Leadership Narratives

Hyater-Adams, Yvette

Dr. Relly Nadler: This week’s show features Yvette Hyater-Adams. She is a successful entrepreneur whose history includes being a top executive in financial services and retail. Currently, she leads a talented team of consultants and Prime Directive Consulting Group. We will be talking with Yvette about her ground-breaking leadership work applying transformative narratives.

For those of you who want to get in touch with Prime Directive, we will have Yvette provide us with some contact information before she leaves the show today. For those of you who just want some highlights, Prime Directive delivers products and services to prepare leaders to lead changing organizations. This includes building strategies that integrate diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

They develop executives through coaching, not only to be better at relationships but to meet business objectives through scenario planning and building strong teams.

I think what Yvette’s organization does is masterful, it’s innovative, and it really breeds a new business culture through authentic relationships and effective infrastructures.

Now the use of narratives and stories in this process has proven really effective in facilitating organizational change with approaches such as appreciative inquiry, narrative therapy, and building business strategy through scenario-based planning. All these tools have been used successfully when designed for personal and professional development by Yvette Hyater-Adams and Prime Directive. So, welcome to the show Yvette.

Yvette Hyater-Adams: Thank you Cathy, glad to be here.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Well Yvette, usually we like to start the show is to find out a little bit more about you and your background. Maybe you can tell us about yourself and how you came to work in the field of leadership development.

Yvette Hyater-Adams: Well it started several years ago, although I am still a young pup here, while I was an executive at Sears, and later on at Macys in the training and employee relations area. I managed those two groups, and while there was always very interested in seeing new department managers exceed in their roles.

Later on, a little fast forward from my retail life, I got into the banking world. I had a wonderful opportunity at First Bank where I worked to specifically design a management and leadership development department. My work there eventually grew into acquiring all of the training and development, employment and employee relations for the bank. So, sort of like a recruiting / developing and retaining leaders right from the beginning.

That was really kind of the start and that was some 20 years ago.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Funny how time flies when you are having fun. Now, tell us a little bit about the people who have been most influential in your thinking as a teacher, as a coach; we heard a lot about your background as an executive, but I know that in your life you’ve had so many influential, universal beings help you and support you. Talk a little bit about them.

Yvette Hyater-Adams: Well when I think about it, I think my teachers come in many shapes and sizes, so I like to talk about those who have put their words on the page because so much of my work has to do with narrative.

I was probably, greatly influenced by Steven Covey. A lot of us who are in that end of the baby boomers and the beginning of the GenX generation and his work with the Seven Habits of Effective Leaders was such an important piece of writing that came out in the 80s. So, what that did for me, I think at that time even though I had worked as a training manager developing managers, it helped me understand the difference between management and leadership. That was a really important piece of reading, I think for me, not just the one book but I started to look at Steven Covey’s other books very deeply and they really spoke to me.

Also, I was really influenced Bell Hooks, who is considered a cultural critic. Her work really brought it home for me around how oppression hurts everyone. She did a lot of work around racial and gender oppression and when you look at the historical experiences of black women and black women living, dying and thriving under male and white dominated social structures. So she really taught me about that experience, the historical context, and ways to really heal from those social constructs and be about love. That was an important teacher to me.

I also like to think of Jean Baker Miller who did a lot of work on relational psychology. For me she really helped me think about my natural way of wanting to work relationally in order to build strength and how to go back and forth and not to feel as though I was in an either or paradigm, but to be in a win-win mindset. A lot of times I would enter to the workplace with that perspective in a genuine way and it would come across as not being trusting, or not being authentic, and it was quite disturbing as a leader to kind of be shunned off that way. In learning from Jean Baker Millers work, she really helped me to give some context around why that is so.

And then last but not least, I would say a lot of teachings from the Buddha, written by Thich Nhat Hanh. I love his writing and I think that he makes a lot of the information from the Buddha very accessible.

I find all of those teachers influencing me in terms of writers on the page.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: It’s a very powerful story that you’ve patch-worked together to here to give us an introduction to your work.

Dr. Relly Nadler: How would you define the difference between management and leadership? This is really more so for our audience because everyone has a different take on it.

Yvette Hyater-Adams: You are so right Relly, everyone does have a different take. As I describe the difference between management and leadership, a visual comes to mind. I can remember in a program I was in once where they had someone holding the ladder and then there was a figure at the top of the ladder kind of looking out over the top and they could see the whole valley. The person holding the ladder was looking down below, looking at the people who were at the bottom of the ladder really supporting the bottom of the ladder, so to speak.

I kind of think of that visual as management and leadership. I expect leaders to have a vision, give some guidance and direction, to really go through unchartered waters and I see management as the people who are the folks that really get it done. They have the tools, the access, they have the responsibility, they have the strength in order to help actualize that vision and that guidance and that direction. So that is the definition of leadership and management that I carry in me.

Dr. Relly Nadler: I think if you get the same visual as I did from Covey, because they talked about the leader, if people are chopping down trees, is at the top of the forest saying which forest should we cut down, and everybody is below chopping down the trees. You have to be sure you are chopping in the right part.

How would you define for our listeners, transformative narratives?

Yvette Hyater-Adams: Well, transformative narratives; it’s really a process for change, where you take reflective writing such as journaling which is one form of reflective writing, and you do deep listening. For me deep listening is to listen without interruption, without judgement, and also sharing your own story and to do that in a way that you can facilitate change.

Now, how that happens is that when people are writing and they are listening and story sharing, what tends to happen is that people will pick up some what we call, mindful habits; habits that they know that they need to change for themselves in order to really live the life they want to live, or do the kind of work that they want to do.

Most people have the answer inside of themselves. They don’t slow themselves down long enough to stop and see.

Listen to the entire interview above!


Leave a Reply