A multigenerational take on connection & conversation in the world of work
Hosted by a Millennial, Gen-xer, and a Baby Boomer, On Connection takes on topics relating to organizational life, leadership, and how our quality of connection influences our ability to perform and feel personally fulfilled at work.
While topics around human connection have become more mainstream in the business world in recent years, it’s still a largely underutilized asset in organizations, and yet we know it is a critical leverage point for achieving results. A key part of improving our connections means honoring and valuing difference. We believe differences + trust = brilliance, so along with our generational differences, we will be seeking out various perspectives on topics related to life at work so that we can all be smarter and stronger together.
Our Latest Episode
April 12, 2023
Essentiality: An Undervalued Leadership Skill
Essentiality is a powerful skill that helps you be clear, with yourself and with others, about what is most important. When you practice getting down to the very essence of what you need others to hear from you, or what others need you to hear, that is an act of valuable communication and an act of care.
Roger Henderson joins Mickey and Emma Rose to discuss why essentiality matters and how to practice it.
March 29, 2023
Power & its impact on leadership, inclusion & value
Our current working definition of Power is “the capacity or ability to direct or influence others or the course of events.” Power impacts the way organizations are behaving, making decisions, and the conversations they’re having. It’s also something we aren’t often talking about explicitly, and beginning to engage with it consciously can reveal a new understanding of how we cultivate or diminish value, inclusion, and belonging.
How is power used or abused in organizational life? How do we each, as leaders and employees, understand our relationship to power? Are we being curious about how our use of power impacts the lived experience of others?
March 15, 2023
Engagement in Decline
According to Gallup, there has been a steady decline in employee engagement over the last few years, with only 32% of employees in the U.S. falling in the “engaged” category and 18% “actively disengaged.” Of the factors contributing to those statistics, most are not new concepts or surprising ideas. So, why is it that organizations still don’t know how to address the engagement challenge?
In this episode, Robin, Mickey and Emma Rose talk about what there is to learn from the story this new data tells, and what opportunities there are for inspiring greater employee engagement for the future.
March 1, 2023
Choice: The Victory of Commitment Over Compliance
Most simply, choice means “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.” In an organizational context, however, there’s a lot more to it than that. The opportunity and capacity to make a decision for oneself is an act of agency and autonomy, one that sustains a commitment to contribute to a shared purpose. We believe this opportunity to choose to commit to something is powerful, and an important ingredient in organizational vitality and employee engagement.
Robin Anselmi and Kell Delaney join Emma Rose Connolly to talk about why “choice” is an important characteristic of cultures that sustain organizational performance and employee well-being.
February 15, 2023
While there are numerous frameworks, processes, and methods to pick from, the best method is the one that gets you to have the conversations you need to have. The conversations ARE the work of decision making, and it’s through those conversations you generate alignment, increase shared understanding, create clarity around roles and contributions, and ultimately build cultures of trust and belonging.
In this episode, Robin Anselmi and Patrick Kennedy join Emma Rose to share what they’ve learned from leading, participating in, and supporting the work of decision making.
February 1, 2023
Design Your Time: Put Purpose Before Method
Time is something we all struggle with, and many battling stress and overwhelm feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. We tend to hunt for productivity hacks, time management techniques, and methods of working that will solve the problem, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Kell Delaney and Patrick Kennedy join Emma Rose for a conversation about designing our relationship with time, the distinction between efficiency and effectiveness, and how to manage improvement at an individual and team level.
January 18, 2023
Curiosity & Leadership with Dr. Debra Clary
Dr. Debra Clary began passionately researching curiosity a few years ago after being asked if she thought it was something that can be learned. Since then, she has become a thought leader on the connection between leadership and curiosity and has shared her expertise with over 10,000 people. She has discovered that curiosity is not only able to be learned but is a contagious state and a predictor of achievement.
Curiosity is key to evolution, innovation, and growth. It’s an innate human tendency and one that, when encouraged and tapped into, can generate new ideas, authentic connection, and engagement.
December 21, 2022
A Recession of Connection?
As leaders and businesses prepare for 2023, “recession” is on everyone’s minds. It’s a responsibility of leadership to consider what pressures and challenges may be on the road ahead. Holding the reality of uncertainty along with a hopeful vision for the future is a skill, and one that can be compromised if we allow fear to dominate.
