A #SHRM17 Interview with Cy Wakeman



Cy Wakeman is a significant thought leader, noted conference speaker and expert blogger with groundbreaking ideas featured in the Wall Street Journal, FastCompany.com, Forbes.com, hr.com, and SHRM.org.  She is the author of Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace, and Turn Excuses into Results and The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, and Will Make You Happier.  More importantly, at least to me, she has been a friend of mine (full disclosure) for years; and every time I hear her speak, whether to a crowd of thousands or a couple of us over some type of beverage, I always walk away with something new, useful and educating.

What key highlights would an HR practitioner gain from reading your book?

A Reality-Based Leadership philosophy that can eliminate drama (what I refer to as emotional waste) from the workplace through teaching and holding others accountable by using great mental processes. It gives leaders tools to build employees’ fluency in accountable practices and competencies necessary to succeed in the present and be ready for the future.

Why do you think that?

As I worked in my first leadership position, I realized how often what we were teaching leaders was exactly the opposite of what we knew from our research in the field of psychology, and the opposite of what would actually work in creating results and happiness in the workplace.

In practice, a leader should view their role as managing energy and ensuring the mental energy and physical energy and resources are directed in a way that will create ROI for the organization. The book describes practical ways leaders can focus less on perfecting the circumstances of their people and work instead to grow their people so that they are skillful enough to succeed in spite of the circumstances.

Are there other key points from your session that you feel HR practitioners would learn from, that are outside your book?

In my research, I have found that the average employee spends nearly 2 hours and 26 minutes per day in drama. Two hours per day spent on emotional waste in the workplace! Reality-Based Leadership gives people the tools and skills necessary to recapture two hours per day per headcount and reinvest it into results. The great by-product of the effort is enhanced engagement – especially from highly accountable employees. In fact, through my recent research we’ve shown that drama in the workplace is increasing, despite ample training and development programs which suggests current offerings aren’t effective, and our current approaches in leadership are actually fueling, not diffusing drama. I’ll show how conventional approaches to engagement and change management coddle our people, keeping them from stepping up into accountability and reinforcing victim mindsets.

What is a book you’d recommend, other than your own, that HR folks would benefit from? It doesnt have to be a straight HR book.

Parenting with Love and Logic. Although it is written for parents, it teaches a great approach to creating the space for others to be fully accountable for their own results. 

What speakers do you plan to see at SHRM17 and why?

Looking forward to hearing Kat Cole. I admire her grit to arise to CEO as a female leader with a strong entrepreneurial mindset.  Beyond her business success, I admire her skills as a leader who believes in constant evolution and choosing your path every day. I appreciate her worldly perspective and her strong connection to her causes including her humanitarian efforts in some of the poorest areas of the world. Like Kat, I believe our connection to the broader worldplace gives us real perspective and keeps us ready to respond to what’s next in life.

What is your can’t-miss recommendation for New Orleans, other than the conference of course?

I love to be around the water! I live on a lake, and enjoy any travel destinations that include the water – it’s so peaceful and calming to me, yet it’s where I find a tremendous amount of inspiration. I plan to check out some Harbor Cruises while I’m in New Orleans. I love seafood as well, so planning to check out some great local restaurants and cuisine, as well.  I am looking forward to exploring the area over the course of the conference!

Cy Wakeman will be presenting “The Drama Quotient” Mega Session on Tuesday, June 20 at 10:45 a.m. at SHRM 2017 Annual Conference & Exposition in New Orleans.  She will have a book signing at 12:30 p.m. in the SHRMStore following her session.



The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: