Your Brilliant Career Podcast

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This podcast provides an injection of energy and practical insights to women who are committed to their career. I share tactics, tools and stories that inspire capable women to think bigger and unapologetically achieve the success they deserve.

One of my early realisations was that there are many unwritten rules about career success that no one tells you. Smart women are tired of generic career tips. They want accessible, relevant and practical tips. Each episode includes content that inspires women to step up in their career and experience the energy and reward of being more.

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How Much of Your “Authentic Self” Should You Really Bring to Work? We hear bring your authentic self to work EVERY day but what does that really mean? This is what I will be exploring with Jocelyn Turner, Executive, Customer Resolution and Remediation at NAB.

The focus of the discussion today is authenticity. I think it's an apt one because Jocelyn, to me, is a very authentic leader. She encourages it in others – she has a team of about 1000 people at NAB. Now that’s a lot of people into inspire, don’t you think?

So today we’re going to be talking about authenticity at work. What it is, what it isn't and hopefully you’ll get the chance to walk away with some new and helpful thoughts around what is being authentic for you. And we all want to be authentic, right? 

Links we talked about on the podcast include:

RISE Accelerate program:

Gillian Fox Group:

Jocelyn Turner

My free guide - How to make your value more visible at work:

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Your transcript

Today’s guest is Jocelyn Turner, an executive leader from the National Australia Bank. She leads the Customer Resolution and Remediation team. It’s probably one of the toughest and high-pressure roles in the business.

The corporate side of my business is the Gillian Fox Group. We are often employed by large organisations to design and deliver programs that help organisation build the leadership pipeline for women. It’s a great work – we get to measure our results and work with incredibly talented women. You’d be surprised what these women achieve over the course of the program, which is normally six months.

With National Australia Bank – our brief was to deliver a comprehensive women's career advancement program for their emerging female leaders. The program was called Breakthrough. It delivered some incredible results for the bank. We saw a large number of women promoted and stepping up to new opportunities. We ran about 10 programs a year; training 200 women every year.

Over that time, we met a lot of fantastic women, who were the participants, and also a lot of senior leaders and Jocelyn was one of those. Beyond that we stayed connected. She's also been a guest speaker for me at some of our other programs. And we’ve organically become friends, which is a lovely bonus.

The focus of the discussion today is authenticity. I think it's an apt one because Jocelyn, to me, is a very authentic leader. She encourages it in others – she has a team of about 1000 people at NAB. Now that’s a lot of people into inspire, don’t you think?

So today we’re going to be talking about authenticity at work. What it is, what it isn't and hopefully you’ll get the chance to walk away with some new and helpful thoughts around what is being authentic for you. And we all want to be authentic, right? It’s too much hard work trying to be someone else. That’s for sure!

So, let’s dive in.

Gillian Fox: Jocelyn, welcome to the podcast. It is such a pleasure to have you here today. I think we are going to have a lot of fun.

Jocelyn Turner:

Thank you so much. It's an absolute joy. You know how much I enjoy working with you. So, this will be super fun.

Gillian Fox: And I love our topic today, Be Yourself But Carefully. And we're going to explore authenticity, which I think is a word people use in so many different business contexts, but I love the idea of us exploring it from that business context today. You're a very authentic leader, so I don't think there's a better person to hone in on this conversation. So, let's kick off with what is possibly one of the most important questions, and that is what is authenticity at work? How does authenticity look at work?

Jocelyn Turner: For me, a lot of what authenticity is about is about knowing who you are. It's knowing what your values are, the core of who you are, the core of what you believe in, and acting in congruence with those things so that people know when you say, "I passionately believe in customers," they then see you making decisions that are lined up with you actually being passionate about customers. They see you making decisions that are in customers' best interest. If you say, "I'm passionate about people or about colleagues", then you make decisions that are lined up with that. So, I think that for me is what authenticity is about, is that you are who you say you are. So, you are that person, you say you are that person, and then the things you do are in congruence with that, that the behaviour proves what you say you believe in.

