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February 15, 2023 | 33 Mins Read

The Neuroscience of Leading Through Change

February 15, 2023 | 33 Mins Read

The Neuroscience of Leading Through Change


Sarah welcomes Dr. Elizabeth Moran, former VP of Global Talent Development at ADP who now works as a consultant and executive coach and is passionate about helping teams and organizations successfully navigate and evolve through change using a neuro-transformational approach. She gives an inside look into her new book, Forward: Leading Your Team Through Change, and offers honest advice for change management success. 

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we're going to have a very interesting conversation about the neuroscience of leading through change. If you've been following the podcast or our website content for long, you know that change management is one of the biggest topics we discussed because it is one of the biggest challenges that you all have. So, we're going to have a great conversation about that today. I am thrilled to be joined by Dr. Elizabeth Moran, who is formerly the Vice President of Global Talent Development at ADP. She's an experienced leader, consultant, and executive coach, passionate about helping teams and organizations successfully navigate through change with her organization, Elizabeth Moran Transformation.   

Dr. Moran partners with Fortune 500 companies all the way to technology startups and works to support everything from large scale to small scale transformations. She holds a master's and doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, a PCC level coaching certification from the International Coaching Federation, and a certification as a neuro-transformational coach. Ooh. She's also the author of the upcoming release or maybe brand-new release, Forward: Leading Your Team Through Change. Oh, that was a mouthful. Thank you for bearing with me. Moran. Got it. And if it's okay, I'll switch to Elizabeth. Is that okay? Okay, perfect. Okay. Elizabeth, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. That was a lot to cover, but obviously, you came to my attention through your brand-new book, which is really exciting. But then in looking at your bio, you have a lot of experience with very relevant organizations, some of which I'm sure are listeners of the podcast.

So, that's very exciting. We're talking about change management today and how leaders tackle that, "What do we need to do to equip leaders to successfully manage change?" I think there was a time where change management as a topic was almost like a project. You have a project. If you understand the importance, you have a change management process with that project, and then you move on. Today, it feels a lot more like an ongoing necessity. What are your thoughts on that first?

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: I think you touched on two important things that people are noticing more and more about. One is that when you think about change management ... I say change leadership. I couldn't care less which you use. There's two pieces to that. You highlighted the one, which is super important, is being able to manage the project aspects of a change. But then there's managing the people aspects of the change. And so those are two different things. And oftentimes, people focus on the project aspects, rightly so, at the expense of, Well, are people getting it? Are we setting them up for success, including leaders?" And so when you think about that, that's important.

The second piece that you mentioned is it's constant ongoing change, not only multiple changes, but so many changes are years. They continue. They're rolling. And so leaders are faced with a change that changes and changes again. Actually, there's a quote in there from Ashley who is a service leader in the book, who was saying, "Yes, that's exactly what we're saying, 'Hey, thanks for this change, but just so you know, this change is going to be changing, and then we'll change it again.'" And we all laughed. But it was true.

Sarah Nicastro: That's exactly what I mean. When I started in this space, it was 15 years ago. Yes, there was change, but it was a more static landscape compared to where we are today. You know what I mean? And so if there was change, it was done, it was stable for a time, and then you moved on to something else. Today, the hits, they keep coming. Right? If it isn't one thing, it's another thing. It's this thing. And now, this thing we just changed is changing again. And then it's just that we live in a very real time, constant flow of information, constant flow of needing to react, et cetera. So, there's this, I think, increased intensity around it and also amplified need for leaders to really get a grasp on the people part of that change leadership.

So, the volume and the intensity has sped up. I think leaders are reacting in a variety of ways. Some maybe intuitively are better at it than others. Some are really struggling, but we need to make sure that we're equipping people to navigate this because it's not going away. That intensity is likely here to stay. Here's where I want to start, and then I want to get into some of the details. In your book, you are giving five simplified neuroscience concepts that every change leader can and should use to their advantage. Let's use that as a starting point, if you can talk us through those five concepts.

