Wendi McGowan-Ellis 0:11
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership' with Marsha Clark. Join us on this journey where we're uncovering what it takes to be a powerful woman leader. All right, Marsha. Well, this week, we're kicking off a four part mini series. We love the mini series around here. So, this is a four part mini series on exploring organizational systems. And today's episode focuses on seeing systems. So, I'm guessing that we need to clarify what that means and what this entire series is intended to offer our listening leaders.
Marsha Clark 0:47
You're right, Wendi, and welcome back, listeners. The title may be a little mysterious for anyone who isn't already familiar with the work we've been doing over the past couple of decades regarding organizational systems. But it's deep and powerful work that I've really been looking forward to sharing with our listeners. So, I'm excited to be launching this series.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 1:08
So, when you say seeing systems, what are you referring to?
Marsha Clark 1:13
Yes, the bottom line, the systems we're going to be talking about are organizations, which is why I emphasized organizational systems. And it can be any kind of organization, whether it's a business, a nonprofit, a community, or even in some ways, a family. So, when we refer to systems in these upcoming episodes, I'll be talking about organizations, and our listeners can overlay whatever organization they are a part of, that they'd like to explore.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 1:42
Great. So, that's a very helpful foundation to set. We've already mentioned that this is a four part series. So, will you explain what the four episodes will be and how they're related?
Marsha Clark 1:49
Yeah. So, today, we'll start laying the groundwork of exploring systems, as described by Barry Oshry, in his book, "Seeing Systems", and the subtitle of that book is "Unlocking the Mysteries of Organizational Life". And next week, we're going to have a panel of three women who participated in a highly immersive, societal simulation based on Barry's work. And they're going to share what it was like to step into three different roles, or what we're going to refer to many times as spaces in that society and the lessons that they learned from that experience.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 2:34
And as a quick reminder for our listeners, we've had a previous episode where you can unpack your own experience of that immersive program. And we talked about how it shaped your decision to create your women's leadership programs. And that was Episode 9, from November of 2021. And the title is "Cape Cod Coup".
Marsha Clark 2:54
That's a nice call back Wendi. And if our listeners want to go back and catch that episode before next week, it will give them a bit of a nice bridge to the panel discussion. And we included it in that part, because it was a significant input into the women's leadership programs that I came to design, develop and deliver. And going back to this four part mini series, next week's episode is titled "A Real TOOT", which will make more sense after we're done today.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 3:25
Ah, yes, toots. I love that title.
Marsha Clark 3:28
Yes. And then the third episode in the mini series is called "In the Middle", which will drill down to the specific role or space in organizations of being in that middle, and the unique challenges and opportunities as leaders who find themselves in that middle space.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 3:46
Right. And I'm already having a hard time deciding which episode is going to be my favorite, knowing how impactful that content is around being in the middle.
Marsha Clark 3:55
Yeah, it's all really good stuff, Wendi. That's why I love this work. And we're going to wrap up the series with another panel of women leaders who have specifically found their power leveraging that middle space. And that episode is called "Mavens in The Middle".
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 4:13
Yeah, that's gonna be a good one. Can't wait.
Marsha Clark 4:15
All right. Well, then let's jump into "Seeing Systems".
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 4:18
Exactly. So, you open this section of your book, your new book, "Expanding Your Power", with a quote from Barry Oshry which I would love for you to share with everyone. But before you do that, for our listeners who aren't familiar with your connection to the Oshry's and the Power Plus Systems organization, will you share a brief history for context?
Marsha Clark 4:40
Yeah, I'll be happy to do that. And I think that's helpful. First of all, Barry has been studying organizational systems now for some 50 years. So, that tells you the depth of the research that we're in and the information that we're bringing to you. And I was first introduced to the Oshry's work by a person who was in my Master's program in the years 2000 and 2001, and his name is Phil Novick - shout out to you, Phil. And he introduced me to the Organization Workshop and then to the Power Lab that the Oshry's had developed, Barry and Karen. And we decided to bring that into the Power of Self Program because it was such a powerful view into organizational systems. And there aren't a lot of those out there in the marketplace. So, we thought it would bring a unique lens and share in some insights that aren't readily available in typical leadership training. And then I became part of the staff of the Power Lab, as both an anthropologist and a coach, and then even went on to be a board member of the Power and Systems Organization.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 5:53
So, this partnership with the Oshry's has had a deep and personal impact on you, not just the content you've delivered, but how its influenced your choices on focusing on women supporting women.
Marsha Clark 6:06
Absolutely. And again, if you want to go back to that Cape Cod Coup, you could get more information about how that all came to be. And I'll go into a little more detail next week with the panel on how the power lab specifically illuminated the opportunities in my career and I would even say the business direction. And so for today, I want us to look at how systems are set up and in play in organizations really all over the world. I've delivered this organization workshop that highlights all these organizational system dynamics in multiple countries, multiple industries, small, medium, and large, you know, public, private, nonprofit, for profit, and the dynamics are true.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 6:53
Well, let's start with the quote of Barry Oshry that you use to open up the chapter on "Seeing Systems" in the book.
Marsha Clark 7:00
All right, so Barry's quote is: "Generally if we are paying attention, we know what life is like for us in our part of the system, the organization. Other parts of the system, for the most part, are invisible to us. We may know those parts exist but we do not know what others are experiencing, what their worlds or spaces are like, what issues they're dealing with, what dilemmas they are facing, what stresses they are undergoing. And what makes matters worse, is sometimes we think we do know what's going on in that part of the system, when in fact we don't. We have our beliefs, myths and prejudice, which we accept as the truth, and which become the basis of our actions. This blindness (and I really think it is a blindness to other parts of the system) which we call spatial blindness, is a source of considerable misunderstanding and conflict."
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 8:05
Yeah. Hello. And doesn't this pretty much describe every source of misunderstanding and conflict? People don't know what life is like for someone else who is in a different world, but they pretend or assume that they do. Or they don't even think about it.