Gillian Fox: Okay. So, isn't it then, if that's what it is?

Jocelyn Turner: So I think the stuff that it isn't, the stuff that people think about and cut off and say, "But when I'm authentic is if I'm..." if I'm very direct with someone and very rude to them, people will say, "Ah, but I'm just being my authentic self". It's like, well, yeah, I mean, yeah, you are, but actually, you're not doing that with any intent or purpose. So, you're not actually doing it to drive change. You're not doing it to have impact. You're kind of just being yourself without thinking about how you're trying to drive an outcome. Are you actually trying to have... So, you can authentically still say what you believe, but think about how it lands for the other person and help drive that through to change. And often I find people who say, "Oh, I'm just authentically being myself", are often not really thinking about what their values are. They're not acting in congruence with what they truly believe, and they're not thinking about actually the longer-term impact of what they're doing.

One of the things that I kind of link it to a little bit is what stage of leadership are you up to because there are three stages of leadership where it's am I just about my title, and often you find if you're kind of in that space of, "Oh, I'm just saying what I think and it doesn't matter", actually what you care about is your title or your role or yourself. You're quite deep in just yourself. And then there's the next bit, which is actually, am I more about the team, am I about driving deliverables and activity, but still, that's the second stage, and quite often authenticity in that space will have a direct impact on what you are doing, but you're not always thinking about the long-term relationship. And so, authenticity in that space can often be, "I will get this delivered tonight and I will burn everyone along the way and it doesn't matter", but actually then tomorrow when you come back in and you need to do the next thing, no one's going to work with you.

Gillian Fox: Yeah.

Jocelyn Turner: Because actually, yeah, great, you were authentic and you got what you needed to get done, but no one wants to work with you anymore because you haven't thought about actually the longevity of the organisation and your role and the purpose. And then there's kind of the third level which is really connected to how you're a purpose-driven leader. Am I driving long-term growth? Am I really thinking about how I not only deliver this thing that needs being delivered today, but how does that play into the longer term strategy? How do I grow the people around me? How do I support them? And all those things you can do authentically, but actually your impact is totally different, and your authenticity turns up in different ways. So, you might have the same value that you were working to, but actually it's turning up really differently.

Gillian Fox: It made me reflect actually, Jocelyn, those moments in my corporate career where things felt a bit wobbly and it was because of that lack of alignment with the values and perspective, and in my mind, it just didn't align to what a successful work environment should look like. I don't think you call it authenticity at the time because you just don't understand it, it just feels horrible, but then you figure it out, and it is a retrospect kind of realisation if you like. But I also love your points around what it isn't because I think you're absolutely right. Authenticity isn't sharing your life story. It isn't having a really deep, personal conversation with someone, particularly if you don't know them that well. It's not sharing unfiltered opinions about something or perspectives. It's not sacrificing other people's boundaries which is some of the stuff you were alluding to. There's a lot of things that authenticity isn't at work.

Jocelyn Turner: I think that's right, and I think to the point around other people's boundaries, if you're pushing into somebody else's boundaries, then actually you need to take a step back and have a really strong think about, yeah, I might be operating in line with what I value, but actually turning up and hurting somebody else, that's not behaving authentically. That's just cruel. So, it's kind of how do I still behave authentically, and how do we all get there in good shape. How do we all get there without having to damage someone along the way? Doesn't mean we don't stretch people. Doesn't mean we don't grow them. It doesn't mean that we don't challenge them. I don't mean any of that stuff. I mean, you don't need to turn up and hurt someone in some sort of attempt to be authentic.

Gillian Fox: Yeah, but I think that's what you do very well, Jocelyn, with your direct reports because some of it is about creating that environment where they have the psychological safety to speak up and say, "I have a concern, or we actually made a mistake today, and it's quite a big one", you know that safety which is very important in your area. I think we should tell everyone a bit about you and your career because I feel like that is such an important context to this conversation and why being authentic is so important to you in your role at National Australia Bank.