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: The first thing I tried to do with the book is to understand that everybody is overwhelmed. And so it was very important to me to provide something where it wasn't just, "Hey, here's the concept, one, two. Here are some things you can do, which is why I call it a playbook. So, here are some steps." And then number three, which to me was often missing, is, "Here are the words you can say. You have to have a difficult conversation with somebody that you think might be resisting. Here's how you approach that. Or when you announce a change or you're going to have to talk to your team, here are most likely the common tough questions you're going to get. And here are ways to answer it." First of all, even when I think about the neuroscience concept, they are five concepts with the caveat that, look, we are learning so much all the time, everything changes. But I tried to give a simple overview. And then, "So what? What does this mean for you?" I'm going to look at the book to make sure I capture all five. The first one was what we call the threat of uncertainty. And that ultimately is what the change leaders, themselves, are experiencing as much as people are.

Our brains hate uncertainty more than anything. And so the goal is, if we know this about ourselves, "How do leaders create ... " When I say certainty, I don't mean that that means that they know everything. But that means two things. One is when people are already in uncertainty, they think the next thing that is going to happen, in other words, what's in the unknown, is going to be bad. So, part of the leader's job is to know that we're already geared towards the negative. So, how do you help people course-correct back to neutral? And there's techniques to do that also for ourselves. That's super important. And then the other thing is when you think about telling your team what's known, it's just as important to say what's unknown because most people are thinking about ... Ultimately, the first question that runs through anybody's mind is, "What does this change mean for me?" And so that's why we talked about it's totally fine to say, "I don't know." And we'll get more into that later.

The second concept is negativity bias. That means we automatically have a brain that's tilted towards looking for that. We started with uncertainty. Now, we're automatically tilted to what's going to go wrong. That's just a way that we are always hardwired to protect ourselves. So, why it's so important to not only think about what could go wrong in a change and allow your people to talk about it. It's also important to basically think about, "Well, what could go right?" The third thing is switch-cost. And many times, I hear from service leaders ... Leaders in general, but service leaders, particularly if they have employees who've been around for a long time, is, "Oh, my gosh. The people, they don't want to change. It's so hard to get people to change." And so this gives leaders an understanding about why. I like to say there's a little geek in your brain that's calculating the cost-benefit analysis for you to make the effort to change. And so a lot of times, we like to stay in the ideation phase, "Ooh, that sounds great. That would be so cool." But actually, when it comes to doing the work ... And I give an example in the book of when I tried to learn a foreign language. Sounded like a great idea when I was living in Italy. My brain was like, "It's not happening."

Didn't matter how kind the Italian people were, wasn't going to happen. The switch-cost was too great. So, then I talk to leaders, "Well, how do you deal with this?" And one way you deal with it is helping people understand what they can get rewarded for. So, in this case, what we're looking for is not perfection in somebody doing a task or doing it the exact same way we've done. We're going to reward people trying something new. And that's a way you can counteract. Do you want to jump in?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I was just going to say one thing on that because sometimes, one of the challenges I hear is in that ideation phase ... Let's say digital transformation. We're adopting this new tool, and we're going to do this, so it will improve X, Y, or Z about your Mr. or Mrs. Frontline-Worker, role. "Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. Sounds good. Sure, I'll consider that." But then adoption doesn't actually happen. So, there's this initial acceptance when the change management plan is initially rolled out. But then after the implementation of that tool, the leaders really struggle with its use. It's not being used at all. They're just defaulting to the former tool, or it's not being used in its intended manner. So, this switch-cost idea makes a lot of sense because that initial acceptance is sort of this, "Yeah, okay." And then there's this recognition of, "But I'm so comfortable doing this thing. I don't want to actually learn how to do this new thing." I was just kind of putting it in the-

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: Perfect.

Sarah Nicastro: ... context and thinking about how much sense it makes. Okay, sorry.

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: Yes, you're absolutely right. And some of that is needing time, but there are a couple of other things that leaders can do in that case. First of all, is making sure, "Is everybody clear, first of all, of what we're trying to do? Does everybody get it? Fine." The leader can think about and make room for, "Okay, as you adopt this new tool, what concerns you, or what excites you? Also, what might be gained, or what might be lost?" Giving people a chance to say, "I like doing this. I was an expert. I could do my job very easily. And now, depending on what some of those metrics are that people will be measured ... You have to make sure they're not being penalized for taking more time or having to learn a system. So, it's really looking at the whole reward mechanism.

