Keep Leading!® Podcast 067 | Saving Face as Leaders | Maya Hu-Chan

Keep Leading!® Podcast 067 | Saving Face as Leaders | Maya Hu-Chan

Maya Hu-Chan
Executive Coach
Saving Face as Leaders

Episode Summary
Maya Hu-Chan is a globally recognized management consultant, executive coach, and speaker. Maya was an anchor for the China Broadcasting Corporation in Taiwan, former CEO of a nonprofit organization in California, a columnist for Inc., and co-author of Global Leadership: The Next Generation. She has trained and coached thousands of leaders across the globe. She is the author of: “Saving Face: How to Preserve Dignity and Build Trust.”

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Bio
Maya Hu-Chan is the author of Saving Face: How to Preserve Dignity and Build Trust (Berrett-Koehler; June 2020). She is a globally recognized management consultant, executive coach, and speaker. She is the founder and president of Global Leadership Associates. Hu-Chan was an anchor for the China Broadcasting Corporation in Taiwan, former CEO of a nonprofit organization in California, a columnist for Inc., and coauthor of Global Leadership: The Next Generation. She has trained and coached thousands of leaders from Fortune 500 corporations, nonprofits, and public sectors in North America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and Latin America.

Website
http://mayahuchan.com/

LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/maya-hu-chan-b160812/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/mayahuchan

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/globalleadershipassociates

Leadership Quote
“You become what you focus on and like the people you spend time with.” – John Spence

Get Your Copy of Maya’s Book!
http://mayahuchan.com/saving-face/

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Full Episode Transcripts and Detailed Guest Information
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Saving Face: How to Preserve Dignity and Build Trust

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 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 professional speaking, facilitation, and executive coaching.

“I don’t feel as if my boss appreciates my work. My colleagues don’t take my ideas seriously.” Have you found yourself saying either of those two statements or something to the like? If so, you have no doubt found yourself trying to save face, according to my guest today. What does it mean to save face? Why is it important and what makes it especially important for leaders?

Today, we will answer those questions and talk about why it’s important to save face. We will do so with Maya Hu Chan. Maya Hu Chan is a globally recognized management consultant, executive coach, and speaker. Maya was an anchor for the China Broadcasting Corporation in Taiwan and she was the former CEO of a nonprofit organization in California. She’s also served as a columnist for Inc and she is the co-author of Global Leadership: The Next Generation. She has trained and coached thousands of leaders across the globe and she is the author of the new book Saving Face: How to Preserve Dignity and Build Trust.

Maya, welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast.

Maya Hu Chan:
Thank You, Eddie. I am so excited to be here.
Eddie Turner:
I’m excited to have you. Maya, tell me what else should my listeners know about you and your incredible background?
Maya Hu Chan:
Well, thank you for this wonderful introduction, Eddie. I was born and raised in Taiwan and I live in San Diego, California. I have been working as an executive coach, leadership consultant, and speaker for many years and I’m also a writer. I love to share my ideas and particularly it relates to leadership development. So, that’s my passion and that’s also the reason I wrote rite this new book. So, I’d love to share more with you today.
Eddie Turner:
Well, I’m looking forward to learning more today. And I have to tell you you’re from one of my favorite places in the whole world, Taiwan and you live in one of my other favorite places, San Diego.
Maya Hu Chan:
Yes, I’ve been very, very fortunate. Yes, I was born raised in Taipei, Taiwan and in San Diego, this is my second home. I’ve been here for a long time. And I’m so glad that we have those two things in common.
Eddie Turner:
Yes. I must tell you I was originally from Chicago when I spent most of my life thinking that the Sears Tower was the world’s tallest building. And then you all built Taipei 101 which is a cool building. I got a chance to go in and I loved it.
Maya Hu Chan:
I know. That is a cool building, isn’t it?
Eddie Turner:
Yes, you all took away our title as having the world’s tallest building.
Maya Hu Chan:
Taipei 101 looks like a Chinese food box. So, yeah, it’s a very cool looking building.
Eddie Turner:
Yes. And it is a true metropolis where you can get some of the world’s best anything. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s in that building. It is awesome.
Maya Hu Chan:
I agree.
Eddie Turner:
So, Maya, congratulations on your new book Saving Face: How to Preserve Dignity and Build Trust. And before even opening the book, I quickly realized there’s a lot of weight behind this book. The forward is written by the world’s number one leadership thinker and executive coach Marshall Goldsmith himself. Other coaches and leadership thinkers such as Mark Thompson, Frank Wagner, Brian Underhill, Nancy Parsons, Sydney Bowman, and other CEOs have all endorsed this book. That’s no small feat. Congratulations!
Maya Hu Chan:
Thank you. I’m very grateful to have all these wonderful thought leaders and leaders to endorse the book. And I have known and worked with them for decades. So, to have their support and endorsement, it’s really something that I’m very grateful for.
Eddie Turner:
Yeah, I was thinking just to know those people is a big deal but to have them get behind your work, that says so much.
Maya Hu Chan:
Thank you. And most of them actually have a first-hand information and experience working with me directly, whether as a business collaborator and partner or my clients. In fact, many of the senior executives, the C-suite leaders are my clients. So, they have actually been working with me directly as a coaching client or in the leadership development programs. So, I have some really wonderful clients that I can go back to. We have maintained this long wonderful relationship for years and years. I’m just so grateful for their continuous friendship. It has been wonderful and very enriching to our lives.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. So, here’s the big question. What does it mean to save face?
Maya Hu Chan:
That is a big question, right? That’s the title of the book. So, I have been working with leaders around the world for over 20 years. And when I coach them and work with them about leadership, I often hear them saying that “Well, I have some challenges motivating my people and know I’m frustrated by lack of engagement” and people that often tell me that they’re burned out or they’re frustrated and they also are disappointed with the performance of their team or their employees. And when they voice a lot of those concerns and challenges as a leader, when you hear the term that the people often say “We didn’t have to bother about money.” When they use this term, it’s not about the money. The real issue is often about face.