Marsha Clark 8:21
Right! They just make assumptions and and keep moving. Right? Right. So, that's why I've been so fascinated by this work for so long. It is deeply fundamental to how and why breakdowns occur in systems. And it also provides some specific strategies for how to address those breakdowns. And I want to also add the second part of Barry's quote about this blindness that occurs not just on at the individual level. He goes on to say, and I want to kind of bring in the last sentence that I read a moment ago to talk about this contrast. This blindness to other parts of the system, which we call spatial blindness, is a source of considerable misunderstanding and conflict. Temporal blindness refers to the fact that all current events in system life have a history. There is a coherent tale that has led to this particular point in time. And generally that history is also invisible to us. We experience the present, but are blind to the complex set of events that have brought us to the present. And again, it is the blindness to the history of the moment, that also can be a source of considerable misunderstanding and conflict.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 9:44
So, this lack of awareness or as he calls it, blindness happens at both the individual and the organizational or systemic level. And in both cases, it can lead to that considerable conflict.
Marsha Clark 9:57
Exactly. And as Barry would say, with great regularity, right? So, the work Barry and his wife, Karen, have done around the world and they've again worked with government teams, nonprofit organizations, corporations, you name it, they've worked in that arena, well their work has helped to shine a light on these blind spots and allowed leaders, helped leaders and their teams, given them the opportunity to viscerally experience what it's like to live in a space they may not be aware of, or used to. And that visceral experience is like no other.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 10:32
Okay, and I am really remembering the experience that we had in the Power of Self Program that was based on Oshry's work, and it was called the Organization Workshop, right?
Marsha Clark 10:44
That's right. It was called, and still is. So, you'll hear me refer to it oftentimes as the OW, the organization workshop. And it's still being delivered to groups around the world today both in person and there are, some have even tackled delivering it virtually, some of the teams at Power and Systems. I have to tell our listeners, I have not done that, and I can't imagine it. But what I'm going to share today are many of the key points from that workshop. And I will say, though, that there is nothing that takes the place of participating in the actual experiential workshop. So, if this content is intriguing to our listeners, they can reach out to me and we'll figure out how to best support them and their team or organization. And Wendi, I want to say I just got back from a client site where I was working in a manufacturing company, that part of their company. And I delivered 10 organization workshops in five days, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. And it was almost 300 people throughout the week. And they were manufacturing workers. And so, this is training that's not just for leaders, it is for all because there's an empathy and understanding that comes from having this visceral experience. And it was the head of that manufacturing plant that did it in another program here in Dallas with their executive team. And he said, I want to bring this to my entire team.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 12:12
What a leader. What a leader. And I highly recommend going through the experience. I mean, if I remember correctly, there was another important foundational element that the Oshry's had as a part of the workshop around a focus or a commitment to building partnership, right?
Marsha Clark 12:30
Well, that's right. And I love their partnership definition. And the Oshry's work has been driven by a desire to build and maintain strong partnerships and to help the organizations and communities that they work with, and that we work in and live in, in building those partnerships. And Barry developed this definition of partnership that's used in every single workshop. And, of course, I've tweaked it over the years. And Barry's original definition of partnership was being mutually committed to whatever process we're in. And over time, I added . . . and to each other, being mutually committed to whatever process we're in and to each other. And that's another credit to Phil Novick on that add. And I love this definition of how we want to work together in partnership. And I even often referred to it as creating a partnership culture, right, where we're all working together and committed to one another's success. And I want that, I want that for me and my team and my community and my family and so on. And I want it for, we need a whole lot more of it, I'll just I'll put it that way. So, you might be in a strategic planning process, a project planning process, a contracting process, a decision making, budgeting, the list goes on and on. And whatever process we're in, we want each other to contribute and deliver results that are good for the larger organization, or customer, family or community. And so in other words, you're not pushing your agenda to the exclusion of others, nor is the other person for any personal kind of personal gain. And you're working to help the other person be successful, and they're working to help you do the same.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 14:19
So, let's set up the foundation for exploring organizational systems through those different spaces that you referenced earlier. We already know there's a middle space. So, will you break all of that down for everyone?
Marsha Clark 14:33
Sure. So, earlier, I mentioned that we live in multiple systems. So, family, work, community, friendships, our nation, our communities of faith, our teams that can be sports or organizational teams, even think about it in terms of book clubs or bowling leagues. So, for just a moment, I want our listeners to think about all the different systems of which they are a part, and maybe even pause this recording and list some of those down so that as you hear what we're going to continue to share, you can apply it to those different systems. Because I think this content is even more powerful when we start to apply it in our real lives, our real worlds.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 15:13
Okay, everyone, hit pause for a moment, make your list of systems. All right, list of systems ready.
Marsha Clark 15:21
So, no matter which system you consider, these are the four worlds or spaces or roles of organizational life - tops, middles, bottoms, and customers. And I want you to think about customers as being both internal customers, people inside our organizations that we serve, as well as external customers who may be customers who are buying our product or service or who are recipients of our services, or even I think of government as a customer because we've got to produce reports and regulatory and compliance and all of that kind of thing. So, these labels are used to describe the space in the system. And I want to say, don't get hung up on the words as much as the word's ability to describe the space because if you think about it, you know, in your everyday organizational life, you can play any one of these roles. So, think about it. If you're meeting with your direct reports, you're a top. If you're meeting with your boss and your direct reports, you're a middle. If you're meeting with your boss, you are bottom. If another department or team provides you with services or deliverables of some sort, you're a customer. So think about your meetings this week when you're, as you're listening to this podcast, and make a note for each meeting that you're in. Are you a top, a middle, a bottom or a customer? And it's important to be clear about which of the roles or spaces you're playing because different system dynamics are going on for each of these roles.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 17:07
Right. And also a quick side note for everyone, you actually use the terms role, world, space, all of these interchangeably, don't you? I mean, but they're all pretty much the same thing in the context of this episode, correct?
Marsha Clark 17:25
That's right. Yes. And I appreciate us reminding our listeners about that. The terms are definitely intended to represent the same thing. So, in terms of the system or systems you're a part of, you can be playing any one of these four roles or occupying any one of these spaces on any given day. And when you're in your role, you only know what's going on in that world. It's as if there are brick walls in front of all those other worlds and you can't see in. You can't see what's going on on the other side of that brick wall.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 18:00
Can we go a little deeper into the world or space of each of those organizational roles? I mean, besides the obvious, what is life like for people in that top space versus bottom space, or even middle?
