there, norms and values. I think we need to make a distinction. What we tend to develop as company values, a lot of it’s done by external parties. So you get a bunch of consultancy externally to come and define your values. And values might be aspirational, but culture is what is. And I normally tell people, if you want to change the culture, you’ve got to change the people. So that’s either hearts and minds, or you’ve got to fire people and hire people that meet those criteria. It’s not a painless process and it’s not something that happens overnight.

And so we can talk about these values, but who decided on the terminology of what your values are? Is it a definition that you’ve created out of the blue or is this something that’s standardized, and you can say, well, everybody in the world has these kind of values? So because we don’t have this common vocabulary… Same with emotions, we don’t have a common vocabulary that everybody knows. Yes, it’s been defined academically, but we don’t learn the words that’s necessary to express it.

So one of the things that I like to do is I like to use the VIA character survey or the Values in Action character survey, because they’ve taken 26 different character traits and they’ve arranged it in such a way that it shows where your focus is and what are the things, these values when you apply them, how does that make you happier? Or how does that make you feel more content? And so the moment that people do a job because it’s enjoyable, isn’t that so much better? And the thing is, if those are the values that drive and they drive the enjoyment of what we do, it is a perception, it’s a framing of what we do.

So in any job, I can find some form of creativity. So for me, for instance, creativity is right at the top. That’s the thing that really gets me going. So for me, it’s creativity in process, it’s creating new processes. It’s finding new ways of thinking about things. That’s where the creativity is for me. For another person, it might be coming up with a new technique of painting. Both of us are applying creativity, but we are applying it in different roles. And so when we know the lens to look through, we know the value that’s important to us to look through, then we can find those elements in our job that help us shift our perspective and still get the enjoyment out of something we didn’t enjoy yesterday.

Douglas: Hmm. Yeah, that’s really fascinating. And the one thing I’ll say, I think that bringing in experts to codify and quantify and wordsmith and amplify and do all the awesome things to your values, to me, is such a strange thing because values are something that we deeply believe in. And if they’re truly going to be lived values that we hire and fire by, that we’re willing to model and as an indicator of the DNA and the lifeblood of the company, I just don’t see how they can’t come from within. That doesn’t mean that an outsider might help you extract them and help put a mirror up in front of you as far as what you’re seeing. But I think such a mistake for people to just craft these things and hang them up on the wall and never live them.

Eksteen de Waal: I think for me, values and purpose tend to tie in very quickly. So for us, in my company, our purpose is to help people. And our value that drives all of that is that everything is personal. So nothing is considered to be purely abstract because everything we do has to do with people. And so what is your personal values? What is your personal perspective? What is your personal behaviors and how do we orchestrate that to make sure that all of us can do it together? And it sounds really complex, but when you go down to the basics behind it and the analysis we do behind it, it shows us very quickly what are those touch points that makes teams work and what doesn’t. And so leaders only need to have a few basic skills within that, and then let their people decide what they need. And then you create the context and they flourish. And so I think, for me, helping people to understand what people need to flourish is what gets me out of bed every day.

Douglas: That’s so great. And you know, we’re getting to the end of the episode here, so I want to give you a moment to leave our listeners with a final thought.

Eksteen de Waal: There’s this TV series called Suits. If you haven’t seen it, maybe you’ve seen The West Wing, or maybe you’re much young to have seen any of those. But there’s a character in both called Donna. And what Donna does is Donna has the ability to know what you want even before you know it yourself. And I’m blessed that I have a few Donnas around me. People that have cognitive empathy that are off the charts and also trained as coaches and psychologists and so on. But everybody deserves a Donna in their life.

So if you don’t know if you’re someone’s Donna or you don’t know if you need a Donna, we have this empathy test on our website that you can do exponentially.me. And you can see if you’re scoring anything below a 30, there is possibilities for growth. If you’re scoring over 32, you probably have a Donna on your hand. Because there’s also a study that has shown that people that score 32 above have a genetic predisposition for cognitive empathy. And so bless yourself by finding out who’s your Donna and who’s the person that can see what your team is feeling and help you navigate to the emotions of a team, which is really difficult if you do not have that ability. So maybe that bit of help is what I would like to leave your listeners with.

Douglas: Well, thank you. Eksteen. It’s been a pleasure chatting and hopefully we’ll get to do it again sometimes soon.

Eksteen de Waal: Absolutely enjoyed it, Douglas. Thank you for having me.

Douglas: Thanks for joining me for another episode of Control the Room. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive updates when new episodes are released. If you want to know more, head over to our blog, where I post weekly articles and resources about radical inclusion, team health and working better. voltagecontrol.com.