And oftentimes, it's like, "Yeah." And it's the leader simply saying, "You're right, you're right." And just making some room for that, "It's hard to not be the expert anymore, and it is hard to take longer." So, a lot of times, the leaders has to just acknowledge, "Yeah, you're right." And there's not much more to do about that, again, except, "Hey, do you want to walk through this together? Should we try it and see what it's like?" And then giving the person more time and, as we said, trying to reward them and encourage them for struggling as opposed to being perfect.

Sarah Nicastro: Makes sense.

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: Humans, right? This is a thing. We're dealing with humans. Two other things, and they all kind of flow together. Number four is the analytic versus empathetic networks in our brain. This was a huge light bulb going off for me, and it gets to the heart of what you're talking about, the project versus the people aspects of the change. The analytic network is those groups of systems in our brains that are responsible for analyzing data, looking at timeframes, putting specific actions together, getting things done. It's planning. It's all of that stuff. Most organizations reward for analytic network activity a lot. The other part is the empathetic network in our brains. Two major functions here. One is it allows people to almost pull back out of the details and see the larger, broader picture, which is a lot where you can see patterns. It's where innovation comes from, the ability to pull out and think about doing things in new ways. The other thing is it enables us to be tuned into the verbal and non-verbal cues of people. The kicker is when one of those is active, it suppresses the other. And so hence, when we're very focused on a project in getting something done, we are not able to attend to the human side of change, which why the best leaders who do this really almost have to specifically imagine they're putting a different hat on, and they have different questions.

Even in groups when we were meeting, doing training around this, and we were having leaders, service leaders in particular, practice, we would assign, "Okay, your job in this conversation is simply to wear the people-hat. You put yourself in the role of people. What are you thinking and feeling?" And they felt permission to do that while everybody else was focused on getting it done. That's really critical. And then the fifth is optimism. And I hope this makes people feel good. For me, earlier in my career, I used to sort of roll my eyes at optimism or positivity because it just didn't seem serious. Now that I'm a complete nerd when it comes to brain science, it's, again, helped me so much appreciate that, again, we went back to ... Because our brains are tilted towards the negative, actually, some say we give three times more psychological weight to the negative than the positive. Again, you can understand our bodies are trying to keep us safe. But when it comes to constant news and things that make us feel very anxious, unless we specifically try to scan for the good, we are always going to fall behind.

In this case, practicing optimism would be getting your team together and imagining a positive future, imagining a positive outcome, really taking some time to think about what's happening, what could be really beneficial for clients even in the short run, if we're struggling. It also is taking time to celebrate that movement towards adoption. Even if it's like, "Oh my gosh, I did this. It was the complete failure" It's still, "Congratulations. What can we learn from that? I so appreciate you making the effort. It's wonderful. What can we learn from this?" And then it's also celebrating more of the traditional successes. I'll stop there.

Sarah Nicastro: That makes sense. I'm looking at our outline and thinking we don't have enough time because I have so many extra questions. But I was thinking when you were talking about the analytic versus the empathetic ... I'm sure part of it is putting on those different hats, but I have to assume also people are geared in one or the other. And so I think I was just thinking about ... Clearly, I would be on the empathetic side, but that's not for this conversation. But I think on the flip side, there's a lot of leaders who aren't, and that's tough. And knowing that the people part is tougher than the process part, then it kind of exacerbates the challenges. The other thing I was thinking about when you were talking about optimism is you're working toward whatever this that outcome is. But we tend to focus so much on the end goal that we don't look for those positives all along the way. I'm just thinking about ... Going back to ... The second point was around ... Remind me. The second point was around?

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: Negativity bias.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes. Or maybe it was when we were talking about the switch-cost. But you said that you might not change anything, but that person just wants to be acknowledged. And so this is where this gets really interesting to me. I have a degree in psychology. That's probably why. But I struggle so much in talking with people about this because I think so much of where we go wrong is in really simple details. Do you know what I mean? When you think about acknowledgement, that person that's frustrated with that feeling of failure because they went from a process they know they could do in their sleep to something brand new that feels so, so hard, the frustration there, leaders sense that or are made aware of that. And they react in a way that is either panic or force rather than just acceptance and acknowledgement. And maybe all that person needs is to feel heard and feel validated that, "Yeah, I know. It is hard because it's new, and that's okay, but we're still going to do this because of this why for you."

