La voix d’Isabelle Pujol
Isabelle Pujol is Founder and CEO of Pluribus Europe, a Global specialist of Diversity & Inclusion that helps companies to create and foster a culture of inclusion. At Pluribus, a global team of facilitators is deeply committed to inspire, include and support organisations, teams and individuals to help them value and leverage the diversity of their workforce. By addressing stereotyping and biases with her corporate clients Pluribus helps individuals to feel valued and encouraged to live their full potential.
This interview was taken in French on April 8th by Cécile Masson, leadership coach, host and writer of Rose, letters of love to life.
As a globetrotter used to being with clients around the world Isabelle finds herself in lock-down at home and was very much in the resistance in the beginning of this crisis. Now some weeks later she is in another rhythm.
Travelling is for her a way of being in contact with her clients. The difference to meet them now in a virtual space is revealing. She thought that in a face-to-face consultation the dialogue was more real, truer. Yet she now notices that the spirit of inclusion is improved by the smaller space of the virtual reality.
The need to be listened to is growing as all changes are happening at an increasing pace. A hunger for more authentic, generous and sincere dialogue is growing. Corona enables open exchanges and invites presence from the heart. The quality of presence, individual authenticity and true listening has much increased.
Isabelle observes that we live a unique moment in history and is fully conscious that she is in a privileged place with her husband, knowing that her children are well and that she can go into the garden whenever she pleases. Her heart and thanks go out to all the caretakers, shopkeepers, and cleaners and obviously more specifically to the corona patients themselves.
All levels of society are affected, emotional, mental, and economical.
– How can we not fall back into the old rat race and individually and collectively hold this gift of slowing down?
– How can we keep honouring our lost ones in the aftermath of this horrific crisis?
In leadership terms we do not necessarily speak of hierarchy but more of posture. So how each individual holds her life and how she can influence her life matters. We will always encourage to be centred in our self, and from within access different forms of leadership, of which one is performance leadership.
Performance leadership in the corporate world is the one that is mostly valued and has a speedy nature. Without wanting to fall into stereotyping, this masculine type of leadership is quite integrated in business. The relational leadership is slower, as it is a form that helps to reconnect with the intelligence of our body, the heart, and our intuitions. In companies this type of leadership has generaly been less valued. Isabelle again is careful not to fall into stereotyping, yet observes that women appear to have more facility in accessing this type of leadership.
In our feminine leadership programs Coming Into Your Own we also work with the strategic leadership stance that allows us to take distance and look at what is happening right in front of our eyes.
The visionary leadership stance holds an intention through time, looking at the past, seeing the present and envisioning a new future. So on an individual level and collectively, the art is to access again the centre and look at this unfolding reality from the varied positions to grow from an experience.
A pattern that she observes in corporates is the perpetual race, which is based on action, result, action, and result. That is what we all have been taught at school, in business and that many consider normal. Yet there is another approach possible. In our CIYO programs we call it the Creative Process. It can be used as a tool to break this pattern. It starts with a stop, with stillness. And that is exactly what we are experiencing just now individually and collectively.
So despite her knowledge of this tool, she is at this very moment being forced to slow down and to appreciate this state of immobility. The space of this interview is a gift as we are having a dialogue. Isabelle feels invited to listen to herself, to reflect and might come to a point where she can celebrate and let go of old patterns that do not serve anymore. In the time before the crisis she forgot about the immobility and celebrations of results as business was guided by action, result, action, and result. What Isabelle truly hopes these times will bring, is to reconnect with immobility and with the notion of true relationship.
So yes, we are in the performance and in war against a virus to protect ourselves, she states. Once this war is finished we need to learn to dance again, dance between the four leadership stances from an inner centre that accesses more the emotional intelligence connected to the earth. Planet Earth feels better today.
All the work that needs to be done in the context of inclusion, the respect of the other, is long-term work. Yet many companies with which Isabelle and her facilitators have the pleasure to work with have lived something unique and some leaders notice the raise of solidarity, of respect for each other and are confident that this contributes positively to team spirit.
In terms of gratitude and appreciation of the other, the appreciation of earth and the gift we are being given daily without necessarily realising it, this crisis might bring a new sense of recognition of the gift of eating in a restaurant, dancing, hugging family and friends, and seeing colleagues at work. The challenge will be to maintain this awareness. Appreciation of each single day is key.
To improve a quality of presence it is crucial to feel free to be entirely oneself, authentically present. The check-in for inclusion is a beautiful way to start any conversation with colleagues, friends or family. It is a practice that allows each one to express her of his very own truth. In terms of inclusion you might think that somebody is excluding another, but sometimes there is also the auto-exclusion. Not being self-insured enough, not to find one self legitimised to show-up that we call the impostures syndrome. So to encourage each other, women and men to speak up and tell her or his truth will help many to develop a sense of belonging and a sense of inclusion.