A Leader as a Mensch

Martinuzzi, Bruna

Dr. Relly Nadler: This week we have Bruna Martinuzzi who wrote the book, “Leader as Mensch: Becoming the Kind of Person Others Want To Follow.” Bruna has had a nice background in a variety of leadership development focus and emotional intelligence; definitely one of the sweet spots for me.

Bruna is the president of Clarion Enterprises which is a training and development company specializing in leadership and emotional intelligence training and development. She has helped numerous leaders achieve personal effectiveness.

She’s the author of Leader as Mensch and also the co-author of The Power to Lead: Lessons in Creating Your Unique Masterpiece. Bruno lectures at the British Columbia Technology Institute in Vancouver and also at the Simon Fraser MBA Program, and at the Sauder School of Business MBA Program, as well as the University of Northern British Columbia.

She speaks at numerous events including the annual Telus Leadership Forums, the British Columbia Technology Industry Human Capital Symposium and the Westlink Technology Commercialization Program. She is a strong believer in the concept that self-awareness proceeds self-management.

She assists leaders in enhancing their self-awareness as a stepping stone for self-development and achieving their personal best.

Bruna speaks six languages and holds a BA and a MBA from the University of British Columbia. You are the recipient of several awards including the Izaak Killam Predoctoral Fellowship three years in a row. The Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the British Columbia Workplace Excellence Award for Unusual Innovation.

You’ve also completed emotional intelligence certifications from a variety of groups, the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence, to Hay Group. You are also a certified consultant in the de Bono Six Thinking Hats, which an interesting concept, and The Coaching Clinic for Leaders.

You bring to interventions several years of executive coaching experience having been certified as an executive coach from the Business School of the Royal Roads University.

Let’s start off, Bruna with who has been most influential in your life in regards to your role as a leader. Who have you learned the most from?Martinuzzi - LeaderasaMenschcover-195x300

Bruna Martinuzzi: Sure, with pleasure.

I guess I was very lucky. I’ve had a lot of good role models in my life. In particular, my mother. She was a very kind person. She had a generosity that basically knew no bounds. So she always instilled in me as a child.

The other person who had influence on me was a teacher I had who was a leader in the classroom. I still have her ethos in my minds eye. How she showed up, how she was passionate and engaged and really took her work seriously. It wasn’t just a job, it was a craft; it was a calling.

Later on, I was also influence by some very good CEOs that I reported to. One in particular stands out and that is Mark, he used to be the CEO of Northrop International. Mark had three values; caring, respect and integrity. He lived those every day. Even difficult times, times of challenge, he never wavered. I think that it is easier to lead when things are well. When everything is going well. It’s much harder to lead when there are challenges and that is when a person’s true character is revealed. That was Mark, he never wavered.

I also was very influenced by books and philosophers. I’m a book addict, and that is thanks to that teacher I mentioned earlier. So I learned a literature. I think we learn a lot about leadership from good literature—about how people behave, their values, and how they deal with mistakes and so on. In terms of philosophers, when I was much younger I was introduced to a Bertrand Russell. How is learnings in the context of happiness stayed with me as well and influenced me. I was blessed and I continue to be influenced by reading. One in particular is Jim Kouzes, who I consider a wonderful world educator on leadership.

Dr. Relly Nadler: One of the things I was impressed about your book, The Leader as Mensch: Become the kind of person others want to follow, is you have done a wonderful job integrating a lot of different folks. We both are very keen on emotional intelligence, but you also have work in there from Jim Collins, James O’Toole, Steven Covey, you just mentioned Jim Kouzes. I think you have really done a very nice job of integrating this into your writing.

Tell me a little bit, for people who don’t know, what is a Mensch?

Bruna Martinuzzi: I love to answer that question. A Mensch is a German word and it means a person or a human being. Now in English, it has quite a very special connotation. It means a person of integrity, someone who is honorable, someone who is decent, someone who is responsible. A Mensch not only know what is the right thing to do but he or she acts from it. By the way there is no gender, so if I say a lot of “he” I mean he and she.

Not only does he act from it, even at the expense of maybe a personal sacrifice or a personal hardship.