And the same thing with the optimism, yes, you have this end goal, but work backwards from there even in advance and think about, "What are the realistic milestones that you can look for to celebrate so that people don't get so disengaged, waiting to get to the finish line?" It makes good sense to me. All right. Let's go back to your point about ... Communication is obviously a really big part of this. There's this need to have, you said earlier, a clear message, "Why are we doing this?" And I think one of the things we've talked about before is also acknowledging as a leader that the why is different depending on what stakeholder you're talking to. The why for the CEO is different from the why to the frontline worker, et cetera. So, you need to have this clear message. But you mentioned also that it's okay to be clear about what you don't know. Let's talk a little bit about that and this idea of clarity, compassion, and then, "Communication doesn't mean you have to have all of the answers.”

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: We hope in organizations, but I still hear that it doesn't happen, that the organization is providing their leaders with some information, enough information that starts to answer some key question, "What's changing, why is it changing?" And maybe, "What happens if we don't change? What are the actions and results? What are we trying to get to? And then what are the benefits we're hoping to achieve?" Now, many organizations will have answers to some of that, but in a much more sort of big picture general sense. It's up then to the change leader to take that information and really be able to answer the questions for their people in a way that's relatable for them. If there's one piece of advice that all of this boils down to is take some time before you talk to your folks about a change and simply put yourself in their shoes, and say, "If I was in their shoes, what would I need? How is this announcement going to land? And what might I need to adopt? Even if I'm resistant at first, that's okay."

It's thinking about, first of all, just the overall consistent basics, "Do you have that?" And if you don't, go to your leaders and ask some of those questions. Then it is, "Okay, I'm going to communicate this to folks. But before I do, I'm going to take some time to anticipate tough questions or reactions they may have so I am not surprised." And then it is going to be okay. But it involves a mindset shift because ... I know I can go in a bazillion different directions because of the overlap, but I'm trying to stay focused. If you think about what your job is in the different stages, first, it's just to announce the change, make sure people get the technical details enough, and then they can ask questions, and then they can have their reactions. So, you have to get into a mindset that says, "My job as a change leader is not to have all the answers. My job as a change leader ... I know I'm successful, is I can actually unearth a ton of questions I can't answer yet because that tells me I'm giving my folks an opportunity to engage and to get involved. I'm also trusting their wisdom and their knowledge. They're on the front lines."

And the problem is a lot of leaders are exhausted. They already feel like they're going to hear people being like, "Oh, are you kidding me? Another change? What about this? And this one still isn't working." And that's fair. And then it's like, "Okay, let's map this out. Let's talk about that." And it's giving 20 minutes. Now, what I'd like to say to leaders is, "It's okay." For instance, as soon as you shift your mindset that resistance isn't a problem, resistance is normal, this is what people do, that's cool. But resistance isn't a permanent state. And then over time, it becomes a different conversation. But at first, my job is to understand, "Do people have enough information now?" And then it is to make sure I ask questions if I have an expectation. That is, "Do you understand what you need to do differently?" Which is the clarity priority. We can touch on those in a minute. The clarity priority bottom line is, "Is everybody clear on what they need to do differently on a day-to-day basis as a result of the change?" That's usually the part that's missing.

A change gets announced, there's not as much conversation or clarity around, "Okay, now, what is it like to actually implement this change? Do I need new training?" And almost making room for, "Look, this is how it looks now, but it's probably going to change as we start to roll it out." And setting that expectation upfront so people don't think, "Oh, now, you're changing again. That must mean it was a problem." No, this is normal. I'm going to dovetail into the communication priority. Clarity priorities, making sure people are ... Really, they understand what they have to do differently. Communication is two-way. It's not just telling. It's making room to ask. And that's why I hope the book is helpful because I do outline conversations and guides for a ton of tough questions, including, "Am I going to lose my job?" Which is a big one that freaks leaders out.