Marsha Clark 18:14
Yeah, we'll do that. I think it will help our listeners get a better sense of how each space truly is unique outside of the obvious hierarchical nature. And so, we'll start with the tops. And so, tops are trying to survive in a world of complexity and a strong sense of being responsible for the entire system. And there are lots of things bombarding a top on a daily basis. Tops worry about making the numbers, selling new business, meeting regulatory requirements, employee engagement and productivity, keeping clients happy, watching the competition, and ensuring that they know what's going on in the marketplace. And it goes on and on and on. So, that's the top space. Moving, next we'll go to the bottoms. So, many bottoms are trying to survive in a vulnerable world waiting for the higher ups and those higher ups could be tops or middles, to provide direction, to allocate and review work, to make decisions, to develop them, to give them feedback, to assign tasks, to keep them informed on a wide variety of things. And it's a world where more good, noxious, mysterious and silent stuff is ever present. And I'll talk more in just a minute about good, noxious, mysterious and silent stuff. So, I'll come back to that. And so, next, let's talk about the world of middles. The middle world feels like you're getting pulled in a million directions. The tops want updates and results. The bottoms are asking a million questions. Peers, which could be other middles, have expectations and customers want a status updated, or a good deal as well as the results. So, I see the middle world as a master repository of information really from the most sources or spaces in an organization. And they're actually the linchpin of many organizations. And I'm also betting that many of our listeners find themselves living in that middle world for a large percentage of their work day as well. And then last, though, certainly not least, what about the worlds of customers? Well, customers often experience a world of promises made and promises broken. I'll have it to you by Tuesday, oops, I can't get it to you by Tuesday, I'll have it to you by Thursday, you know, as well as excuses, the delays, the disappointments. And so, often a customer can feel neglected and really have a sense of being dismissed by whoever is providing them that product or service.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 20:55
I'm starting to see how breakdowns occur and silos get built in organizations. You know, this is my job, my deliverables, my goals, and I may not have any idea what is happening in other parts of the organization.
Marsha Clark 21:11
Yes, that's exactly right, Wendi. And we're back to that spatial blindness that Barry introduced in his quote. So, not only do we have that spatial blindness, but the walls, those brick walls that are often in front of the other person's worlds, isolate us from other parts of the organization, the other spaces, if you will. But the reality is that we don't actually work in silos, at least that's not how most organizations operate. Work usually doesn't get done in isolation. So, I want our listeners to imagine that they're sitting at their desk, or wherever they might do their work and they're cranking away at their tasks and deliverables. And all of a sudden, an email notification pops up on maybe it's teams or slack or whatever internal communication tools you might use. And your world is interrupted by someone on the other side of your proverbial wall.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 22:06
Yes, that brush sound of the slack notifications.
Marsha Clark 22:12
And, you know, we may be aging ourselves a little bit here if we think about yes, we've got mail and all those kinds of things but we understand the interruption. So, before I cover this next part, I want our listeners to stop for just a moment. When they get an notification or they hear a ding or a brush or a swish or whatever, what are your immediate thoughts?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 22:32
Well, I'm guessing that the answer is "It depends." Who's sending it? Is it the boss with a compliment or maybe even a bonus? Or is it the customer with a new order? Or again, is it the boss with a hey, we need to look at what you're doing or a customer with a problem.
Marsha Clark 22:50
That's right. Or even one of our direct reports has run into an obstacle of some sort. So, all of those are good points. And at first, all we know is that this notification represents what we call stuff and, as in stuff happens, right? So, here we are and there's stuff swirling around in our system all the time. And as you pointed out, Wendi, stuff takes many forms. And there can be, let's categorize the kinds of stuff. Good stuff. Maybe it's a note that says your project's been approved. Maybe it's a note that says you won the deal that you're getting that raise or promotion or, you know, you got a decision you were waiting for. So, that's the kind of good stuff swirling in a system. There can also be what we call noxious stuff. Your organization may be struggling financially and layoffs are coming. Could have been you've been working from home and now your organization announces you have to come back into the office and that's adding cost and hours to complete your commute. Could be your company's being acquired and you're worried and you fear that your job might be eliminated. Could be your organization is implementing some sort of new technology and you're not sure you can learn all about this new technology.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 24:04
Yeah, this sounds like noxious stuff to me.
Marsha Clark 24:07
Yeah, all of those things. And then I think these are universal in various and sundry ways. But then the next is we can also be on the receiving end of what we call mysterious stuff. And maybe this is your company announces a reorganization and you don't know why they think that's necessary. Or maybe you receive an email that says a longtime leader is leaving the organization (and I always laugh at this one) to spend more time with their family. And you wonder what the real story is. And, Wendi, just as an aside, you know, I laughingly when I teach this part, I say, by the way, I'm waiting for the organizational announcement when someone is joining the organization so they can spend less time with their family.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 24:50
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And you know what, I'm just going to add the comment that I bet for the majority of our listeners, they're going to agree with me on this statement. I would rather have the noxious stuff than the mysterious stuff. The mysterious stuff is super scary. And your brain starts spinning and cranking up stories, making up stories.
Marsha Clark 25:12
Yes, I think you're probably right. So, mysterious is just what the heck is going on? And then finally, there is what is called silent stuff. The email you send expecting a response and the response never comes, the decision you've been waiting for that keeps getting pushed out with no communication, or no explanation. I often think about this as the hurry up and wait. Right, you know, you'll hit your deadlines and then it will sit there forever, you know, with nothing going on about it. And you not only don't know, but you start to resent.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 25:47
Well, and so, now I'm adjusting and amending my vote. Silent stuff and mysterious stuff are equal. I don't know what to do with no response. Like you just, and that feels like the most passive aggressive power play to me.
Marsha Clark 26:11
And even when I do my coaching, I say, send the email that says "I'm going to move ahead with this unless I hear from you." That usually gets a response. Because I'm going on.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 26:21
There's a pro tip right there.
