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Levo CEO Caroline Ghosn Takes Us Inside Her Thinking Talents

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Collaborative Intelligence is the measure of your ability to think with others on behalf of what matters to us all. It is emerging as the new professional currency of our time when the way we think, act, and innovate is shifting. In the past, “Market share” companies were ruled by hierarchy and top-down leadership. Today’s new leaders are “Mind share” companies, where influence and ability to work across differences is more important than power, and success relies on collaboration and the ability to inspire. Our client Al Carey, the CEO of PepsiCo Beverages Americas, put it this way: “The next great leader will be the diverse team. People who want to operate as the ‘hero-who-knows-everything’ will either change or become extinct.” Leaders who know how to maximize talent will thrive. We recently interviewed the CEO of Levo, Caroline Ghosn, who exemplifies the new Mind share leadership style, recognizing and fostering the Thinking Talents of each employee and growing her own Collaborative Intelligence.

[Read: Gender at Work: Who Has the Collaborative Edge?]

Dawna Markova and Angie McArthur: Describe your personal journey in learning to understand how to think with those who think differently.

Caroline Ghosn: As a first-time young entrepreneur the framework of Thinking Talents has helped me tremendously in high-pressure situations. I feel I can read people better, therefore make better decisions quicker. The impact on my team has been tremendous: we use the language every day as our way of supporting and understanding one another. By using the strategy of Thinking Talents, we have a shared framework for bringing our best to the table. Because I am in my 20’s with a lot of responsibility and leading those older than I, everything is compressed. Thinking Talents helped me grow, find my strength and develop myself in the way that I can authentically and comfortably lead. On a macro level this work has helped me narrow the disadvantage gap I have because of my age, experience, and knowledge. I feel much more in tune with who I am, which I think a lot of young leaders have yet to still discover. It also helps me lead with empathy. Because I recognize and value thinking diversity, I have a lens to understand what is important to my team, and that also makes me a better listener.

DM and AM: What has changed for your team since you have become more aware of your own Thinking Talents?

CG: I now lead from a place of love instead of fear. I am more trusting of others and myself, and I am more articulate with thinking differences. It was the missing puzzle piece for me to grow into my own skin. It has been the go-to tool to help me overcome challenges, and help others overcome theirs.

[Read: 15 Ways to Empower Others in 15 Minutes]

DM and AM: What are examples of how you personally apply your Thinking Talents throughout your day to increase your effectiveness?

CG: Even today I used it with a colleague to gather feedback. I was able to listen to her through the lens of her talents, which helped me understand her perspective and put it into a useable framework. She had Including and Feeling for Others for example; because I knew this, I trust her read on our cultural norms was very accurate, while it’s often a blind spot of mine.

DM and AM: What made you curious about Warren Buffet’s Thinking Talents?

CG: Thinking Talents offers you a way to understand someone in a snapshot. It’s a way to categorize their advice/mentorship style and how they make decisions, and give you a quick read on them. For Warren I wanted to really learn from his advice and feedback and the choices he made, and knowing his Talents helped give me a road map of what made him who he is today. He’s passionate, joyful, and has made such a huge impact on the world; I wanted to know what makes him tick–what energizes his thinking. And also to bring this to Levo community digitally since they would never get a chance to sit with him. His Thinking Talents are: Mentoring, which he has gone out of his way to connect and he is totally committed to mentoring. What’s remarkable is he is a teacher and a student at the same time. He cultivates people across his company with very foundational principles and he strongly values relationships. Humor, which he uses all the time; it helps make him approachable and engaging. Strategy, and Love of Learning: he’s an avid reader on all topics. Learning keeps him passionate and vibrant. It also makes his mind very powerful. Collecting: facts, objects since he was young. Having confidence: once he’s made a decision he is done, he never looks back no matter how challenging it may be. Thinking Logically, and Reliability: he always keeps appointments, and is usually early. People trust he’s going to do what he says 100 percent of the time.

[Watch: Office Hours with Caroline Ghosn]

DM and AM: What do you believe is the most important thing for millennial women entering the workforce today to know about collaborating with others?

CG: Our average age of user at Levo is 23, and 90 percent are female. You cannot collaborate until you collaborate first with yourself. We have a crisis of self-confidence with millennials that needs to be addressed. Collaborating with yourself is the basis for all successful future collaborations. To give an example I was part of a Facebook Q and A. At first there no questions, then suddenly there were hundreds of questions: heart-wrenching stories of worthlessness, people in pain, and so early in their careers. Themes of wishing/hoping/striving and then stagnating, or worse giving up. This is all such a waste of potential. This is what keeps me up at night. It can be prevented through the Thinking Talents framework. I would love to see every millennial woman be able to look at others, even older women square in the eye and overcome self-doubt. This is why we created the Levo Thinking Talent app using PTP’s intellectual property. I resonate with Thinking Talents and the other strategies of CQ so strongly and believe they can help this generation articulate who they are. It gives us a road map even for things like giving feedback; when they receive negative feedback, they can frame it as “Oh of course, this is just a skill I need to learn. I have all these other talents.” When given negative feedback, if you know your Thinking Talents you can compartmentalize it, and not have it be a reflection of your self-worth. You can gain appreciation for the talents you have and those you don’t (your blind spots). This distinction is so important, because so many young women let negative feedback diminish their self worth.

DM and AM: What do you believe women of older generations in their late 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s should know about how to create a bridge to thinking effectively with millennials?

CG: Remember what it felt like in your 20’s. Remember what it felt like to try to always look fine on the outside but be really struggling on the inside. In your 20’s you’re unsettled, you’re trying on different skins. Remember that they see you as older, settled, the end state they want to get to.

DM and AM: From your experience, do individual women know the value they specifically bring?

CG: They know that they have something to offer that has been missing at the table. Regardless of sex, I think this generation is more in tune with new age leaders, and diversity. They value different leadership characteristics– anti-command and control. They want leaders who are players and coaches. They believe that it’s probable for leaders to impart positive benefits of being a leader can cultivate more possibilities, by leading with collaboration.

This is an excerpt from the book “Collaborative Intelligence” by Dawna Markova and Angie McArthur. Copyright © 2015 by Dawna Markova and Angie McArthur. Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

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