Jocelyn Turner: You don't really think about being authentic as you're growing your career. So, often, I think about lots of experiences that I had across my journey and I didn't think about authenticity at that point because I'm just learning stuff. They weren't words that occurred to me at the time. It was just a challenge that I had to work through. I had to work out what my values were and work out why things were and weren't working for me. I started off my career in consulting and I really enjoyed that. It was a great opportunity to learn a lot about models and how to think and how to process and how to do work and how to get into a problem really quickly and understand it and think about solutions. Then I joined NAB because it was the one organisation who I felt most strongly aligned to culturally, and this is my 20th year at NAB this year. So, that's a big year.

Gillian Fox: Incredible. Incredible.

Jocelyn Turner: I've loved every minute of it. Well, no, I say that. That's not true. I haven't loved every minute of it because you don't, and that's okay too. But what I have felt is I've always felt stretched and grown and developed. I've had a lot of opportunities. Some roles suited me better than others. I've always had good leaders either who I've directly worked for and given me good feedback or others around me who have supported me, grown me, given me good feedback, sponsored me when I needed it. Doesn't mean I've always had great leaders individually, but that's okay too because there's good people around who've kind of filled that role and who've helped me think about authenticity.

Gillian Fox: You have to tell them about this job of yours because it is quite unique and where the accent comes from.

Jocelyn Turner: Yeah. So, the accent comes, we'll start with that and then I'll come back to the job, where the accent comes from is I did, when I first left university, spend quite a bit, I worked in the UK, and then in consulting I did quite a bit of work in the US. So, it's kind of this strange convergence of accents which I've not sort of lost since being back in Australia for almost-

Gillian Fox: It's an international accent.

Jocelyn Turner: It's an international accent, made doubly surprising when you know the fact that my partner is a sixth-generation Australian farmer on the land. So, you can imagine his accent could not be any more Australian.

Gillian Fox: Love it.

Jocelyn Turner: His voicemail literally starts with g'day. You could not get any more Australian than my partner. So, it is an interesting mix. My job, so at NAB, I have a great title which is Executive for Customer Resolution and Remediation which all sounds really interesting, but basically what I do is look after all of the escalated complaints for NAB and I also look after all the remediation. So, basically, if we do something that doesn't work properly or hasn't worked properly and customers are impacted, me and my team get involved in that.

So, it's a great job because it brings together operations which I love because I really do love doing things efficiently. I am slightly obsessed by that. It brings together people. So, I love, love working with people. I love having the opportunity to impact people who I work with, and it brings together customer experience, and importantly, it helps me solve problems. We would solve, I think every day would be a moral or ethical dilemma that we're working through, and that's the stuff I really enjoy working out how we solve problems the right way. So, make a real difference and do it the right way.

Gillian Fox: Your day is problems. It is problem-solving.

Jocelyn Turner: All day.

Gillian Fox: All day, and it is the-

Jocelyn Turner: All day, of various scales, yeah.

Gillian Fox: It is the most unhappy people... Who are the most unhappy people? Send them to Jocelyn's department.

Jocelyn Turner: Yeah, that's pretty much it, yeah. But I think that's part of the reason why I'm so strongly clear about authenticity because what I have to do is I have to be really clear every day about why I'm making decisions. So, you can't just say, "That's my decision". You have to say, "Okay," because people don't learn, well, one, people don't learn from that. And two, no one else around you understands why you've made that choice, and often the choices you're making on the surface may not look quite right because sometimes I'll make a decision where... The first question is always things like what's your legal liability. You kind of start there and then you go, "Okay, well, that's interesting". And then you get into the space now of like, "Okay, what's my moral position on this? What do I think actually is reasonable? What do I think is fair?" So, being really clear about how you unbundle that, how you define that, where your boundaries are on that, it's really challenging.