Marsha Clark 26:23
You know, but it also depends on whether you live in a permission or forgiveness culture. So, let me just offer that. I don't want to get my listeners in trouble. But I don't know anybody who likes all this, you know, mysterious, noxious and silent stuff. So, again, before we dive deeper into what tends to happen when this stuff is floating around, I want to ask our listeners, again, to do a quick reflection exercise, just around the idea of different spaces and stuff that's floating around in their world right now because stuff is coming in all day long every day. So, here's the assignment that I give in the book. So, a little preview of that. So, look at your calendar for the next 30 days and look at where you are in meetings. And identify and note, and you can do this on your calendar, in which meetings are you a one, top with overall responsibility for the meeting? You can put "T" on that meeting notice on your calendar. Are you a middle existing between the tops and bottoms, maybe playing interpreter, reporter, director of assignments that kind of role? Put an "M" on your calendar. Or are you a bottom with responsibility for rendering services or producing the deliverables required of your team or the organization? You can put a "B" on there. And then the last one, of course, is customer putting a "C" because are you receiving products and services from another part of the organization? So, then you might do a quick check, even as you look at that week of your calendar as a microcosm of your typical work month, work year and so on? And where are you spending the majority of your time? Is it in the top, middle bottom or customer space? And then the next part of the reflection is for you to think about what stuff has recently been floating around in your organization - a change in direction, an acquisition or merger, outsourcing, hiring freezes, budget cuts - you know, mindful that as we get into the end of the year, there's two things. We're either freezing hiring because we're not making our numbers or we're doing budget cuts, or we're doing the use it or lose it, so people have this flurry of activity trying to spend money they put in their budget so they get to have it for next year's, too.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 28:54
So, now we have a sense of which space and/or spaces we're spending our time in and what kind of stuff is floating around in those spaces. Now what? We put T's, B's and M's on our calendar.
Marsha Clark 29:07
And we know what kind of stuff is swirling around. And so, I want to share what usually happens and this is primarily when that noxious, mysterious or even silent stuff comes floating our way. And this is pretty much a universal response. So, I want our listeners to check and see how familiar this sounds from their own experience because if they were in the room with me, they would be smiling and nodding as I teach this part. So, when that stuff starts swirling, it is almost as if it is a human condition. The first thing we do is make up a story about it. And, you know, we're telling us that those people have no idea how hard we are working. We can't keep up with the workload now and they put on a hiring freeze. They have no idea what's really going on. So, those are the kinds of stories we can make up. And then next we evaluate others. They don't care about how hard we have to work. Or we even call them names, you know, they're stupid, incompetent, out of touch, lazy, confused, lost, all kinds of labels that we put on them. And third, we take it personally, you know, I've given a lot of years and made a lot of contributions in my time here. And yet, they just see me as a number on a spreadsheet. It's when people come to those meetings where you're having to do staff reductions, and they don't refer to people they refer to FTE's, full time equivalents, right. And so it's so impersonal and yet it's so personal for me. And then we react, you know, I'm mad. I'll show them. I'm going to do as little as possible. I'm gonna go out and look for another job. I'm going to take longer breaks. I'm gonna call in sick, I mean, all those kinds of things. And what happens then is that we lose focus. It's no longer about making contributions or doing our best work, we get distracted with the complaining conversations, the high anxiety moments. And if we aren't already looking for a job, we wonder if we should be. And then we fall out of partnership. That's the outcome of all of this. And it's no longer about being mutually committed to whatever process we're in, much less to each other. So, that's the, we make up a story about it, we evaluate others, we take it personally, we react, we lose focus, and we fall out of partnership. So, Wendi, here's my question for all of our listeners, now that we've covered what happens when we encounter the stuff. I ask you listeners, "How long do you think it takes for you to go from making up a story, evaluating others and so on?" I mean, is it five minutes, is it an hour? Is it three days or is it about a nanosecond? And most likely, in less time than it took you to listen to me make this list or recite this list, and it happens quickly and almost by default. So, what we refer to in Barry's body of work, we refer to this default process as the sideshow, and like the noisy distraction at the circus, right? What's in the sideshow, the bearded lady, the three headed snake, all those that might get our attention and are novel but are not the main attraction, which I'll talk about in just a moment, and we've called it the sideshow for a long time. And the organization, the Power and Systems team now refers to that default spiral as getting sidetracked because it gets us off that main focused path that we want to be on.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 32:41
So sideshow or sidetracked either way, can we back up a second and then and go a little deeper into why that's our default response. I mean, I relate to it. And I'm wondering what it is internally that flips that switch?
Marsha Clark 32:57
Yeah, and there are several explanations, Wendi, and the most obvious one for me is that it's easy, right? I mean, it just happens and in that story that I make up and all the finger pointing and evaluating and blaming I do I don't have to take any accountability. And there are a lot of people in the sideshow that are sidetracked with lots of finger pointing, and plenty of blame to go to everyone but themselves, but me, right? And I have another quick question for everyone. In those blaming moments where some kind of noxious, mysterious or silent stuff has come floating in your way, what role do you usually reserve for yourself in your story? So, what role are you playing, what character do you play?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 33:47
I already know the answer to this and I don't like it. I'm probably feeling sorry for myself, so, I'm the martyr.
Marsha Clark 33:53
Yes, the martyr or victim or you can think about it from the victim standpoint, they have done you wrong. And remember, especially in that bottom space where you live in a world of vulnerability, waiting for others to give you information, assign tasks, talk to you about why we're doing this. And there's almost a self righteousness when I'm the martyr or the victim. One that, you know, maybe I told you that wouldn't work or they should have listened to me kind of thing. And you know, the second role that you might identify is you're the hero or the heroine riding in to save the day. I'll do my magical things, and I'll be that hero. And so, then the next question you ask yourself, is what do you have to give up to move out of and beyond that sideshow, to shift away from making up a story evaluating others because that's going to happen. And for me, the choice point is not whether we're going to go to the sideshow. We are, likelihood we are. It's how long are we going to stay there. And so, to shift away from all of that making up a story, evaluating others and so on, what do you have to give up?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 35:06
Well, you have to give up feeling sorry for yourself, for sure.