Fear has a tendency to cause retraction – tightening of budgets, cuts of staff, yes, but also more generally in the human experience we do tend to pull away from others. Whether economic pressures worsen next year or not, what if the more imminent threat to our organizations is actually a recession of connection?
December 7, 2022
Love & Leadership
Talking about love in the context of leadership, organizational development, and strategy execution is not common, but we’ve decided it’s a worthy area of research. We have found that it is a uniquely human superpower, in a time when the human side of work is increasingly an area of strategic focus for business success. How would your approach to leadership change if you led with love?
Robin Anselmi and Michelle Wonsley join Emma Rose for this conversation – the first of a renewed exploration we’ll be sharing with you over the year to come.
September 28, 2022
The Art of Adjustment
Even when things are going well, occasions and mile markers such as anniversaries are a great opportunity to pause, reflect, and see what there is to learn from the experiment to date. Taking a moment to REVIEW what has happened and RENEW your commitments, intentions, and strategies means you move forward in a much smarter, more agile way.
Emma Rose is joined by Robin and Mickey once again to talk about why adjustment matters, when it’s the right time to adjust, and how to leverage those moments to cause even greater impact for your investment of time, money, and energy.
September 14, 2022
Collaborating through Stress, Uncertainty & Complex Challenges
Most organizations in the world are experiencing dynamic change and facing uncertain futures. At the same time, their people are stressed, overwhelmed, and facing dynamic change and uncertainty themselves.
Stress and uncertainty generally make human beings contract and pull away from connection, which can compromise collaborative efforts. In this episode, Kell Delaney joins Robin and Emma Rose to discuss the ways teams and leaders can move through these challenges and make progress on their important goals, leaning into connection and community for greater resilience and collective intelligence.
August 31, 2022
DEIJB: What Does It Mean?
Michelle Wonsley joins us for our second episode on Inclusive Leadership Design! This time we ask, what do we mean when we say the words “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice & Belonging”? They are so often used now, but are we on the same page about how we define them? And if we don’t have a common definition, how can we know we’re making meaningful progress in any of those domains? In this episode, we don’t come to specific definitions but offer some wisdom on how to approach your own community with a respect for everyone’s diverse views.
August 17, 2022
Sponsoring Responsible Autonomy
For many reasons, sponsoring an “ownership mindset” is a popular topic for organizational leaders. Increasingly, leaders want (and need) teams that can be self-supervising and take independent action in service of strategic goals. There are leadership behaviors that can help or hurt autonomy and ownership, which is what Mickey, Robin, and Emma Rose spend the majority of this conversation focused on. A common theme: leaders that drive connection and high-quality communication while making expectations explicit will be most successful at sponsoring responsible autonomy.
July 27, 2022
What is Culture?
This word gets used so often and is weighted so heavily in the working world today, we thought it wise to take a pause and ask… what is culture? Robin and Conversant colleague Katie Mingo join Emma Rose for that conversation, having worked with many leaders and organizations on projects relating to culture and culture change, and the role of leadership in cultivating workplace culture.
July 13, 2022
Inclusive Leadership Design
As the world continues to learn what works and what doesn’t with regard to DEIJ, Conversant is evolving into its own perspective and approach, which we are calling Inclusive Leadership Design. For this episode, we invite you into that conversation – what is Inclusive Leadership Design? How can we make DEI efforts more impactful? Who do we need to be, as leaders, to cause the change we want to see?
June 22, 2022
Get Re-enchanted with Your Work
For any working professional there are times engagement and motivation are down, and calling it quits sounds like a good idea. Before we start editing our resumes and looking for greener grass, we think it’s smart to try a few things that just might get us re-enchanted with our work.
June 8, 2022
Design Your Time: More Space, Less Burnout, Stress & Overwhelm
We are living through a time of massive disruption, and one of the symptoms is what many are calling an “epidemic of burnout.” The term burnout has been used increasingly over the last few years, along with other concerns around stress, overwhelm, and mental health. So much so that 4 in 5 organizations globally have reported that mental health and well-being is a top priority.