Gillian Fox: Let's talk about conformity because I think conformity plays a big role when it comes to authenticity, and there is a lot of workplaces that create situations or work environments that really promote conformity, and I understand conformity to a certain extent is definitely necessary. But if an environment feels threatening, people are much more likely to act with such a high level of conformity that it lacks authenticity, and I'll give you a couple of examples. One example might be a woman worried about being passed over promotion because she is considering her role as a mum as being very important, but she doesn't want to speak up about that. Another might be really concerned about seeing microaggressions within the organisation, quite a extreme example, but is too scared to speak up about it, even though it is not congruent with their values. If someone listening to the podcast today is afraid of being more authentic at work, what would you say to them?

Jocelyn Turner: So, I've thought about this a lot because it just comes up all the time, and my first question to everybody in that situation is are you actually unsafe or do you perceive that you're unsafe because you've never had the conversation. So, often we build in our own minds a perception of being unsafe, but we've never tested it. So, that's always my first question. Are you really, actually unsafe? So, have you dipped your toe in the water? Have you tried? And I'm not saying to them, "Just walk in and push it to the limits". But have you tried to have the early conversation to see whether or not actually it's just because no one else talks about it that your perception is, is that it won't be welcome? So, that's actually, always kind of my first question.

Gillian Fox: You qualify first. That's the question.

Jocelyn Turner: Qualify first. Check, what is the real environment that you're in, or is it your perception of the environment? The other thing, I always have my second question which is also be really sure that it's not how you're turning up and asking the question. Because sometimes it's like it might be the environment's response, but sometimes it might be how you're trying to have the conversation because actually maybe you're having... Because what can happen to us is if you feel like your values are in opposition to the organisation's, you can turn up in a way that's actually quite aggressive and angry because you feel like your values are not being met.

I know, because this has happened to me on a number of occasions where someone behaves in a way that's not in accordance to my values, I get really angry and I behave in the same way because I'm angry with them, and you show up and it looks the same as the other person even if your intent is different. So, just kind of be careful about are you showing up actually in an open, listening, welcoming way, or actually you're not showing up in a way where the organisation can meet your values. So, sometimes it's them, sometimes it's us.

I think those are the first two things I'd work on. And then I have kind of a third question for people which is, you know what? There are 14 million jobs in Australia, and right now, there's 450,000 open vacancies. Now, I'm not saying that you're going to want to do all of those jobs, but I think there's also a point where we can emotionally and intellectually allow ourselves to remain stuck and unsafe in a situation. So, it's kind of like actually, firstly, are you unsafe? Then it's, are you doing stuff that's making it hard for the organisation to actually kind of meet you halfway? And then finally, if it really doesn't work and you are unsafe, get out and do something else. Do not leave yourself in an environment where you're unsafe because that's crazy because then you don't allow yourself to grow.

I've had a couple of jobs that I've done, and some of them inside NAB, where the leaders weren't right for me, the job wasn't right for me, and actually the greatest gift was either the leader saying, "This job isn't going to suit you", or people around saying, "This isn't the right place for you". And that's okay. That's a gift. Go to a place that is the right place, and then you realise you can grow there and that's fine. I'm an avid gardener. I've got some roses you put in parts of the garden and they grow, and some that don't and then you move them and they grow, that's fine. Some environments are hospitable to you.

Gillian Fox: I remember reading, it must have been one of the first leadership books I ever read, it was Jack Welch of GE who is now not deemed as a fabulous CEO, but when the book came out, everyone was all over it, and he said, "Dismissing someone for performance or for wrong business fit, he said, "it might feel awful, but it's one of the best things you can do because they are never going to flourish in that role. They're always going to struggle. Everyone's going to struggle, and it's never going to feel great. They are much better being released and have the opportunity to go into a business environment where they are valued and potentially loved and grown, and it's going to be a much better experience".

Jocelyn Turner: Kindest thing you can do for someone is tell them the truth, and if it's not working, help them find something that is.

Gillian Fox: Yeah, absolutely. So, I have to tell everyone, because I know this all about you because you and I really, we're friends in the background behind all the business, that you are this phenomenal photographer.

Jocelyn Turner: Thank you.