Marsha Clark 35:11
Yes, that's right. And you also have to give up your lack of accountability and blaming others. And you may have to give up a bit of arrogance and ego pretending that you have all the answers. And if you think about it, it's so easy to fall into that sideshow trap and it's not so easy to shift out of it. But that's where the great opportunity when we can stand and we in fact, do step away from the slideshow. Why do we want to move beyond that? What is the advantage or the benefit of that?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 35:42
Well, besides that being a miserable place, I mean, organizationally, I can't imagine much is getting done or done well if everyone is hanging out in that sideshow spot.
Marsha Clark 35:53
That is exactly right. And if we want to work and live in spaces where we're in full partnership with with others, where we're committed to our collective process and to each other individually, we've got to check our natural tendencies to slide into that sideshow. You know, we're humans and our brains operate that way. And it's, in fact, how we make some sense of the world. And it doesn't serve us well. So, our choice point is not whether we're, let me say it again, our choice point is not whether we'll go through this process or this automatic response. Our choice point is whether or not we're going to stay there.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 36:29
Well, I love the reflection questions you have at the end of this section in your book, and I think our listeners will enjoy them, too. So, please share those.
Marsha Clark 36:38
Sure. The first reflection question asks, "Based on the stuff that you identified in the previous reflection, have you been or are you now operating from the sideshow?" So, first, I have to acknowledge and become aware and conscious of whether I'm living in that sideshow. And then the next question is, "What do you need to do to move on from the sideshow?" Who can help you and who can you help because there's usually a party of people going on in the sideshow.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 37:08
Exactly. And those are great questions for a very important gut check. If our natural or reflexive action when stuff happens is to make up a story and basically jump into the circus sideshow, then what are the alternatives? What's the antidote to the sideshow?
Marsha Clark 37:28
Yeah, and I referenced this a moment ago. I call it shifting into the center ring and that, again, is the language that Barry used for years. And they're now talking about it as being, referring to it as being centered and it's like, I still like the visual aspect of thinking about the centering of the circus, because it's the main attraction, right? And the center ring place, choice to be in the center ring, is a more productive mindset. And it requires you to acknowledge and understand that the stuff and our challenges are coming from a world of tops, middles, bottoms and customers, rather than from a specific individual.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 38:08
Okay, let's pause here for just a moment because that's not an inconsequential statement you just made there. You said, it requires me to acknowledge and understand that the stuff and my challenges are coming from a world of tops, middles, bottoms and customers, rather than a specific individual. But yet, I'm pretty sure all of my stuff comes from a person, people.
Marsha Clark 38:38
Well, that's right. But you know, when I'm teaching the organization workshop, I often say, if you think the tops are not doing a good job, I could pull them out and put any two other people and guess what? The dynamics would be the same. And that's what we mean by it comes from the space, not the person. They, the people, whoever are occupying those roles are people but the stuff flying around is usually a result of the space or world that they're operating in. So, that's when you know it is a systemic issue, Wendi, is when you can, and how many times have we seen organizations think, 'Oh, Joe is not doing a good job. We're going to replace Joe.' Then we put Suzy in there. Suzy doesn't do a good job, we replace Suzy and somebody else comes in. And that's, you know, nothing gets fixed because it's not an individual issue. It's a systemic issue. And so I want us to now look at what our alternative is in moving into that center ring, and I think that can also help our listeners see how you're thinking and automatic responses can shift. So, when you're operating from this centered place, or the center ring, your thinking reflects these kinds of strategies. So, one is understanding and empathy. Now that you're aware of the conditions of each world, put yourself in their shoes, the shoes of a top, a world of complexity and responsibility for the overall system; middle, getting pulled in all kinds of directions; bottoms being vulnerable; customers being ignored or promises made/promises broken. And think about times when you've lived in that world. And that's the understanding part, and acknowledge to the other person or persons that you understand, appreciate and respect the reality of their respective worlds. So, number one, understanding and empathy. Two is moving from that taking it personally, to not taking it personally. This is one of the hardest, but remind yourself that whatever stuff is happening is coming from a world, it's not about you. And I know that's hard to see when you're in sort of a place of vulnerability and suffering, if I can be dramatic about it. And I know it's hard to see and much less admit that it isn't about you personally. Because when you're in that stuff, you are often deeply in it. And look, I get in that stuff, too. I know all this stuff and I have to stop and remind myself about it in order to pull myself out of it. And then the third is stay focused. Remind yourself what is your desired outcome? The work is not to get distracted and to continuously hang out in that side show. And a phrase that reflects this center ring principle and you may have heard it, is keep your eye on the ball, right, the ball or in this case the desired outcome. It may bounce several times and in several directions. And it requires you to stay open, and be flexible so that you can readily pivot when the situation requires that of you in order to achieve your outcome. And then the last one, or the next one is don't get hooked on the stuff. And I'll share with my leaders and those who have been in any of my programs they know this about me is when I find myself getting hooked or triggered, here's what I say to myself, my inside voice, if you will, "Isn't that fascinating? And what else could be true?" And what that does is it allows me to refocus, and stay engaged and to stay away from my moments of criticism, judgment and blame. And I remind myself that I made up a story and quite likely it's one that's narrow, where I've only considered my view of the world. And this is in contrast to my calling on my system's sight or my system's thinking.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 42:48
And I'm already seeing how these new behaviors in the center ring are far more productive than the sideshow, I mean, productive and definitely more intentional and less emotional.
Marsha Clark 43:00
Less emotional and it's where my power lies. You know, we talked so much about it. It's being in that center ring and me choosing how I'm going to respond rather than sliding into that default position. And the sideshow takes little to no energy to fall into or stay in. But the center ring definitely requires intention and commitment. And so, the next element from the center ring is to be strategic, which goes straight to that point because being strategic or strategic thinking requires us to be big picture/long term thinkers. And big picture is synonymous with systems sight and systems thinking. You understand the desired outcomes. And you know that working effectively with other persons requires you to engage in a big picture, strategic kind of way. And I would call it, it's somewhat akin to, when you step back, take a breath, consider everyone's points of view. And then you re-engage. You've got to get beyond seeing it only from your specific point of view or your space in the system. And then the final element of the center ring reminds us to strive to stay in partnership. So, remember that if you are truly striving to operate and engage as a partner, you are committed to achieving that collective desired outcome. And you also want the other person in this partnership to feel seen, heard and valued.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 44:30
I think of all the center ring elements, the two that continue to stick with me are don't take it personally and strive to stay in partnership. Those were the two that I hear myself chanting, you know, frequently in meetings when I'm starting to feel like I'm getting sucked into the sideshow.