A Mensch is someone who is naturally kind and they don’t expect anything for their kindness. All they want you to do is just pass it on. So to call someone a Mensch, it’s basically the greatest compliment that we can give someone.

Dr. Relly Nadler: It may be work sharing the story that you have in the book about the first time you heard this with your dad and mom, and it gives a little bit of your background too, and then I guess it was your neighbor that you first heard call a Mensch? Do you want to share that?

Bruna Martinuzzi: I’ll tell the story briefly. The first time that I heard the word Mensch was in the 1950s, I was a kid. We had a neighbor who used to come every evening and spend time with us. He was Jewish. It was a time in Egypt that was difficult because there was a lot of mass exodus from people who were Jewish. They were afraid to attract attention to themselves. He acted differently that night. He was very warm when he left and he hugged us and so on. The next day it was my mother who said, I think there is something wrong with Sammy, he didn’t act quite himself.

So we decided to go to his apartment. When we went there he had left the door ajar and everything seemed to be in place. His clothes were there and his briefcase was where he normally had it. But, he had left a few little slips that to anyone who wasn’t accustomed to him wouldn’t look at just as random notes, but the slips had our nicknames on them. He had my nickname on his dictionary. That was a dictionary that his father had given him. It has his name engraved. He used to allow me to look at it but always telling me to be careful because it was his father’s gift. So he had left that for me as a gift.

For my mother he had left her nickname in an old carved wooden bowl that he had and that my mother used to fill with delicacies for him. For my father it was his pipe. Just a little note there with just his nickname on it, it looked like it was a random note.

My parents, I was a kid, put two and two together and that he had just left the country. In fact, he had. He had left everything just not to attract attention.

The reason he did that was because sometimes the people who are behind, friends or whoever, may have been questioned, may have gone through some inconveniences and so on. So he felt that it was better if we knew nothing to protect us. So that was a noble act until the end.

My father, at that point, well my father didn’t speak Yiddish but he had acquired some of these from some friends who used to drop by the house. He said, Sammy is a Mensch. That’s when the word stayed with me.

Dr. Relly Nadler: That’s a great story; you have it highlighted in the book. So at that point you were living in Egypt?

Bruna Martinuzzi: Yes, exactly. That’s where I was born. I spent my formative years there. I left when I was 17.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Bruna, what are the theoretical orientations that we both have around emotional intelligence. I know you have some competencies that we are going to go through, of a Mensch. How do these qualities, I think you call them, relate to the some of the emotional intelligence competencies that we know.

Bruna Martinuzzi: There are quite a few correlations with emotional intelligence. In fact, we could say that a Mensch is someone who has high emotional intelligence. So if we look at the four cornerstones of emotional intelligence; self-management, one of the crucial one’s emotional self-control. A Mensch is somebody who stays composed, who is positive, who has patience, who responds calmly to situations. So that is a key characteristic or competency.

The other two are authenticity and optimism. Optimism is having that positive in situations with people. So these are a part of a Mensch’s resource.

If you go to the next quadrant, social awareness. One of the key emotional competencies there is empathy. This is a key characteristic of a Mensch. It’s what defines a Mensch, that empathy.

Another similarity is service orientation. A Mensch always tries to be helpful, to be of service, to have a noble goal, to give something back to the team, to the community, to the organization, to society. So those are key competencies there.

If we look at relationship management or social skills, a Mensch is someone who places a great deal of emphasis on forging bonds. So they take great pride in healthy relationships and they believe that the quality of a relationship is a reflection on them.

All of these things; instilling trust, cooperation, collaboration, that are a part of that quadrant, are part of what defines a Mensch. Even conflict management. A Mensch is someone who is seen as a peace keeper; sort of a mediator. Someone who will always try to find some solutions rather than kind of escalate what is going on.

Finally emotional self-awareness; a Mensch is someone who has very strong self-awareness, is very comfortable in his or her own skin, just have that quiet, unassuming confidence.

As you can see there are some strong correlations there between the two.

For more of this fascinating discussion, you can listen to the entire recording above.


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