A Path to Strategic Breakthroughs in Career and Business with Pati Froyo
“The right questions open an environment and culture of discovery, trust, and collaboration. Through this culture, inclusivity happens.” – Pati Froyo
I had the pleasure of speaking with Pati Froyo, a speaker, executive coach, and intercultural leadership consultant dedicated to helping leaders create strategic breakthroughs in their careers and business.
- How our mindset can enable or derail our careers and lives
- Recognizing leaders’ confirmation and cognitive biases
- Practicing intentional curiosity
How our mindset can enable or derail our careers and lives
We’ve all formed opinions and judgments around someone based on second-hand information before, whether positive or negative. A new boss rumored to be difficult, the new kid in school, etc.
Pati worked under one such trying boss and entered a new level of feeling questioned, disempowered, and anxious. “A few people had told me that he was difficult. I went into the role already tainted, already having this preconceived notion that when I started finding difficulties, I started reinforcing that narrative,” she explains.
Volatile interaction after volatile interaction, she was at her wit's end, when, in a bolt of inspiration, she asked herself a critical question: what if I wasn’t vulnerable in this situation?
“I completely changed my mindset and empowered myself from that point forward. This experience changed my life, it's amazing how quickly the whole world changed for me.” Pati shares, “The obstacles we face are, many times, the ones that give us the greatest opportunity for growth.”
Our mindset can be an enabler or a derailleur in our career and life. If we’re not intentional about what narratives we’re telling ourselves, we may go in the wrong direction.
Recognizing leaders’ confirmation and cognitive biases
Bias is everywhere. Forming affinity or negative connotations around experiences, products, and even people is a natural part of the human brain. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a responsibility to examine these biases and reevaluate them based on new information.
“A key thing for anyone as a leader is to have the courage to challenge themselves and their perceptions, and check if they have fallen into a cognitive bias trap,” Pati explains, “One example of a cognitive bias is one that I think people will be very familiar with, which is confirmation bias. And that is, essentially, we, as human beings, approach the world with a point of view, and we pay more attention to what supports our point of view, while we discount or don’t notice what contradicts our point of view.”
An example of a confirmation bias is stereotyping—neuroscience studies have proven that the human brain is wired for confirmation bias, no matter the environment. This element can cause friction in the workplace and beyond, as we’ve all seen and experienced.
“If anyone is in a leadership position, they rose there because they’re an expert in something, and this often leads people to be very prescriptive and to have a lot of desire to offer answers.” Pati explains, “Because they are the leaders, their organizations expect them to have the right answers. Many times, I asked my clients to experiment with having less of the right answers and having more of the right questions.”
The right questions can unlock answers and perspectives previously lost while grappling for answers.
Practicing intentional curiosity
Asking questions for the sake of asking questions isn't enough to reach the desired outcomes—there must be a genuine curiosity at the root of inquiry.
“I’m referring to honest, genuine, intentional curiosity, not what I call pretend curiosity—some people may use leading questions to reinforce their point of view or influence the conversation to convince others that what they say is the right way.” Pati explains, “I'm talking about real, intentional curiosity, the one that is the complete opposite of being judgmental.”
How does this type of curiosity show up in the workplace, on a team? If we’re looking to encourage the best out of our teammates and employees, we must open the floor to contributions and new perspectives without fear of ridicule.
“When we truly are interested in the well-being of the team, we really are curious about our people, and we foster this level of curiosity, what happens within the team is that they feel that they are welcome, we're giving them permission to contribute.” Pati explains, “And they don't have to be afraid of what kind of contribution they're going to do because we're just curious to hear their opinion.”
For an organization to be creative and innovative, we need to challenge each other constructively and respectfully—that level of curiosity and psychological safety in a team is when we have the best results.
What is something you may be overlooking as a leader? What assumptions do you have about certain people or situations?