Marsha Clark 44:48
I think that's great and you know, different situations call on different elements for me. Sometimes I need to be reminded not to take it personally and other times it's about not getting hooked on the stuff. So, they all come in handy at one point or another, for sure.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 45:02
No doubt, and I want to share the reflection questions with our listeners. I want you to, with our listeners, again, from the book.
Marsha Clark 45:09
Yeah, so the reflection questions around this are "How might you use the center ring thinking to work through some of your current stuff?" So, instead of being that victim, martyr, self righteous hero, heroine, whatever it might be, how can this center ring thinking help you get beyond that? "How can you assess, consider, and check out what's going on in the worlds of others, to better understand this stuff?" And that could be the situation or what the person themselves is experiencing. And then, and I want to add something to that. What comes through in the workshops that I do is, here's a frequently heard statement: "Just because it's my priority doesn't mean it's your priority." And that's, you know, a part of instead of being committed to one another, it's the I've gotta get my to do list done, or I've got to get this checked off or whatever. And so, then the last reflection question is "What are you going to do differently as a result of this new center ring lens which is going to enable you to see and manage the stuff more effectively?"
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 46:20
Well, this is one of those episodes where people are going to be really grateful for the transcription.
Marsha Clark 46:25
Yes, especially until the book comes out. And that's right, it's a lot to keep track of when you're just listening. But I do hope that our readers are getting a sense of how it all fits together. And you know, we've covered a lot of ground. And still there are still two big concepts around seeing systems that I want to share with our listeners in order for them to get not only the full picture, but also to leave with some strategies on how to operate effectively, in each space and with each space.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 46:54
Okay, where are we going next?
Marsha Clark 46:56
Yeah, so I want to explore with our listeners this question, "How come it goes the way it usually goes?" because these are so familiar, again, universal around the world, and all kinds of organizations. And then we'll finally wrap up with some strategies.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 47:10
Okay, buckle up everybody.
Marsha Clark 47:12
So, this is a little harder to describe visually, but I'm going to try. So, imagine a table with three columns. And the first column reads Predictable Conditions and they describe what's typically happening in the different spaces or worlds of the organization. So, think about the first row across those three columns, their predictable condition is to be overloaded in that space of complexity and responsibility for tops.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 47:47
For tops. Okay, so that makes sense.
Marsha Clark 47:49
And in the second column, with the heading Predictable Responses, which means again, not every time but with great regularity, that when these conditions of complexity and responsibility for the top are present, the tops predictable response follows. So in the world of top overload, the predictable response for tops is to suck it up, meaning just take on more, work longer hours, work harder, and they take on more ownership, more accountability. It's all about more, more, more.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 48:24
Yep, feeling that.
Marsha Clark 48:25
All right. And so, then the third column is titled Familiar Disempowering Scenarios. And in the case of tops, again, who are in the conditions of being overloaded, and their predictable responses to that overload is to suck it up and do even more, the familiar disempowering scenario is to feel burdened.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 48:49
Well, and that becomes a reinforcing loop.
Marsha Clark 48:51
Absolutely. I, again, when I teach these workshops, maybe bottom people that typically find themselves in the bottom space, it's like, I don't ever want to be a top. It's too hard.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 49:02
Exactly. Look at that horrible life that person has.
Marsha Clark 49:05
Yes. And it happens in all four spaces. So, let me build out this entire table for everyone. And, you know, I think you're likely to connect with one or two of these examples. And so, we've covered the world of tops. And so, now let's look at bottoms. For them, their predictable condition in the system is being disregarded. They're waiting on information, they're waiting on resources, they're waiting on assignments, they're waiting on decisions. So, the predictable response to all that disregard is to hold them, middles or tops, responsible for their disregarded condition in the system.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 49:43
Okay, so the they, the them is. . .
Marsha Clark 49:46
The tops and middles. And sometimes customers depending on how you are structured. So, it's anybody in reality, it's anybody but the bottoms, so it can be senior leaders, middle managers, aggressive customers, and even other bottom groups, right? And all of that leads to the familiar disempowering scenario of feeling oppressed, squashed is the way I think about that. When someone outside of yourself seems to have all the control and power, I think it's a natural feeling to be in that oppressed state.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 50:21
Yeah, I'm thinking of the situations where I find myself at the bottom of the system where I don't have any positional power or control. And I can definitely see how I feel disconnected or even indifferent in some ways, and I hadn't thought about the oppressed aspect. But now I think I need to explore that a little and see how that might be in play.
Marsha Clark 50:48
Yeah, it's a hot button word. Right? Oppressed is a big word and I don't use it lightly, nor does Barry. And it's important to recognize when people at the bottom of a system who have been repeatedly disregarded, alienated, you name it, isolated, whatever it is, how that shift into feeling oppressed, it makes perfect sense. It's the nature of the system if we aren't being intentional and strategic. And we're going to talk more about that in just a minute.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 51:21
I know we're going to have two whole episodes focusing on the middle space. But for today, can you at least walk us through the chart for what's happening with the middles? So, second, horizontal, right.
Marsha Clark 51:34
We've talked about tops and bottoms. Now we're going to talk about middles. So, the predictable condition is to feel crunched, crunched between the tops and the bottoms. So, then our predictable response is to slide into that middle space. And what that means is to try and help everyone to solve all the problems they see and that leads to that familiar disempowering scenario of being torn or pulled apart. And here's the visual that I often share. You just kind of stand up, you know, and you've got your arms out, somebody's got your left arm pulling on you, somebody's got your right arm, somebody your left leg, your right, and it's like being stretched thin.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 52:20
Yeah, Stretch Armstrong, and not in a good way. And yet that middle space is the hardest in organizations.
Marsha Clark 52:28
Yes, it is, and it definitely has some unique challenges for sure. And that's why we're dedicating special episodes to that middle space.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 52:37
Okay, good. So, the last world to explore here is that of customers. What is the predictable condition for customers in systems, or shall we say in unenlightened systems.