It is all about, "How do you become curious and not look at somebody's negative reaction as either a total roadblock to your trying to move ahead in your analytic network and get things done? And also, how do you welcome it as good data?" It's important for me to know this. And so as soon as I go into curiosity mindset, I'm not defensive. I don't have to convince anybody. And then it's compassion, is really where I like to start. As I said, you are able to understand that resistance is completely normal, that my job here is to really try to put myself in that person's shoes, which I've got to say service people are so good ... The most successful ones all the time. It's what causes a lot of their frustration.

As I said, they love their clients. They feel like they really want to support their clients. So, how do you end up really allowing ... Put yourself in your person's shoes, but then allow them to put themselves in their client's shoes, and talk to you about what this is going to be like from a client or user experience perspective. We're talking about a lot here, but I want to make sure we focus down on that most leaders right now, they are already change leaders. They're doing it. So, the goal is, "Let's figure out what you do that works?" And if you're coming up against some particular problems or challenges, I'm hoping this book can make it easy for you to try a couple of things differently to get that change adoption,

Sarah Nicastro: That makes sense. I think this idea of, "It's okay to say I don't know." Also goes back to authenticity, which builds trust. To me ... I'm probably more skeptical than some, but the worst thing someone could do if I ask a question and they don't know is to make something up because I will just smell the BS and just walk away, rolling my eyes. And that disconnect is what you want to be avoiding. You're better off just being honest and transparent, "I don't know, but let me find out. I don't know. I'll come back to you. I don't know. Let's whatever." So, it almost is part of the compassion piece for me of-

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: Totally.

Sarah Nicastro: ... "Don't let your ego make you feel the need to make things up. It's okay to not have all the answers. It's better to not have all the answers and figure them out together than to pretend you do if you don't." Now, you mentioned some of the tough questions. I want people to get the book and read the book. So, we don't need to go through all of the examples, but-

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: I'm happy to.

Sarah Nicastro: What is the advice on ... Obviously, you should anticipate that you will get some, but how do you navigate those tough questions or those moments of extreme resistance without taking it personally or losing focus, confidence, energy on where you're trying to get to?

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: I think the whole point is these conversations are hard. So, what I like to say is it's not that you're ever maybe going to feel great about having these conversations or that you're going to like them. It is, again, shifting a bit to be able to tolerate the discomfort. And most people that I have found, they build the skill over time. And then they start to have a couple of things, which is what's in the book. So, let's talk about that. The first thing is it's normal. As soon as you shift your mindset that somebody's reaction or tough question is not a barometer of my change leadership ability ... And it might not even be a barometer that they're resisting change or not. Resistance is simply concerns that haven't yet been addressed. So, if you can shift to that, that often helps again ... As I like to say, as soon as we trigger curiosity in ourselves, that oftentimes alone reduces our own anxiety. In the brain, there's a different emotion that's now in line in your amygdala, and it's not fear or anxiety. That's one.

Two is if I've taken some time in advance, given what I know, and prepared for some tough questions like, "Why do we need to do this when everything's going so well?" Or, "I'm already overwhelmed." Or, "Am I going to lose my job?" Or whatever. [inaudible 00:31:22] you take some time in advance, there are ways to handle that. What I like to say to leaders is across the board, the one tip that will really help is, "Stop thinking you have to give an answer right away." And again, we think about where I should be asking more and telling. If someone clearly is coming forward with a question that's very clear that they just have the wrong information, then yes, tell is like, "Hey, let me just make sure I'm clear." Oftentimes, it's simply playing back, which is what service people are trained to do with clients, "Let me play back. When I just want to deescalate conflict, let me play back what I hear you saying. Okay, great. Yes, boom."

If there's more of an emotion behind it, telling can start to get into a debate. That's what you're trying to avoid. First of all, as you know this, you can say something like, "Hey, that question makes sense. I think I understand why you're asking it, but I'd love to get some more information. Why is that coming up for you now? Or can you give me some more information?" That does two things. It enables the person to sometimes even get clearer on what it is, especially if there's emotion involved. And so it could be, "Hey, what are you concerned about? I think it's this, but tell me more." So, the leader is simply there, helping the person get to the bottom of stuff. But that does require in that moment, that the leader has already kind of come into it and said, "Okay, I'm going to take off my analytic network hat. I'm simply going to put on my empathetic network."

