Fiona Deehan discusses how being a 'cára' or good friend can influence the wellbeing of your team, your family, and even your community.Download Podcast
As an Irish immigrant, living in New Zealand, Fiona always found herself having one foot at home and one in her new country. As Mary McAleese explains,"The immigrant's heart beats to the heart of two quite different drums". Such was the case for Fiona until she grounded herself in Christchurch by starting a family and having her daughter, Cara.
Now having a daughter to raise, Fiona was "prompted on a journey of personal & professional discovery" from which her company Cara Consulting was born. It was through this that Fiona's mission evolved; to help people and organizations "be the best they can be" by focusing on improving their wellbeing.
"If we could look more to what we share than how different we are, what a different world it might be"
Originating from the Gaelic word 'cára' which means 'friend', Fiona's daughter Cara prompted her to think about the example she was setting as a mother. Although she had worked hard throughout her life, from school studies to a working woman, Fiona admits that she realized that she had never been working in any particular direction. It was from this self-evaluation that Cara Consulting was formed. She wanted to take on the role of being the "good friend" whose mission it was to help people "realize their potential" and to allow people in a leadership role to understand "what it means to lead well". By placing leadership, wellbeing and learning at the heart of their service, Cara consulting has become that good friend to many people and organizations through personal one-on-one coaching sessions.
"I ask them to tell me their stories"
Fiona explains how in understanding a person's perspective and asking them what they need rather than what she thinks they need allows her to improve their ability to lead well. Although people often do not know exactly what it is that they need, Fiona asks them about the problems they are facing, what is holding them back from leading their team to achieve its goals and what it is that they are trying to achieve. In the insights gained from connecting to people in this way, Fiona enables them to become a better leader.
Sometimes, people don't quite know where they want to get to but they do know what's stopping them. If you give some space to these issues and then flip them to identify the opportunities people can find to work through them, their vision can then become more clear.
"Leaders create culture; 'how we do things around here' [which] influences the wellbeing of employees, or our community or family"
In a world where spontaneous yoga classes are seen as a key way to promote health and wellness in companies, Fiona teaches that it is the behaviour of leaders that creates a psychologically safe environment. She explains that if people do feel like they cannot be who they really are, or feel that cannot contribute, then we are creating an unhealthy, unwell working environment. By leading by example, and supporting people, then leaders, and everyone can create an environment where people can actually do their jobs well. If we can understand this connection between wellness and the role of leading a team, then "those people will take it home which influences the wellbeing of their families which in turn influences the wellbeing of their communities".
"The standard you walk past is the standard you accept"
Fiona points out that scaling these individual responsibilities of leaders to organizations of fifty or even five-hundred people "doesn't have to be really hard". Through "good policies and performance management", these values can be held up as values of the organization, not just to the select few at the top. By committing to holding ourselves accountable in the interactions we have with each person we meet throughout the day, then there will be a massive impact on the organization as a whole. In this way, we can bridge the gap between policies and practice, with each person making the necessary change towards wellness.
So, what's stopping you from making this change today?
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