Marsha Clark 52:49
Right. Right. So, for customers, the predictable condition is to be neglected. You know, when I ask about, say a few words about the customers when we're doing the organization workshop, it's usually annoying, demanding, intrusive, and so we want to push them out, right. And yet our, for those for profit organizations, or even nonprofits who are providing services, we need those people. So, if you think about it, in most organizations, we get our requirements or specs from the customer. We need them to do needs assessments and then we can run off and start building whatever the deliverable might be. So, for some amount of time, there is mysterious or even silent stuff floating around. And the customer can be completely in the dark for some period of that time. And it's during that time that the feelings of being neglected start to kick in. And the customer who's on the outside of the system starts to grumble, and they complain by holding it, in this case, the organization responsible. And when they start pointing fingers at the organization, their familiar disempowering scenario is to feel righteously screwed. So, the system doesn't listen to me. They're moving so slow, they never stop asking questions.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 54:09
Yeah, I'm remembering that from the simulation, that feeling of nobody's listening.
Marsha Clark 54:15
Yeah. And I will tell you even, so when I told you that the general manager for this recent manufacturing site, so, he lived in a top world for most of his in and out days, he was a bottom and the empathy lesson that he learned from that and then other people who are often at the top got the customer experience. And that's the 'Oh my gosh, we do this to our customers all the time, not with strategic thinking or intention, and yet we do it.' So, you know, the reflection questions here are: "Can our listeners in this case relate to these predictable conditions, predictable responses, and these disempowering scenarios?" And so, if you were able to draw the chart and you see yourself in the chart when you're operating from that top, middle bottom or customer world, and that's the awareness and understanding. So, let's not leave you there. Let's get to the key to unlocking how to not get stuck in those predictable reflexive responses. So, you need to recognize that your predictable reflex response is often invisible to you, and you often don't see your part in it. So again, I'm going to share a visual if I can. So, on the left hand side of the page, you can write the word condition, the condition of complexity, responsibility, being torn, vulnerable, neglected, and so on. And from that word condition, you're going to have an arrow pointing at the end of it to a circle which kind of represents the universal you in our programs and, for our listeners, in this case, pointing to the right. And then the question inside that circle is "Who, me?" Right. And then from that another arrow going to the right is and then the word experience. So, we often go from the condition to the experience, but it's only when we understand our role in it through your predictable reflex response that we can begin to to choose differently.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 56:30
Choose. Choose is the word there. Okay, we have one last big piece of content to share from this work on seeing systems and it's the icing on the organizational cake, if you will. We have some empowering principles and strategies we want to share with everyone.
Marsha Clark 56:47
Yes. And I do want to say, Wendi, that we're going to share a couple of strategies for each organizational space. There are many more that will be included in the book.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 56:55
Excellent. Okay. So, if we've covered every strategy, this would be a two hour episode. I mean, this is usually a half day workshop.
Marsha Clark 57:05
Half day or a full day. Right. So, let's get to the meat of this last section. We've now described the system, we've we've talked about the many facets to consider, as we live in the many systems of our lives and that we're not destined to stay in these systems and be miserable. We have choices. And I want to share some specific empowerment strategies for when you're top, middle, bottom or customer. And I want to emphasize again, this is just the beginning of the list when you're committed to living and working in partnership, really much of our lives is about discovering and learning new ways to make good things happen, partnership and partnership cultures happen. So, the specific principles, and I often refer to these as 'stands' for each space that drive the empowerment strategy. So, the first one is: Be a top who creates responsibility throughout the system. You don't have to take it all yourself, you don't have to be overburdened. Be a middle who stays out of the middle and who maintains your independence of thoughts and actions aligned with your organizational systems strategies. And I know it sounds a little crazy to stay out of the middle, but I want to go back to middles are the master repository where more information is held. Because of that the independence of thought and actions is richer because they know more. And they share that and come up not just with identifying problems, but also working on solutions. And then for a bottom, the stand there is be a bottom who's responsible for your condition in the system. So, take care of yourself. And yet, also be a bottom who is responsible for the condition of the system. So, I'm not just going to be a vulnerable, you know, into the food chain kind of role. I can see things because I'm closest to the work and I can come up with better ways of working. And then be a customer who gets in the middle of delivery processes and helps them work for you. This is more about don't sit on the sidelines, right, and take potshots. And I would describe these principles that I just listed as both a mindset as well as what you want to happen.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 59:31
So, very quickly, what are just a couple of strategies for tops who want to create responsibility throughout the system?
Marsha Clark 59:38
So, just picking two is hard. So, I'm gonna go a little bit rogue on you and cover more than two on tops since we're not going to go into detail on middles in this episode. So, here are my top four strategies for tops in creating responsibility in the system. The first one is sharing high quality information. And this is information that reflects big picture and longer term vision and thinking which often is only known by the tops in most organizations because it's their job, their role, you know, to know the market, know the competition, know what's going on, and so on. And it also helps when tops share the why, the what, the when, and the who. So, teams and organizations perform better and are more engaged, and therefore more productive when they have such high quality information. And, you know, again, my listeners who've been with us for a while know that I say this often, but my, one of my favorite leadership principles is by Maya Angelou 'Do the best you can, and then when you know better, do better.' So, when we know better, we can do better. And then the second strategy for tops is ask for help. You know, simply stated, you don't have to do it all. You are going to distribute responsibility throughout the system, and it's a sign of leadership and maturity, to know when to ask for help. And I feel compelled to also say here, many people think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. I will tell you that as a longtime leader of many teams of all sizes, shapes and forms, I'd rather have someone come to me and ask for help where we have time to give them that help - not the day before, the day of or the day after when we've missed something. So, I want to offer that as well. And then the third one is make another top. So, that's another way of distributing. So, it's delegating, and it's delegating with authority so you can then be the coach. And I look at this strategy really as delegating for development, delegating with authority, delegating with responsibility, always putting in appropriate checks and balances, but helping others to learn and grow. And then the last one is reducing differences between tops and bottoms. And these differences can come in several varieties - reducing the differences in compensation, you know, pushing decision making down to lower levels and not all residing at the top allowing everyone to produce their best thinking and therefore have influence in the organization, sharing that high quality information that they glean from their part of the system, problem solving, customer relations, and so on. So, be thoughtful and intentional and make choices over a period of time as the bottoms are given the invitation, the permission and the encouragement to fully engage.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 1:00:46
So, for bottoms who want to take on responsibility for their own condition and the condition of the system, what empowerment strategies do you recommend?