Now, you had said you are probably more geared towards having a preference. Me too. That said, when my brain is focused on a goal, I'm on a tight timeframe. I got another meeting coming up. I'm in my analytic network. And so I'm going to be much more likely to tell. So, part of it is being very clear in this conversation ... This may be a tough one. So, I'm going to have some notes. I'm going to have a couple of questions I can ask back, and then I'm going to make sure I take time. And if we're running out of time, I'm going to say, "Hey, let's continue this." But the whole point is can you ask a couple of questions first, let the person talk a minute and then say, "Huh, that's a great question. If I was in your shoes, I could understand why you're asking it. Here's what I know right now, and here's what, still, we don't know."

The other thing that's really tricky here, and this goes back to the neuroscience concept of uncertainty, oftentimes, it's hard for people when, again, change wasn't their idea. It's being foisted on them to feel okay about moving forward if they don't have all the answers, but leaders and frontline people. Oftentimes, it's important for the leader to say ... If they are not able to answer a question, be very clear about, again, "Great question. I can understand why you're asking it. We don't have an answer now. Is not having an answer preventing you from doing your job right now? And if it is, listen, that's good to know." But oftentimes, people just don't like not knowing, and they'll feel bad about it. They'll feel uncomfortable. And that's important for leaders to say, "Look, I totally get it. Your question makes perfect sense. Here's my commitment to get you an answer. But I think in the meantime, you'll still be able to do these things even if it's uncomfortable. Am I right about that?"

So, it's just always trusting your people that they're trying to do the best they can with the information and pausing for a minute, and just simply joining them. Doesn't mean agreeing. It just means, "I'm going to be present enough for you for these next 10 minutes just to make sure I'm getting what it is that is important to you.”

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I think that distinction that acknowledging emotions does not mean agreeing with them is a good one because people want that acknowledgement. They want to feel heard. That doesn't mean you are agreeing, conceding. It's just a matter of allowing them to feel that way and feel heard, and then to your point, finding the solution. Okay. One of the things I want to talk about is change fatigue. We have had a whole lot of it over the last few years. I think service, we had a big push of digital transformation and technology change. We've had changes in, "What are customer expectations, and how do we shift service delivery or business models to meet those needs?" And then obviously, the last few years, that's all been compounded by changes as a result of the pandemic, et cetera. What are the thoughts on change fatigue and how it factors in both for leaders and for employees?

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: I think you said it beautifully. The question is, "What is it that will help both employees and leaders when it seems like there's no relief really coming?" And so part of that is, first of all, understanding that this idea ... Let me say this another way. As soon as you understand that our brains are automatically tilted to the negative, that's really important information. Once you understand that, you're able to stop and pause, and stop thinking that just because your brain is saying, "Oh my God, there's something wrong. There's something wrong." Doesn't make it true. And this is the most important thing. 100% of my clients are overwhelmed and exhausted. And so the first thing we have to do is help them understand, "You are in habit." Most people's brains are in the habit of anxiety, and it's exhausting because we are not built to constantly be in fight or flight. We also know ... Little more neuroscience research, that there's been research done about ... They put people in MRI machines. They flashed images. They were trying to understand, "Is there a difference between something lodging in what we call the unconscious brain, which is more of the inner brain versus the outer brain? And yes." What they discovered was people's amygdala could be lighting up and flashing, and reacting to stuff in the environment even though their conscious brain wasn't recognizing it.

So, the first thing for leaders to understand is you have to take care of yourself. And that may mean not giving yourself access to all this bad news. It's allowing time for quiet, and it's allowing time for reflection and honoring your state. That's one. Two, it's then saying, "I'm in the habit of bad news. I'm in the habit of telling myself the worst case scenario is going to happen. I'm in the habit of focused on fixing problems. I'm in the habit of catching people doing things wrong. I'm in the habit of criticizing myself." Once you see how tilted you are to the negative, then it's figuring out, "Are there one or two things I can do that bring me joy?"