So, what is face, right? Face is, in my book I’m defining it, is one’s self esteem and self-worth and face represents your identity, your reputation, status, your pride and dignity. So, face represents your whole person, okay? And so, when people often talk about those type of issues with their employees whether to motivate them or engage them or continue to support them and do the best work that a lot of times they really will not talk about financial aspect of the work. We often talk about do people feel appreciated, valued, and respected and do they feel that they are part of the team, do they feel included. And so, the quote that you used earlier, Eddie, about people are saying “Well, I often find my ideas are not being taken seriously” or “My boss doesn’t appreciate my work,” those are the kind of comments that I hear a lot from people’s use.

Eddie Turner:
Yes, those quotes came when out of your book, Chapter One.
Maya Hu Chan:
Yes. And so, when it comes down to it, it’s really all about face, that when people feel they’re not being respected or included, they lack motivation, they check out and they shut down. So, it’s so important for leaders to understand this concept of face.

Now, face is a universal concept beyond its origins in China, okay? And the concept of face speaks to a much deeper human needs for acceptance and for dignity and also talks about the ways that we grant dignity to one another.

Eddie Turner:
Let me just interrupt just for a second there, Maya, because you’re giving us a lot of good information. So, the first thing that you said is oftentimes you’re hearing leaders, all the thousands of leaders you’ve coached around the globe, and by last count, I think, you’ve been on every continent except Antarctica, if I’m not mistaken …
Maya Hu Chan:
That’s my next stop.
Eddie Turner:
I was impressed when I saw your client list but out of all these thousands of leaders across continents that you’ve coached, you’re saying that the primary issue you’ve seen has not been about compensation. That’s a staggering thought. You’re saying it’s been about this idea about saving face. And you defined that for us. And now you’re explaining why it’s important to leaders and you said this is a universal concept. So, I just wanted to make sure we highlighted those two because those are two highly distinct concepts and thoughts and I want to make sure we get that.
Maya Hu Chan:
Absolutely, absolutely. When leaders are working with people who are different from them, working with a very diverse workforce, and particularly in this day and age that we’re working across geography, across time zones, and also leaders often have to work with people from different cultural backgrounds, different generations, different genders and different personalities. So, given all those diverse backgrounds, a leader needs to be very much aware that they can’t run or operate like an autopilot, they can’t just treat everybody as they would like to be treated, okay?

Now, there’s golden rule, right? The golden rule is said treat others as you would like to be treated but then in this day and age that we’re working with people from diverse backgrounds, there really should be a different set of rules. Instead of treating others as you would like to be treated, you need to treat people as they would like to be treated and that requires the leaders to really understand the concept of face so that you can honor face, you can also save face, and you also need to avoid causing others to lose face. So, those are the three key concepts of face.

Eddie Turner:
Honor face, save face, and avoid losing face.
Maya Hu Chan:
That’s correct.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful! Now, what made you write this book? You alluded to it earlier but I wanted to kind of highlight that a little bit. You said you were passionate about leadership development but it has to be more that motivated you to do this.
Maya Hu Chan:
Yes, I find that this concept is very often misunderstood. Now, particularly in the Western culture, when we say this phrase “Oh, you know, he’s trying to save face” …
Eddie Turner:
Yes, we hear it a lot.
Maya Hu Chan:
Yeah. When people use that phrase, what comes to your mind? I think, usually, in the Western culture, we think “Oh, somebody did something embarrassing” and we want to save face, we want to avoid embarrassment. And that is really a superficial way of looking at it because if you look much deeper, as I said, face represent one’s dignity and self-worth and your identity and your pride. So, when people have interpersonal issues, when you have conflicts or when people quit their jobs or when your team members stop offering their ideas, there is something else going on than just simply say “Oh, there’s something potentially that they’re embarrassed or they’re unhappy about.” We need to go much deeper and say “What is it that caused those kinds of friction?” And, as a leader, we need to be much more aware of that. And if we can understand and master the concept of face, then we’ll be able to make connections with people and break down barriers and we can also build authentic, positive long-term relationship with people across cultures, generations, and all sorts of human differences.

