Interview with International Keynote speaker and Trainer Cy Wakeman
Cy Wakeman is a dynamic international keynote speaker, drama researcher, New York Times best-selling author and trainer who has spent more than 20 years cultivating a revolutionary approach to leadership. Grounded in reality, Wakeman’s philosophy teaches people how to turn excuses into results and transform unhappy employees into accountable, successful members of the workforce. Through her prolific work with companies such as Bayer, New York Presbyterian, National Institutes of Health, Hallmark, Verizon Wireless, TD Ameritrade and Wells Fargo, Wakeman has helped eliminate tired, impersonal management techniques in favor of a reality-based revolution. In this month Expert Insights we got to discuss with Cy about her new book No Ego, as well as gaining insights and knowledge from Cy herself.

cy-personHello Cy, thank you for stopping by Activia’s Expert Insights section. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself for our readers?

I am a drama researcher, international leadership speaker, and consultant. In 2001, I founded Reality-Based Leadership and have authored three books: Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace and Turn Excuses into Results (2010); New York Times bestseller The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, and Will Make You Happier (2013); and No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement and Drive Big Results (2017). In 2017, I was named as one of the Top 30 Global Leadership Gurus by Global Gurus, a Top 100 Leadership Expert to follow on Twitter, and was deemed "the secret weapon to restoring sanity to the workplace."

You’re a huge influencer in leadership and have your own reality-based philosophy style of management, which is one of the reasons why you decided to create No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Big Result. What was it in particular that drew you to this topic?

What drew me to the topic was the fascination with how much time people were spending arguing with reality and how often our ego distorts that reality. Instead of calling people up to greatness, I quickly observed that conventional HR leadership practices caused more drama and fuelled entitlement.

For years now, leaders in almost every industry have accepted two completely false assumptions--that change is hard, and that engagement drives results. Those beliefs have inspired expensive attempts to shield employees from change, involve them in high-level decision-making, and keep them happy with endless “satisfaction surveys” and workplace perks. Moving from a therapist to a leadership role in a major medical system, I dared to lead my team differently, according to my training in psychology. We became very well-known throughout the nation for incredible results and super-high engagement despite less than perfect circumstances.

Who is this book aimed at and how will it help them?

This book helps leaders recognize their new role as a leader, Leaders’ jobs aren’t to motivate, engage, and inspire; leaders’ jobs are to teach people better mental processes by which they can eliminate emotional waste, upcycle people’s energy and time, and redirect that focus toward creating a better workplace and achieving business objectives.

We found the average employee spends over 2.5 hours per day in drama, arguing with reality, and this book gives leader practical tools they can actually use to recapture that lost productivity – billions annually in the workplace – and deliver it back to the bottom line.

Cutting workplace drama and tension is a key topic in many management and leadership help-books– what is unique about No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Big Result?

Ego-driven behaviours are the #1 source of drama in workplaces today, and it’s costing organizations billions annually. The philosophy of “perfecting the environment” to create employee engagement just feeds the ego and generates huge amounts of drama and emotional waste. Leaders need a modern leadership philosophy that provides simple tools and techniques to eliminate drama from our organizations, deliver up employees who say yes to what’s next, and cultivate accountability, not engagement, to drive big business results.

Can you give some examples of famous people (alive or dead!) who are great at using this reality-based philosophy?

One of my favorite influencers is Byron Katie. She is a great example of living a lifestyle of questioning your thoughts. Awakening from her own prison of depression and rage she now teaches people how to end their own suffering. She lives and coaches others that their stressful beliefs—about life, other people, or themselves—can radically shift and their lives are changed forever.
What would you say is the first step towards developing or improving a leader and their team to drive those big results?

The two most common pieces of advice I give are first to “stop believing everything you think.” Must of the stress and suffering in our lives come not from our reality, but the story we’ve made up about our reality. This ego-based story creates enormous energy drain and emotional waste (drama) – creating strain on our relationships and our results at work. The second piece of advice is to “work with the willing.” There is no shortage of highly accountable talent, there is only a shortage of highly accountable places to work. All too often, leaders spend an extra 80 hours per year with a person in resistance, with few results. While the leader is spending their time there, their high accountables are leaving for competitors. Here’s the good news, you’re going to make somebody upset at work – make sure your upsetting the right folks. Spend your time, love and development with the willing – the high accountables. Where your energy goes, results follow and so will your talent.

noegro-bookCan anyone learn these tips and become a successful leader by the reinvention of their thinking?

Yes, but first you must be willing. These Reality-Based / No Ego Leadership philosophies only work with those are all in and willing to interrupt their thinking. These tips and happiness, achieved through cultivating high levels of accountability can be achieved by willingly and frequently engaging in crowdsourcing feedback and taking time to self-reflect. You can find a list of question and assignments for self-reflection in my new book, No Ego.

What’s your most effective tool when trying to Cut workplace drama and end entitlement and why?

What I often find myself telling leaders, beyond working with the willing, is to use the edit your story tool. Most of what comes to me is a story, filtered by the ego, about their current workplace circumstances. The Edit Your Story tool helps folks get clear about what they know for sure. And once we can eliminate our story and focus on the facts, we can stop judging and start helping. Once we are clear on the facts and living back in reality, we realize it’s not so painful. The next best question then becomes, “How can I help?” or “What would great look like right now?” This last question, what would great look like, is so powerful, because “great” is the basis for which we judge others. We all know what great looks like – the next step is to act on it.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Imagine a world where you can separate your reality from your suffering, and in your current reality you can shift your energy from blaming your circumstances into reflection of what great would look like. Bypassing the ego enables you to live within the power you already have to be happy and successful no matter your current circumstances. The outcomes you desire simply live in a place on the other side of your ego and become your natural state when the drama is gone.

You can purchase Cy Wakeman's book  No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Big Result at Amazon.