Diego Horcajada, November 2017
It is now over one month since I embarked on the Sustainable Business Program with the University of St Gallen. When I first had the idea of this blog, I had in mind a platform to share my learning on the world of sustainability in my journey to find a sustainable balance between my personal and professional values. I realise now that if I focus only on the technical learning, I would miss the most powerful engine to create a movement or drive a change: the emotions.
Individual emotions are at the root of beliefs and behaviors. Understanding our emotions, how they evolve and manifest themselves, can be a powerful tool to leverage the potential we all have inside.
As part of the second module of the program on Sustainable Business (Project Consulting Methods and Leadership for Change), project teams were given the opportunity to explore our personal beliefs and behavioral preferences. To do so, we made use of the tool “cultureQ”, a sort of table game where participants are exposed to powerful questions that inspire a deep-dive in the foundations of one’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviours.
I’ve done this type of exercise in the past, but on an individual level. For example, I have used the TED talk from Dr. Brené Brown about the “the power of vulnerability” to reflected on my fears. I am certainly a strong believer in Brown’s message about how the personal defensive barriers we all have to, in Brown’s words, “hide emotions we want to avoid, such as fear, shame, and uncertainty,” prevent us from showing the best of ourselves in our professional and personal lives.
Being a strong believer does not mean I master Brown’s teachings, but I would like to share a personal experience and the results of trying to put Brown’s teachings into practice in the professional environment: In 2014 I came back to Nestle HQ after 9 years of career development in the supply chain area of Nestle at the market level. I was appointed as Business Excellence Manager for Customer Service process, and I did not have enough operational experience to have the credibility of my key stakeholders. I had to face my fear of not being the expert I was supposed to be, and be transparent with my stakeholders and their teams.
During the first month, I met all the members of the IT Customer Service department, as I would be called to collaborate with them many times over the next 2 years. With all of them I was transparent on what they could or could not expect from me, making clear that I did not have operational experience in the Customer Service function, but I certainly have a very good understanding of the supply chain in Nestle and I had practical exposure to many different market realities across Asia and Latin America regions.
In an environment where management and leadership styles were sometimes bordering on management by fear, it was certainly a good decision. I was able to build a very healthy and respectful relationship with the IT Customer Service department, and we finally succeeded to unlock two key projects for the distributor management and customer inventory management processes.
Coming back to the point of this post, my learning from the “cultureQ” exercise with my teammates, I have to acknowledge it helped me discover a higher level of trust and respect. A deep dive into yourself to accept you are vulnerable, to become conscious about your fears, to understand your beliefs, behavioral patterns and preferences is good, but doing it together with your teammates is a 40-minute emotional roller-coaster that brings you all to a much higher level of mutual confidence and mutual sense of responsibility. In just 40 minutes, I came from not knowing my teammates at all to feeling very confident we strongly complement each other and know each other’s strengths and personal constraints. Having such a mutual understating and awareness of each other’s preferences, behavioral styles, beliefs and fears makes us a strong team. I’m sure we will succeed in the project, we will learn a lot from each other, and I’m confident we will have fun on the way.
Many thanks for your interest.