I’d like to maybe explain what I mean by honoring face, losing face, and saving face.

Eddie Turner:
Please.
Maya Hu Chan:
Okay. So, first of all, honoring face, okay? Honoring face is literally about granting respect to the other person. So, honoring face are the actions that you take to show respect and admiration to one or more people. So, how do you honor face? There are so many different simple practical ways that you can do that to make the other person feel respected. For example, listen to them when they speak, ask them for their input and their opinions, and give them credit for the work they do. You express appreciation, you empathize with them, and you give their voice equal time and weight. There are so many ways that you can honor face by doing those simple gestures to really show that you care about them and that they matter.
Eddie Turner:
So, honoring face is showing dignity to other people. And you’ve just given us several ways we can do that.
Maya Hu Chan:
That’s right. So, by honoring face, you’re telling the other person “I see you, I hear you, and you matter.”
Eddie Turner:
“I see you, I hear you, and you matter.” All right.

Well, thank you, Maya. I’m enjoying talking to you. I’m talking to Maya Hu Chan, a globally recognized management consultant, executive coach, speaker, and now author of Saving Face: How to Preserve Dignity and Build Trust. We’ll have more with Maya right after this.

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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 Peter Margaritis, the Accidental Accountant, and you’re listening to the Keep Leading!® Podcast with Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:
Okay, everyone. We’re back. We’re talking to Maya Ho Chan, a globally recognized management consultant, executive coach, speaker and author of Saving Face: How to Preserve Dignity and Build Trust.

Maya, before the break you were telling us about what it means to save face, why you wrote the book, and you went to the concept of honoring face. Now, some may wonder “Well, what does it mean to lose face?”

Maya Hu Chan:
Absolutely. Well, losing face describes conditions where people feel devalued, humiliated or unappreciated. So, Eddie, when I grew up in Taiwan, I heard this very old Chinese proverb and it says that “Spilled water is hard to regain.” That’s a very old saying.
Eddie Turner:
“Spilled water is hard to regain.”
Maya Hu Chan:
Yeah. So, just imagine that if you accidentally knock over a glass of water and that you spilled water all over the floor, now, how hard is it to get it all back in the glass? Very hard, very hard. Now, even if you manage to get some of the water back in your glass, the water is not the same anymore. Do you still want to drink it? I don’t think so. So, what the saying means is that when we cause somebody to lose face by saying or doing something that actually damage that relationship, it is difficult to repair. So, as leaders as a human being, when we interact with other people, we should be thoughtful about our actions and our behaviors and always consider what is the impact from the other person’s point of view.

Now, losing face can provoke all sorts of negative emotions. When you cause somebody to lose face, it provokes shame, fear, guilt, vulnerabilities or other negative emotions. So, when people feel bad about themselves because of those actions that you take, it can directly impact how well they do their job and how much they speak up to share their ideas and even how long they stay with the company. So, the impact can be very profound. And you can cause somebody to lose face unintentionally, meaning that you may say or do something that you think it’s completely normal and you don’t think much about it but then it can actually have a profound negative impact on somebody else and you don’t even know it. So, that’s why we can’t always operate in autopilot.

So, for example, what are some of the things that can easily cause someone to lose face? Giving negative feedback in public, you challenge someone or disagree with somebody in public in a disrespectful way, and you fail to acknowledge somebody’s input or sometimes it could be insensitive jokes or very subtle insults or ignore somebody’s comments, interrupt them when they’re speaking and so much more. So, we may cause somebody to lose face and we don’t even know it, we don’t even realize it, and we don’t even know that damage was done.

