Keep Leading!® Podcast 064 | Leading Remote and Diverse Teams | Inga Bielińska, PCC, MA

Keep Leading!® Podcast 064 | Leading Remote and Diverse Teams | Inga Bielińska, PCC, MA

Inga Bielińska, PCC, MA
International Executive Coach and Business Trainer
Leading Remote and Diverse Teams

Episode Summary
Inga Bielińska works with leaders across the globe who undergo change and struggle with managing remote and culturally diverse teams. She is certified by ICF and has more than 2500 hours of coaching experience. She is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and has written two books for leaders.

Check out the “60-Second Preview” of this episode!

Bio
Motivational. Passionate. Dynamic – these words are often used by my clients to describe my coaching style because, during sessions, I partner with them so they can achieve their leadership success. I am Inga Bielinska, an executive coach certified by ICF on PCC level. I have more than 2500 hours of coaching and twice as much corporate training experience.

I work with leaders all over the world who change, both organizational and individual, or struggle with managing remote and culturally diverse teams. During my career, I gained experience as a managing partner, business owner, consultant and a Board member in non-profit organizations, which allows me to bring hands-on, credible experience to sessions since I experienced the challenges of a corporate career.

I am a part of the Forbes Coaches Council where I can share my expertise in a Community and by writing articles. I wrote two books for leaders. The second one is shortlisted by a major Polish business magazine for a book award.

Website
https://ingabielinska.com/

LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ingabielinska/

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/ingabielinska.pracowniarozwoju

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/ingabielinska/?hl=pl

Leadership Quote
“Be curious, not judgmental.” Walt Whitman

Get Your Copy of Inga’s Books!
https://www.amazon.com/Efektywny-zespol-osiagnac-Strategie-budowania/dp/8377887789
https://www.amazon.com/Jeden-jeden-pracownikami-praktyczne-cwiczenia/dp/8380876032

Subscribe, Share and Review

Full Episode Transcripts and Detailed Guest Information
www.KeepLeadingPodcast.com

Keep Leading LIVE (Live Recordings of the Keep Leading!® Podcast)
www.KeepLeadingLive.com

Efektywny zespol. Jak razem osiagnac wiecej. Strategie budowania silnego zespolu

Jeden na jeden - odwazne rozmowy z pracownikami. Dialogi i praktyczne cwiczenia

Transcript

The key to sustainable leadership lies in the ability to thrive during uncertainty, ambiguity, and change. Grand Heron International brings you the Coaching Assistance Program, giving your employees on-demand coaching to manage through a challenging situation and arrive at a solution. Visit GrandHeronInternational.Ca/Podcast to learn more.

This podcast is part of the C Suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

Welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast, the podcast dedicated to promoting leadership development and sharing leadership insights. Here’s your host, The Leadership Excelerator®, Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:
Hello, everyone! Welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast, the podcast dedicated to leadership development and insights. I’m your host Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®. I work with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact through the power of coaching, facilitation, and professional speaking.

As we speak, overnight, our world has been transformed due to the global pandemic sweeping the earth. Many leaders have been pushed into working remotely. Some are doing this quite well. Others are finding it difficult to adjust. How can leaders lead remote teams effectively? How can leaders navigate uncertain times, especially by tapping the power of diverse teams? My guest today, Inga Bielińska, is an expert at answering those two questions. Motivational, passionate, dynamic. These are words used by clients to describe Inga’s coaching style. Inga works with leaders across the globe who undergo change, both organizational and individual, or those who struggle with managing remote and culturally diverse teams. Here with me today is Inga Bielińska.

Inga, welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast.