How we design our time impacts not only our performance and well-being but also the patterns of behavior in our organizations. Kell Delaney and Katie Mingo join Emma Rose for this episode to talk about what we’ve learned and observed about these trends, and some practical steps we’ve seen work to design more space into work, allowing for increased engagement, productivity, collaboration, creativity, and overall vitality.
May 25, 2022
The Power of Language
The work of linguists, sociologists, and psychologists reveals just how complex the science of language can be, but to be essential: it matters. It’s a powerful thing that we tend to take for granted. How we speak, what words we choose, and how we listen and interpret are all important parts of human interaction, especially at work.
May 11, 2022
Does LOVE Belong at Work?
Love isn’t something we often talk about at work. It falls in the category of soft, personal things we’ve traditionally shoved in a box and left at the door in order to be “professional.” Well, we think that when we leave love at the door, we’re leaving a whole lot of other valuable things with it. So, should we talk about love at work?
Our guest on today’s episode is Sara Heppner, a graphic recorder and facilitator with a passion for creative communication. Through visual and creative processes, she works with individuals and groups to cultivate awareness, nurture connection and create a world where all can flourish. Her new book, I Choose Love, was published earlier this year.
April 27, 2022
Expectations, Accountability & Trust
We hear from leaders and executives all the time that they want to increase accountability on their teams and across their organizations. Building cultures of accountability sounds like the right strategy for lowered supervision costs and increased efficiency and performance… but what does it mean to build a culture of accountability?
April 13, 2022
How to Be Heard
It’s not uncommon, both at work and in the rest of life, for people to feel like they aren’t being heard. Whether it’s your manager, your direct report, or your spouse, there are plenty of reasons for that kind of disconnect, and while it may feel impossible to get through to them, we think there are some basic principles of conversation and connection worth trying before you give up entirely.
March 30, 2022
The Younger Perspective: Millennials & Gen Z at Work
Gen Z, which is usually defined as those born between 1997 and 2012, is expected to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025. And they’re coming into organizations led by people from older generations who already have well-formed biases and expectations about them (including Millennials). While earlier in their career, the youngest members of our organizations bring a different view of work and the world, one we can get value from if we listen with an intent to learn.
March 2, 2022
How to Disagree
One of the hardest parts of human connection is managing disagreements. Disagreements are inevitable, at work and in the rest of life, and while it makes perfect sense that we tend to avoid and fear conflict, it can be really valuable. Mickey, Robin, and Emma Rose share what they consider to be the design of valuable disagreement, along with some practical steps for implementing it.
Feburary 16, 2022
Alignment vs. Agreement
Alignment is a term that gets thrown around a lot in leadership and org management, but how is alignment different than agreement? We think there’s an important difference, and hosting conversations designed for alignment not only increases value but will reduce disappointments, costs, and pain down the road.
Feburary 2, 2022
Practice Presence for Purposeful Leadership & Vitality
A leader’s ability to make a meaningful difference rises and falls with the quality of their presence. By presence, we do not mean charisma; we mean awareness. This awareness improves insight and action, but a lack of awareness assures that you are not fully connected to yourself, to reality, or to others—dangerous territory for a leader. Emma Rose is joined by Richard McDonald and Roger Henderson, two of Conversant’s resident “presence gurus,” to talk about why presence matters and practices that support greater presence in our professional and personal lives.
January 19, 2022
Change vs. Evolution: A mindset that matters
Change is a near-constant part of life, leadership, and organizational management today. We’ve found, though, that it isn’t actually enough to simply change. Instead, we think a mindset focused on evolution is more valuable. In this episode, Emma Rose is joined by Anne Murray Allen and Krista Spence, both Senior Consultants with experience leading, managing, and studying change. They talk about this distinction and what it means to adopt an "evolution mindset."
January 5, 2022
The Great Resignation: Facts vs. Explanations
The Great Resignation is just one of the COVID-era phenomena many people, especially organizational leaders, are concerned with right now. Everyone wants to know—why is this happening? There is a long list of possible explanations that have been given, but no single clear cause. In this episode, rather than analyzing the why we focus on how leaders can make decisions in the midst of pressure and uncertainty using a principle that can be applied across challenges of all kinds and scales: separating facts from explanations.