And all good change leadership, which is basically good leadership, starts with you. So, start with yourself and say, "How am I feeling about this change? Does this exhaust me? Okay, I need to take a moment and honor myself, listen to my concerns." I have tips in the book for, "Hey, if this is your concern, here's a way to reframe it." It's not ignoring it. It's not acting like it doesn't exist. It's just searching for a more empowering, optimistic way forward. Again, it's so hard for people because we think the negative is more real or more true, and it's not. It's simply our scalps working over-time of all the things that could go wrong to try to protect us. So, it's developing a new habit. Once you do that, that even alone, to start to scan for the good, to see things that are going well. Even if it's a little thing, that builds energy and resilience. The other thing is people being really clear, and you can do this with yourself, and then with your people.

And again, I used to roll my eyes at this, but not anymore after both experiencing the magic and power as a leader of using this, is strengths. What that means is, "I am clear myself, as well as my people. We know the activities that we love doing, that energize us. Doesn't mean we're going to do them all the time. It's just, "We all know." They might be a little different, so we can leverage each other when there are things that drain me, somebody else might want. Now, that's different than a skill. For instance, I'm good at PowerPoint. Thank goodness, I can do it right. It's a skill. I don't love it, but I can do it. Versus Excel makes me want to poke my eye out. That drains me. So, how do I find people who love doing that? Let them do it. Part of this is honoring on your team, "Are people more often than not doing activities that they love, or are they doing activities they love, but the organization is making it so difficult for them?"

And then how do you as a leader focus on a couple of things and practice shared leadership with your team, which is saying, "Yes, let's figure out what are the obstacles right now that we're facing? What are the things we can fix or at least speed up? And what are the things that we can't do anything about right now. It's just where the technology is at. And so what can we do to make sure we all are taking care of ourselves?" And then it's celebrating success, as you said. It's a little thing. It's a little thing. And in the book, I have a framework called Great Job 2.0, which really is most people ... Because again, we're so focused on solving the problems. Again, we're paid to do that. That's great.

But Great Job 2.0 is simply like, "Hey, let's take 10 minutes and have a conversation about what went really well, what enabled your success. Here's where I saw you shine. Thank you so much. Well done, you. And what success do you want to preserve that we can take forward? Hey, can we do this in a team conversation so we can celebrate together? Who else helped you?" It's these little things that are like 20 minutes. It's, again, changing some habits, and then also really asking your team what they need, trusting the wisdom of your team so you as a leader, aren't working so hard.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I think that there's so much of this that I think is really impactful. But the whole time you were talking about the fatigue, it just made me think of how very, very important it is to really believe in the need for and the power of that optimism because I think there's a lot of people that ... Like you said earlier, there's a point in your career where you would've rolled your eyes. I think a lot of people feel that way. But when you think about not only what you're saying about how the brain is wired, but the realities of the negativity that we have all experienced and are experiencing, there is a need to bring more of that to the table. Whether it's big things, little things, personal things, team things, I think that there is a real responsibility for leaders to take that seriously and to think about how to harness that power to offset not only change fatigue, but a lot of the realities that they're facing today. It doesn't erase at all. But if that's something you can do without spending a ton of money, without exerting all of your time, that can offset some of that. Why would you not? Right?

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: Exactly. It's usually just learning about it, is what you've said, because a lot of it is leaders taking a minute and just asking themselves first, "What's stopping me from doing this? Is it a knowledge thing? Do I know how to do it? I'm not really sure I buy it." And that matters. If you don't buy it, okay. But you don't buy it probably not because it's not true. You don't buy it because you don't know enough about it yet. I learned this ... Again, I was lucky being at ADP, and then we bought the Marcus Buckingham company. Marcus has been amazing in the work he's done with Gallup and the research. Really, the couple of key questions that are the things that he's focused in on, data, after data, after data of the most engaged teams are, one, "I get a chance to use my strengths every day at work." And two, "My teammates have my back." Is a big one. Another one is, "I'm clear, basically, what's expected of me."

We talk about all of those, compassion, clarity, and communication. And again, the leader doesn't have to all of a sudden ... I think in our mind, we go to black and white thinking, "I have to become a cheerleader, and oh my God." No, you do not. You simply just have to find your own authentic way of saying, "Well done." But the other thing that really gets in the way of this is people, themselves, feel weird acknowledging their strengths and what we know ... And you've probably seen this as well, when they've done the research, joy is one of the least trusted emotions at work. And again, it's like, "Wow, we have all been conditioned that we have to be miserable." And this is what's changing now. The external world used to be a lot more comfortable to go out there and get some feel-good. It's not as much like that anymore.