Inga Bielińska:
Hi, Eddie. Thank you for having me here. It’s a privilege. I’m a great fan of your podcast as well. So, to be here as a guest is a wonderful opportunity to share my message.
Eddie Turner:
Well, thank you, Inga. I’m a big fan of your work. I follow you on LinkedIn. I look at your videos that you produce and your other content. You contribute to the Forbes Coaches Console. So, I am a tremendous fan of your work and I’m excited that you’re here.
Inga Bielińska:
Thank you, again. It is mutual feeling, to be honest.
Eddie Turner:
Inga, tell me what did I miss about you and your background?
Inga Bielińska:
Probably, all of the reason why I’m dealing with what I’m doing, why I work with diversity and inclusion and remote teams in the first place because this is something I don’t put on my website as information but, generally, I think that I’m interested in those areas because I experienced all of this myself. So, during my managing career having being managing partner of consultancies, companies, being a board member of nonprofit organizations, I had the opportunity to work with multicultural and remote teams for many, many years. And I noticed that however most of people more or less know how to manage teams, if they are into management, it is really hard to work with remote teams and it is even harder to appreciate diversity in remote teams. So, first, my working experience and then my own private experience. I work and live in many different places. I used to live in the United Kingdom for many years. Now with my whole family, with my husband and my daughter, we’ve been living in California, United States, for the last two years. Originally, I am from Europe, Poland. So, this is as well as very interesting place because as a kid, I remember communist times in Poland. And 60% of the leaders I work with, they somehow remember, as me, or they come from post-Soviet Union countries. So, this European and Asian block of post-Soviet Union countries. So, these are probably two things which I would like to highlight in my own private and working experience.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. So, you are an experienced management consulting executive who is truly a global executive. You are originally from Poland, you said. You’ve lived in the United Kingdom and now in the United States.
Inga Bielińska:
Which is a very different experience, Eddie, to be honest. European way of working and lifestyle is very different to American and as well I really appreciate this time because it opened my eyes to many things I didn’t take advantage of while working with people from United States when I was located in Europe.
Eddie Turner:
For example.
Inga Bielińska:
For example, approach to things like what does hard work mean. Most of my clients, senior leaders here, work 60, 70, 80 hours a week which I haven’t seen before in Europe to such an extent. So, redefining what hard work really means is something I changed my approach to here. It doesn’t mean that I think it’s healthy. It just helped me to understand my clients from the United States better. If they say hard work, I now understand what they really mean.
Eddie Turner:
You know they simply really mean hard work.
Inga Bielińska:
Yeah. So, taking into consideration that a lot of European countries are socially supportive, you can say that, it’s like very helping states but as well the timeframe connected to work is much different. When I have clients from France or from Austria, they work in a completely different mindset connected with ours or German culture as well. Eight hours at work is eight hours. If you work longer, it means that you’re not efficient.
Eddie Turner:
This is very interesting.
Inga Bielińska:
It is. So, this is one aspect of diversity that the glasses, the lenses we use to look at each other and give ourselves labels. So, you can imagine the person from Germany and the person from the United States and their own judgment against what does it really mean to work hard.
Eddie Turner:
Yeah. And that would affect the attitudes in the workplace, right? So, if I’m working 10 hours and thinking that means I’m working hard, you’re eight, you’re looking at me saying “Oh, you’re not working efficiently” whereas I think that you’re not working as hard as I am.
Inga Bielińska:
Exactly. And I look at you and you work 10 hours and I think “Oh my god, you’re not efficient because you should be able to do what you did within eight hours of your work.” So, a lot of different things connected with approaches to time. That’s something which opened my mind but as well experiencing life itself. So, understanding the cultural differences in just by living in a place. You go to the store, experiencing shopping in Costco, for example, compared to a European shops is something “Wow! That’s something really big” and people buy in bulks, for example. So, I think that teeny-tiny things which you can notice only when you live in a certain place, I started appreciating it when I was living in the UK and then I wanted to experience it more with my family. Now, my daughter is big enough to travel with us. So, I hope it’s not going to be the last place we’re going to relocate as a family because I traveled a lot myself but, as a family, it’s the first experience we have here in the United States.
Eddie Turner:
So, tell me how did you become interested in remote work and this idea of remotely leading diverse teams?
Inga Bielińska:
Two things. First, remote work. Then diversity, if you like. So, remote work. My second degree was in teaching English as a foreign language. And when I came back after a few years living abroad as well teaching to Poland, it was, I think, 2005 or 2004, something around that, I started up my own business school and I was very happy. I had a great business idea. I was good at sales. So, I had a lot of clients and I had a team of around 14 teachers. And, somehow, I was surprised to see that despite the fact I paid them really well and I always had hours for them to work, my team somehow wasn’t very stable. I had very high turnover in my team and I was like “Oh my god, what’s going on?” And that was clear remote work because we didn’t have the office, people were traveling to the client side. So, it was remote cooperation. There were three different cities as well in Poland. So, I remember once complaining to one of my clients that “Oh my god, it might happen like this that the teacher will change” and we had a very good relationship with this particular person. So, I was a little bit more open about that. And he told me “You know, Inga, good business idea is not everything, especially when you have remote team here. You need to learn about leadership itself” and that was the eyeopener for me. I just got hooked into leadership, learning about that. Then becoming somehow involved in teaching others around this aspect. And to just shorten the story, I got so interested in working with people that I even did psychotherapy school, so somehow, I got so interested in what’s going on between people but that was my first experience. We can think that if we pay people well and we have a good product, it is so easy to manage them but it’s even harder in remote teams. So, that was my first experience.