December 10, 2021
Achieving Interpersonal Flow
“Flow state” has been a popular area of interest since it was studied by positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi over 40 years ago. To experience flow is to be fully immersed in an activity, engaged to the point of hyper focus—being “in the zone.” While primarily studied in individuals, we started wondering—can you achieve interpersonal flow? Can a team be in flow? What can leaders do to make it more accessible for those they lead? Emma Rose is joined by Roger Henderson and Kell Delaney to discuss what we can do to encourage interpersonal and team flow.
November 17, 2021
Community: Why it matters & how to build it
Community is an important part of building vitality in organizations, or for any group of people that wants to achieve something together. We define vitality as “the capacity to live, grow or develop; the presence of intellectual and physical vigor; energy.” For organizations, we say that whoever masters vitality as a source of performance has an extraordinary competitive edge and provides a deeply satisfying life for themselves and the people they lead. In this episode, we focus on why community matters and how to build the kind of community that lends to personal and collective vitality.
November 3, 2021
The Conversations Are the Work
At Conversant we believe that conversation and connection are underutilized yet critical leverage points for achieving results. Whether it’s meetings, one-on-one check-ins, emails, or chat, studies show that leaders spend the majority of their workdays communicating. What if each of those conversations was truly valuable?
There is a design to conversations that drive value, and we can be students of that design, developing our conversational skills the same way an athlete works to get better at their sport. In this episode we talk about why focusing on the quality of our conversations matters, and the difference it can make on our work and our lives.
October 20, 2021
Joy at Work with Juan Mobili
Over the last year, we at Conversant have become fond of saying “joy belongs at work.” Not only do we believe work can be joyful, we believe joy belongs at work. These two words, however, feel counter to one another more often than not. How many of us describe our workdays as "joyful"?
Juan Mobili, leadership development consultant, executive coach, and long-time friend of Conversant, has recently reflected on joy in his poetry. Juan joined Robin and Emma Rose to explore this concept of joy a bit more: How is joy different from being happy? What is work without joy? How does joy relate to authentic leadership? How does joy contribute to organizational success?
October 6, 2021
Leading Through the Great Office Debate
Should we be remote? In an office? Is hybrid the answer? There’s no clear answer or one-size-fits-all solution, but we can learn from the leaders that are managing workplace policy decisions today.
This episode features three executives that have led very different approaches to this challenge: Chris Hanslik led an early return to the office for BoyarMiller, a Houston-based law firm. Kevin Hanes has been managing what a hybrid solution looks like for the cybersecurity platform Cybrary. And Sté Crispino leads Tribo, a Sao Paolo-based consulting firm that has always been remote, and she has a few things to say about building a strong culture in a virtual world.
September 22, 2021
A Multigenerational Perspective
In our first episode, we focus on why getting a multigenerational perspective on topics relating to work and organizational life matters, and the things we can be smarter together about if we allow each generation to mentor the rest of us in the ways they are uniquely able to contribute. We talk about how growing up in different times gave us different models for leadership and conflict resolution, and the silent biases we might each have about things like being in an office vs. remote work, hierarchical structures and power dynamics, mental health, and more.
New episodes every other week
Robin Anselmi / Gen X
Robin has a love of design that began with her early career in engineering, manufacturing, and financial services. She brings her practicality and process orientation to finding collaborative solutions with our clients. As CEO and President of Conversant, Robin is dedicated to changing the notion that communication and collaboration are ‘soft skills'. She is a strong advocate for connection (even love!) as the most powerful skill of leaders who want to see real and long-lasting business results.
Mickey Connolly / Baby Boomer
For over 25 years Mr. Connolly and his colleagues have explored how communication impacts coordinated action and organizational culture. Working in global commercial companies, police departments, and military organizations has led to a conviction: any group can achieve more with less time, money, and stress if they apply the “communication for action” techniques.
Emma Rose Connolly / Millennial
With a diverse background in B2B marketing, sales, psychology, hospitality, mental health, and wellness, Emma Rose is deeply passionate about what makes us human and the ways we connect. As the Head of Marketing for Conversant, Emma Rose manages from a strongly held belief that authenticity speaks volumes, and that there is magic in community and collaboration.