And so what's happening is many people now, I believe, are truly being directed inward, and we need to find these senses of joy, whether we get it from a partner, an activity, nature, a pet, just those moments of joy. Our brains need to spend at least 20 seconds in that feeling of feel-good, so it actually chemically makes a difference as opposed to the rampant anxiety that is nothing more than a thought or an emotion. It's not real, most of it.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think too, the other kind of excuse that I could foresee leaders having is, "I'm just too busy. I'm too busy. Even if I say I get it, I'm too busy to make time to celebrate small wins because I'm focused on this big thing." And I think what we're talking about today is really the argument that it's too important not to. When you think about the intersection of how leaders are leading, and like you said, really every leader is a change leader, and then the issues that organizations have with retention and recruiting, and company culture, and employee experience and satisfaction, this is what a lot of it stems from. We can't just continually drive, drive, drive. People have to feel some sense of reward and connection to what they're doing, which comes from leadership. Super interesting.

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: Could I actually follow up on-

Sarah Nicastro: I think this is ... Yeah, go ahead.

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: I want to follow up on that because listen, I honor and fully believe ... And trust is wisdom. A leader saying, "I'm too busy." And so all I would say is, "I totally get it. I'm sure you are." There's no need to argue with that. If you're getting the results that you want with your current approach, that's great. If you're not sure and you really feel too busy, again, talk to your team. Ask your team, "Hey, I'm considering this, and I know we're all tired. I would love to hear from you all." So, leader doesn't have to do any more work. Maybe there's somebody on your team who's like, "Actually, I have a story of when this really helped me, and I'd love this." But it's making it safe for the team. And so again, it's simply saying, "Try and experiment." You don't have to, again, change who you are. You can do your, "I'm not sure I believe this. I'm reading this book. Do we want to talk about it and try it? Are we all rolling our eyes? And if we don't want to do it, then don't do it." [inaudible 00:49:18]. But that's what I say about shared leadership and, "Don't work so hard as a leader.”

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. Okay. Any final thoughts? I guess one final question I have would be, if you were to want to surface one major misconception you feel leaders have about how to handle change or navigate change, what would it be?

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: I think it is that resistance is a problem. I think in that one thing, simply shift to say, "These are just people with good brains. These are just being good humans, and how do I look at it? Oh, probably some really good information there." And now, I can become curious as opposed to being like, "Oh my God, there's that difficult person again." And they may be a difficult person. I'm not saying they're not. But if you can be like, "Oh, I trust you. You tell me. What do you think?" And just ask a couple questions, that really could change a lot.

Sarah Nicastro: And expecting it instead of having an unrealistic expectation that you won't get it, knowing it's normal. It's not a reflection, like you said earlier, of a failing. It's not personal. That makes sense. Okay. All right. This is the book. Tell everyone where they can find it. That was my Vanna White moment.

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: Well done. It's on Amazon. You can get it through IndieBound, Barnes and Noble, an audio book's coming soon. But that's where it is. And also, if people want more information, they can go to my website. I do this work because I'm a nerd. As I said, I love it. So, executive coaching, if leaders want some training, it's there too.

Sarah Nicastro: That's awesome. I love people that love what they do. It makes me very happy. Okay. Excellent. Elizabeth, thank you so much. I'll make sure the links for the book and for your website are in the podcast show notes. I really appreciate you coming. I could easily talk to you for another few hours. So, maybe-

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: Me too.

Sarah Nicastro: ... we'll be lucky enough to have you back sometime.

Dr. Elizabeth Moran: I would love that, Sarah. Thank you for the opportunity to connect with your listeners and you.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. All right. You can learn more by visiting us at I want to remind everyone that we recently launched the Future of Field Service Insider, which you can now subscribe to. That will make sure that every other week, you receive the latest content we have published directly to your inbox, along with some exclusives. We also recently announced the 2023 Future of Field Service live tour schedule. We will be visiting six countries this year. So, have a look at the website to see where we will be and sign up for the event nearest you. Ah, the Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at And as always, thank you for listening.