Then, much wiser, I got involved with International Coach Federation – ICF – and I was the Vice President of ICF for two terms in Poland and I was as well involved in European, Middle East, and Africa board group. And that was as well remote team because you needed to first communicate in Poland with different sites from different cities but as well in the second board with different continents even. And I noticed that I learned a lot but it wasn’t enough because apart from remote cooperation, there were a lot of problems stemming from the ideas I had about different things which were not the same from my colleagues from different countries. And that was the other thing which opened my eyes. And I actually put an effort and I learned a lot about diversity and inclusion. I tried to understand first how people communicate and, of course, I made a few mistakes on the way. First, I thought that if I just master the idea of communication for a particular country, that would be much easier for me.

Eddie Turner:
So, you give us those two scenarios but tell us a little bit more about how you came to the realization and the steps you took to make the adjustments.
Inga Bielińska:
Okay. So, first it wasn’t a good idea. I learned about a particular country just to understand that “Okay, this is the country. This is the idea about the way people communicate in this country.” And it wasn’t helpful at all because I just gave them a lot of labels but then I started to first approach the idea of curiosity mindset. I don’t remember when I first learned about it but the idea was that first be curious. So, don’t assume anything when you come across a person of a different nationality, of different background but just be curious what makes them behave the way they behave. And it was somehow correlated with coaching itself because when you’re curious, you ask more questions. So, I focused really deeply on asking meaningful questions to my partners in business and partners in my ICF cooperation as well. And then I learned that if I am curious and I ask questions, everything is possible because it is so visible if you ask question from the heart and not from the judgment. And, as well, when I ask questions, it made others to be interested in my motives. So, it creates this kind of, I don’t know how to call it, but the momentum of curiosity between partners of conversation. And that’s something I work with leaders on.
Eddie Turner:
Momentum of curiosity.
Inga Bielińska:
Exactly. Momentum of curiosity because it is only possible when we first learn that we have biases. So, the momentum of curiosity. So, it’s some kind of flow between people who interact. And now that’s what I recommend. I don’t recommend to have these opinions about certain nationalities or groups like women are like this, men are like that or co-workers from India are like this or co-workers from Germany are like this. We know it. It’s in the back of our head but still, generally, you do business with or you cooperate with other human being, not the label. And this particular person, even if they are from a different country or different background, they can have their own unique qualities and you are open to this unique quality only when you’re curious and when you ask questions and when you’re as well eager to courageously, of course, to share your own reservations or your own fears or your own anxiety with the other person.
Eddie Turner:
Absolutely. Every leader should remain curious, ask good questions, and remain free from judgment.

I’m talking about Inga Bielińska. She’s a professional certified coach with the International Coach Federation, a Forbes contributor, and an international coach. We’ll have more with Inga right after this.