Marsha Clark 1:02:50
Yes. The number one for me is shifting from victim to co-creator and then, from complaint to potential projects or solutions. And I've often shared in the programs that I do that one of my most effective career advancing strategies was taking things off my boss's to-do list rather than putting things on my boss's to-do list. And I always tried to have an idea or a recommendation whenever I had a complaint, or I saw an opportunity for improvement. I didn't just identify the problem, because it doesn't take very much skill or capability to identify problems. You know, people who can complain are everywhere. And people who can bring solutions are really valuable. And people who can implement those solutions, I would dare say are priceless. And so, the second strategy for bottoms is ask yourself what your part is in perpetuating the problem conditions. So, holding up that mirror takes a lot of courage. And you know, maybe you're staying too long in this sideshow. Maybe you're not speaking up to identify problems and potential solutions. Maybe you're waiting for someone else to fix it or to ask for your help. But once you identify your role in the problem condition, make a plan and be a leader. And then the last one for bottoms is ask yourself how can you become central in making this problem go away? This is a more complicated strategy than it initially appears. Because in becoming central to making the problem go away, you're likely signing up, if you will, for more work. And big problems require time, attention and focus. And most of my clients are already working double time to get everything done, and so, you have to be thoughtful and intentional when stepping into this strategy. And determine if spending some upfront time to solve the problem will save you time in the long run. So, you know, when I have competing priorities I always ask myself what's going to matter most a year from now and depending on the answer, I prioritize accordingly. And this does require the slow down to speed up. So, if I spend a little more time right here, will I save myself lots more time in the future.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 1:05:15
Now, I know we're not going to go into detail on middles since we're going to do those other episodes focused on them, but maybe offer just a little sneak peek into their empowerment strategies.
Marsha Clark 1:05:28
Okay. Yes. So, when you're living in the middle world, and you want to avoid that middle tearing, the stand is be a middle who stays out of the middle and maintains your independence of thoughts and actions aligned with the system strategies. So, the middle strategies are be a top when you can. You need to make a decision, move on it. Be a bottom when needed. Sometimes you've got to roll up your sleeves and help out. Be a coach in developing others. Share your expertise and guide your teams in a more hands on way but teaching them along the way to achieve the desired outcomes. Be a facilitator. Connect the right people together to get the work done. And really important, and again, we're gonna talk about this in its own episode, integrate with your peers. So, more to come on all of these strategies in one of our future episodes.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 1:06:19
Excellent. Okay. And finally, customers who want to shift from feeling righteously screwed customers to more of a partnership role. What strategies do you want to highlight for them?
Marsha Clark 1:06:32
So, remember, the stand for being a customer is be a customer who gets in the middle of delivery processes and helps them work for you. And here are the two strategies I really like. One is find out how the system works. Most organizations always have protocols for engaging with another person or another part of the organizational system. It might be referred to as a chain of command. And I recommend that you get really clear about how you make requests, how status updates will happen, the format, the frequency, who's involved, and so on, how problems will be resolved, how changes will be received and executed, and how decisions and approvals will be made. Those are things that say, know how the system works. And these protocols might also be referred to in some organizations as operating norms or operating principles. So, take that time upfront to get clear, and to get alignment with all the parties that are involved. And then, the next one is my favorite on the page, right. So, I produce a one page summary of all of these. And I think this one, even though it's on the customer, or in the customer column, I think it could apply to many of us in many of the roles. And that's to get into the process early as a partner, not late as a judge. So, if we slow down a bit to get clear on how the system works, we set clear expectations, demands and standards, we respect the agreed upon protocols, partnership is going to be a much more effective and likely outcome. And as I said, I think we can practice getting in early as a partner not late as a judge no matter what space we're in. And I will add that the two other strategies for customer empowerment are get clear expectations, demands and standards and stay close to the producers. So, once the protocols have been agreed upon, stay as close as reasonably possible to the bottom who's actually doing the work. And this reduces the chances of miscommunication or even disappointment with the outcomes.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 1:08:40
And to think we have so much more to share on this topic of seeing and leading in systems. So, Marsha, what would you like to add as we wrap up today's episode?
Marsha Clark 1:08:52
Yeah, and I wrote this in the book and I think it's worth sharing with our listeners here. Many company cultures and even leadership development programs and books have an underlying implication that if you're a good hero or heroine, if you try really hard to lead well, everything is doable. So, just do it. Just do it. And what I've described to you today is what I consider a better, more effective leadership approach, you know, one that provides that systemic framework that can help you understand how things work and influence your thinking. So, if you stop and think about your own experience you'll remember that in some cases, no matter how hard you try to lead and no matter how you will yourself, right, push yourself to get things done, the dynamics of systemic forces are in motion. And unless you take those system dynamics into account, you know, it's as if you're fighting Goliath with a blindfold on and any one person is smaller than the organization right? And you'll continue to take hits and you aren't even sure where those hits are coming from.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 1:09:59
Wow. Great advice, Marsha. Well, thank you for this deep dive into seeing systems and how we can all begin looking for how we're sliding into the sideshow and what we need to do to shift back into the center ring and stay in partnership. And so, next week, we will be back for "A Real TOOT" and I can't wait to see how that goes.
Marsha Clark 1:10:23
That is a bit of a tease! Yes, so, thank you to our listeners for staying with us today. Again, there's a lot of information we shared with you and a lot to unpack, as we say. And, Wendi, as always, thank you for your stellar guidance keeping us on track today. And I just want to say to our listeners again, let us know if we can help you in this. I taught several workshops last week. And I was getting requests from other companies that people in my classes knew and they were literally telling other people about what a significant learning experience it was. And so, if this is something you think can help your organization, please let us know about that. We love hearing from you. And the partnership definition of being mutually committed to whatever process we're in and to each other, that 'and to each other' is really significant when I always say, "Here's to women supporting women!"
Transcribed by https://otter.ai