Eddie Turner:
So, Maya is there a story in your book that illustrates either of these principles you can share with our listeners?
Maya Hu Chan:
Absolutely. I have a perfect story that happened not long ago. Let’s just call her Linda, okay? So, Linda, not the real name, of course, she works for a high-tech company and she manages a team where people are remote, many of them actually work in other countries or in other cities and she also has some people sitting right next to her in the same office but she used Slack to communicate with them all day long and even with people who are sitting right next to her. So, she used Slack to share information, she would assign tasks and she also used Slack to provide feedback, she would point out that somebody did something wrong or something needed to be fixed. Now, in her mind, that was a very efficient way to get things done, to communicate the information to her team. And what she didn’t realize was that the people who received those feedback were absolutely humiliated and embarrassed and caused those individuals to shut down. And what was even worse was that everybody else reading those comments, reading those negative feedback, what’s going through their mind was that “Wow, I don’t want to be in that person’s shoes. I better be careful. I’m not going to take any chance.” So, it didn’t take. She created this fear-based team culture that people are not communicating not, sharing their ideas or they’re not taking any risks and they’re not trying out new ways of doing things. So, there’s very little innovation and also people keep their ideas to themselves, there’s also not much of engagement and communication. And so, she was receiving some really difficult feedback during our coaching session. And this was the early on that she came to me and said “I have a team that’s not performing very well. I don’t know what’s going on.” So, when we reviewed those feedback, she realized that her communication and leadership style is causing people to lose face. And as a result of that, people don’t trust her and the engagement was very, very low. So, then she made a very, very concerted effort to stop giving those critical feedback in public through Slack. She would take all the critical feedback offline. And it took her six months to turn things around, to rebuild a trust and then to start honoring face and then providing positive feedback online and the negative feedback offline. And this has completely transformed the way she leads and she is more mindful and much more intentional with her actions and with her leadership style. So, that’s the example of how we can cause people to lose face and you don’t even realize that sometimes you may have the best intention, you didn’t think much of it but then you can have unintended consequences. So, that’s why I was talking about not operating on autopilot, that we have to pay attention. So, it’s like you’re learning how to drive in a foreign country that we have to pay attention to the signs, pay attention to every step in the way, where do you make the turn and if you’re not careful, you don’t watch it, you can crash and burn. So, don’t run on autopilot. In fact, in the book I have listed a lot of examples and stories and also some really practical tips on how to navigate this environment, particularly when we work with people that are diverse and also remote teams and how can leaders successful by honoring face and avoid causing others to lose face.
Eddie Turner:
All right. Well, that is a wonderful example to share. And this whole concept that you’re sharing with us today, Saving Face: How to Preserve Dignity and Build Trust, I think, it’s more important today more than ever and I think it’s certainly something that every leader and listener of the Keep Leading!® Podcast will benefit from.

What is the most important message you’d like to leave our listeners with today, Maya?

Maya Hu Chan:
Yes. I think what I’d like to leave with the listener is that you think about face like a new social currency in our world today.
Eddie Turner:
A new social currency, all right.
Maya Hu Chan:
Yeah. So, face is our new social currency. The more you have, the easier and faster you can get things done, you can accomplish things. So, face is like a social currency. We have to make more deposit into this account and continue to make that deposit to build a face and then also, if you have to make a withdrawal, then you already build up enough reserve that you will not damage the relationship in the long-term.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. Now, Maya, you are from Taiwan, as you mentioned earlier, and I happen to have listeners in Taiwan and in the Mandarin speaking world. Now, I can’t speak Mandarin but since you do, would you mind giving your key concept in Mandarin for our Mandarin audience, please?
Maya Hu Chan:
Okay, absolutely. I love to do that.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. And then can you ask them to keep listening and keep leading?
Maya Hu Chan:
Yes.
Eddie Turner:
Fantastic.

Now, I have no idea if you said it right or not. I have to take your word for it.

Maya Hu Chan:
Don’t worry. I didn’t use any bad words.
Eddie Turner:
But it sounds beautiful to me. So, thank you, Maya.
Maya Hu Chan:
You’re most welcome.
Eddie Turner:
Maya is there a piece of advice that you received that helps you keep leading as a leader or a favorite quote that you use?
Maya Hu Chan:
Yes, I have a quote in front of my desk that I look at every day and it’s a call from John Spence. The quote is that “You become what you focus on and the people you spend time with.”
Eddie Turner:
“You become what you focus on and the people you spend time with.”
Maya Hu Chan:
Yes. So, this remind me that I should always focus on things that matter and do the right thing, not just doing things right, and also be mindful about what I’m focusing on and who I’m spending time with.
Eddie Turner:
Very well said. And, Maya, where can my listeners learn more about you and connect with you?
Maya Hu Chan:
It’s easy. Go to my website. My website is my name, www.MayaHuChan.com.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. And where could they pick up the book.
Maya Hu Chan:
Well, that’s even easier. Go to Amazon. So, you have a choice of the printed version of the book or you can order the eBook or audio book. It’s all there on Amazon.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. Well, I’m going to encourage my listeners to follow you on social media on LinkedIn and Twitter, your book. Pick up this book, ladies and gentlemen. You don’t want to miss out on reading this to learn how to save face and help preserve dignity and build trust as leaders.

Maya, thank you so much for being a guest on the Keep Leading!® Podcast.

Maya Hu Chan:
Thank you so much, Eddie. It’s such a pleasure.
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 position or our title. Leadership is action. Leadership is an activity. 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.

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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.