This podcast is sponsored by Eddie Turner LLC. Organizations who need to accelerate the development of their leaders call Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®. Eddie works with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact. Call Eddie Turner to help your leaders one on one as their coach or to inspire them as a group through the power of facilitation or a keynote address. Visit EddieTurnerLLC.com to learn more.

This is Phil M. Jones, author of Exactly What To Say, Exactly How To Sell, and Exactly Where To Start and you’re listening to the Keep Leading!® Podcast with Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:
We’re back, everyone. I’m talking to Inga Bielińska. She’s a professional certified coach with the International Coach Federation and a Forbes contributor. We’re talking about leading remote and diverse teams.

Inga, if a leader needs to focus on just one thing to improve their skills as a leader leading remote and diverse teams, what would that be.

Inga Bielińska:
So, from my perspective, this one crucial thing is ability to build psychological safety in the team by being curious. What I mean by that is that leader needs to understand that they all are full of biases like everybody else. And in order to be able to work with these biases, they need to be curious of others’ perspective, others’ mindsets, others’ fears and anxieties. And only this way, if they stay curious, they can build psychological safety of the whole team, which is very important when you work remotely and with people from different cultures and different backgrounds.
Eddie Turner:
Interesting. So, be curious. Is there anything else you’d add?
Inga Bielińska:
This is just like a trampoline, I would say. Curious is the first jump and then you jump higher and higher because when you’re curious, you’re good at listening. So, that’s another thing I would focus on, listening skills – how to listen the way that you’re just not only focusing on replying but understanding or even switching the perspective a little bit with your conversationalist. That’s the first thing, listening skills. Then asking questions. What kind of questions are the ones that will trigger like really deep conversation with others? We know that these are open questions but how to build this question that they are not judgmental or they are not leading but they really open up another person to talk to you truly. So, we have this trampoline – be curious – and then listen, ask question but, as well, if you are curious, you learn how to appreciate others even if they are challenging and difficult for you because you do not fully understand them. So, you appreciate everything about that. So, I would as well suggest leaders to educate themselves in the area of appreciation languages which they can use like spoken appreciation, written appreciation, act of services, help, quality time with people. There are many different ways leaders can show true appreciation to their peers and to their team members. So, when we start with curiosity, all of these ideas just appear and there are many different things I connected as well with language. If you are curious, you don’t speak like a victim, you don’t blame others or you don’t focus too much on external circumstances. If you are curious, you start with yourself and you ask yourself “How can I be a good leader today?” or “What’s the learning here for me in this situation?” or “How can I help this person today?” So, all of this starts with curiosity mindset.
Eddie Turner:
Well, you’ve given us a lot there. And just to recap, you said be curious, listen, ask questions and educate ourselves in appreciation languages. Do you have a resource for leaders who want to take these actions you recommended but don’t know where to start?
Inga Bielińska:
Okay. So, I can just share with your listeners one of the longest articles I wrote about the kinds of non-listeners and remedies to start to listen. It’s written both in Polish and English. So, I can share it with your audience. This is a very precise tool to first look what triggers me not to listen to others, first of all, and then what I can do about that, what behaviors, what actions can I take in order to truly listen to others. So, that’s one tool I can share from me but, as well, in terms of languages of appreciation, there is a concept of five love languages in couples and it is very easily switched to workplace. The language even I used – act of service, quality time, spoken appreciation, written appreciation – It’s taken from that concept. So, that’s something your listeners can go to as well. Five love languages, that’s something which, I think, can be very inspiring to all the leaders.
Eddie Turner:
Thank you for sharing those resources. We appreciate that. That will go a long way in helping listeners to take the steps that you have recommend it and having something to reference. And I like the fact you’ve got a copy in English and in Polish for my polish listeners.

How would you summarize our conversation today, Inga?

