Work Human has been called a conference like no other. I have been intrigued and following their posts on Social Media for the past four years.  This year, for the second time, I had the chance to attend the conference in Nashville, TN.   Work Human ISa conference like no other I have attended – they have cracked the code.

Here are a few highlights from my experience this year:

Work Human is centered around the commitment to bring humanity back to the workplace.  The agenda is full of forward focused business and thought leaders. They have created an environment with multiple opportunities to network and truly engage with peers about how we change our work environments for the better.

  1. FIND OUR COURAGE AT WORK – Brené Brown joined Work Human for an encore performance. Over the past two decades of research, courage has emerged as one of the most important skills for leaders. What does leadership courage look like? Brave leaders:
    • are never quiet about the hard things. They have the tough conversations.
    • spend a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings. If we don’t we will spend an unreasonable amount of time attending to unproductive behavior
    • don’t get stuck in the setbacks.  They are able to bounce back after hard times.
    • are not afraid to spend time identifying the problem. They don’t have all the answers. They ask great questions.
    • initiate the conversations around inclusivity, diversity and equity. Even if they are uncomfortable, they choose courage over comfort.
    • don’t shame or blame others.

The four skill sets of courage?  Rumbling with Vulnerability, Living into Our Values, Braving Trust and Learning to Rise.  The good news is – these skills are teachable!

  • LEADERS USE STORIES TO SHAPE CULTURE – Karen Eber, a Global Culture and Leadership Development Strategist highlighted the importance of stories as a way to share information and develop others.  Stories communicate emotions and   create a picture of shared values and expected behaviors.  They help us to create, shape and scale culture across generations and geography.  Karen reminded us we all have stories to tell.  Articulating and sharing these stories helps leaders to not only reflect but to act with intention. 
  • “IF WE TAKE CARE OF OUR PEOPLE, THEY WILL TAKE CARE OF OUR GUESTS AND THE BUSINESS WILL TAKE CARE OF ITSELF. ”   An expression many of us have heard before. David Rodriguez, EVP and Global CHRO of Marriott International, Inc. shared how Marriott lives up to that statement in a global environment.   Rodriguez explains, the role of leaders as one to affirm the core values of the company and to have the courage (see BrenéBrown) to allow employees to express the core values. In a global organization, with many different cultures it is important for employees to express the values in ways that are relevant to them. Their people first philosophy helps Marriott cultivate an internal community that promotes trust, department cooperation and teamwork.
  • “IF SHE CAN SEE IT, SHE CAN BE IT!”  – I wasn’t sure what to expect from Genna Davis.  She was engaging, thoughtful, smart and funny all the while delivering an important message.  Actor and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media, she started the institute when she noticed the entertainment her young daughter was seeing had very few female role models or heroes.  Geena is advocating through her foundation to increase the number of females in leading roles in media by leveraging research data to persuade industry leaders.
  • SHOW MORE GRATITUDE– Work Human Central provide a place to network, eat, have a headshot taken, shop at the bookstore and make a keychain or bag to remember the conference. However, the centerpiece of Work Human Central was the gratitude bar – showing gratitude made easy and the power of gratitude made visible.  As a conference attendee, you could show your gratitude to another attendee and turn it into a donation to charity.   For every gratitude shared, you were able to hang a paper flower on the gratitude tree. Both trees were full before the end of the conference.  Gratitude…a simple gesture; a powerful impact.

One more thing that Work Human has cracked the code on.  After conferences, we all return to the busy day-to-day of our lives and hope to retain and use what we learned.  As I write this, it is not lost on me that three weeks later, my learnings from Work Human still resonate strongly and I have incorporate a number into my day to day.  I hope you will consider joining me at Work Human Live in Denver in 2020!

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