Gillian Fox: And you're also this passionate gardener and you live on this glorious property, and you bake, and you do all these things. You have a very full personal life. Let me put it like that. But you're also a senior executive at one of the largest organisations in Australia. So, tell us how that works because people at mid-level will say, "I struggle with work-life balance and having interests and being passionate about things", but you seem to have a lot of passions and you seem to do a phenomenal job at work. How do you make this work for you?

Jocelyn Turner: So, I think the thing that I'd say is that I give a hundred percent to whatever I'm doing at the time. So, if I'm at work, I'm a hundred percent at work. If I'm doing a still life, I'm a hundred percent doing my still life with my photography. If I'm in the garden, I'm a hundred percent in the garden, and that's my focus now. Doesn't mean that those things don't bleed in because often when I'm gardening, I'm thinking about something that I'm going to do at work. So, those things do bleed, and actually I think that's really valuable because what the gardening time gives me, and gardening in particular, and in particular having a farm, mowing lawns is a big deal.

Jocelyn Turner: I have a ride-on lawnmower, and it takes me about three hours to mow my lawns. My team hate, they just hate when I've done all of my lawns in one day because that's three hours thinking time with nothing else going on, on a lawnmower, and let me tell you, they... And ground that I know, so there's not a lot of thinking time about the lawn mowing. There's a lot of thinking time about work. If I have a big problem to solve and I'm quite distracted, my partner will put me on the lawnmower and me send off, say, "Do not come back until you've sorted out because you're being quite difficult".

So, there's a couple of things in that. One is that actually a hundred percent of when I'm there, I'm there, but I also use the time to do other things too. So, I am thinking about things all the time, and I find that they enrich and reinforce each other. I learn a lot on the farm that is actually incredibly helpful for work. We do a lot here about innovation and creativity because when you're on a farm, trust me, that's what you have to think about, and then the flip side is I'm really big on productivity. So, we do a lot of that thinking about work we bring into the farm and vice versa.

So, it self-reinforces, but it also fundamentally, the things that I try and do outside of work ground me because otherwise when we're doing the work we're doing, you can end up quite a lot in the stratosphere, and for us, my job particularly can also be quite emotional, and so what I do outside of work brings me back to earth. It grounds me, and I think it's really important when you're in executive roles and you work in an office and actually you start to think the rest of the world looks like you, and I can tell you the rest of the world does not look like us.

Gillian Fox: That is so true.

Jocelyn Turner: It really doesn't. So, we are 2% maybe of the population, people don't look like us. The real world doesn't look like us. So, if you are delivering products and services into real Australia, into the real people who need things, who have real purposes and concerns, who are worried about itinerant work, who are doing peace work, who don't always know when the next dollar's coming from, who are trying to... I'm not saying that those aren't things that we worry about in corporate life, but actually it shows up really differently in other parts of the economy, and it's really important to get out and understand who your customers are, at all levels of society. So, I find that really helpful to just keep my empathy but also my understanding of the purposes and concerns of other people front of mind by keeping my, I guess just keeping my life as broad as I can.

Gillian Fox: I feel like you need this creative outlet. It is part of who you are, and you delight in baking and having art exhibitions and running around the farm like a lunatic, and then getting back into this very executive environment and contributing to this very successful bank. So, it's really interesting, and I think it's a great example for a lot of women just to demonstrate that you got to find what helps you perform and what that happy place is, because when you find it, you do seem to operate at a higher level.

Gillian Fox: Well, Jocelyn, thank you so much. It has been such a delight to have a good chat with you today, and I know we could talk for another two hours, but it's been wonderful. So, thank you.

Jocelyn Turner: Thank you. It's such a pleasure. I really can't believe that we're done. A last reflection for people is I do go back to if you're not safe, please find yourself somewhere where you are. Because when you get the opportunity to work in an environment where it aligns with your values, where you can be authentic and yourself, the amount of growth that you get as an individual and in your career is just, it's mind-blowing and it's exciting and it's fabulous, and you deserve it. So, if you're not getting that and you can't get it where you are, you absolutely deserve it, so go and find it.

Gillian Fox: Beautiful. What a great message to end on. Thank you so much.

Jocelyn Turner: Thank you.