Inga Bielińska:
The first thing is just be curious. That’s the best summary for that but there is something which I would like to take out of our conversation and highlight even because it might not be so visible as I wanted it to be, which is very important. I started to talk about it – victim versus proactive player language. I think that most leaders who I work with have a very strong belief that being a leader requires certain things from the outside world like having a good team members or perfect business circumstances but authentic and true leadership thrives in hard times the same as it thrives in easy times. And I think that now it’s more important than before to remember that only a proactive player language in leaders, so not blaming external circumstances, can help you to be authentic and good leaders. So, instead of complaining, ask yourself “What would be the best version of my leadership today?”
Eddie Turner:
I like that. Yes, don’t be a victim. What is the best version of my leadership today? So, becoming a person who’s taking action. Thank you for sharing that.
Inga Bielińska:
You’re welcome.
Eddie Turner:
And this is the Keep Leading!® Podcast and on the Keep Leading!® Podcast, we like to share with leaders, in addition to the great content you just shared with us in this interview, a tip or a piece of advice you’ve received that you can share with our leaders.
Inga Bielińska:
This is actually a quote from a great American poet Walt Whitman, which I’ve been very fond of for many, many years – “Be curious, not judgmental” – and that’s something that, I would say, have been a motto of my work with leaders and with team members all over the world.
Eddie Turner:
Be curious, not judgmental. I like that.

Now, Inga, I have listeners all over the world and I have a lot of listeners there in Poland. Could I ask you to do me a big favor?

Inga Bielińska:
Of course.
Eddie Turner:
Would you give that quote to my friends and my listeners in Poland?
Inga Bielińska:
I hope that I don’t damage some nice translation because Walt Whitman was translated into polish. I’ll try to do my own translation – Bądź ciekawy, nie oceniaj.
Eddie Turner:
Excellent. Now, can you also tell them to keep listening and keep leading?
Inga Bielińska:
Słuchaj dalej i prowadź.
Eddie Turner:
Excellent.
Inga Bielińska:
Trust me that I translated it well.
Eddie Turner:
I have to take your word for it that you said that. If I get emails and letters or tweets, I’ll come back to you but I trust what you said.
Inga Bielińska:
I did my best.
Eddie Turner:
Well, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you today, Inga. Where can my listeners learn more about you?
Inga Bielińska:
I welcome your listeners to my LinkedIn profile. I’m pretty active on LinkedIn and this is the way I connect with my peers, other coaches, other trainers and consultants as well with my clients all over the world. Other place they can find me is my website but all the details are actually available through my LinkedIn profile. So, if you get there, just press the ‘Personal Info’ and you’ve got a phone number and a website and so on. So, everything what I write whenever on Forbes or whatever magazine, I somehow put it on my LinkedIn profile.
Eddie Turner:
Excellent. Well, I’m going to put all that in the show notes. I want everybody to know to reach out to you, get to know you, follow your work. You’re doing a fascinating work out there and I want you to keep leading the way you’ve been leading.
Inga Bielińska:
Thank you. It was really a pleasure talking to you, Eddie, as well.
Eddie Turner:
And thank you for listening. That concludes this episode, everyone. I’m Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®, reminding you that leadership is not about our title or our position. Leadership is an activity. Leadership is action. It’s not the case of once a leader, always a leader. It’s not a garment we put on and take off. We must be a leader at our core and allow it to emanate in all we do. So, whatever you’re doing, always keep leading.

Thank you for listening to your host Eddie Turner on the Keep Leading!® Podcast. Please remember to subscribe to the Keep Leading!® Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen. For more information about Eddie Turner’s work please visit EddieTurnerLLC.com.

Thank you for listening to C Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

The Keep Leading!® podcast is for people passionate about leadership. It is dedicated to leadership development and insights. Join your host Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator® as he speaks with accomplished leaders and people of influence across the globe as they share their journey to leadership excellence. Listen as they share leadership strategies, techniques and insights. For more information visit eddieturnerllc.com or follow Eddie Turner on Twitter and Instagram at @eddieturnerjr. Like Eddie Turner LLC on Facebook. Connect with Eddie Turner on LinkedIn.