Work Culture Currency

It’s March Madness, so today’s episode opens with some reflecting on Diane’s connection to this annual college basketball tradition, and some valuable lessons on life, culture, and leadership from one of college basketball’s greats, Coach Wooden.

Work culture, and its importance to an agency, seen as work culture currency, is the focus of this episode. The Fire Insider Her has a returning guest with Trish Connolly, whom some of you may remember from episode 2. She and Diane offer a lot of wisdom and reflection on the challenging, yet extremely important, work of addressing culture within organizations.

They explain the difference between a technical problem and an adaptive challenge, and the fact you can’t resolve an adaptive challenge in the same straightforward manner you might a technical problem. No matter how much we try to simplify it or how much we like checklists. This conversation offers insight on where to put your focus when you are trying to support positive change, a lens that helps us all be on the same page when thinking about diversity, a useful perspective on the importance of belonging in DEI work, and an awareness that agency organizational culture is always the foundation and first step. They also discuss the important role that everyone plays in organizational culture, which really hits home with a poignant story Trish shares of a colleague.

Resources mentioned in today’s episode:

Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success

Did you enjoy today’s conversation with Trish Connolly?

She was also a guest on Episode 2

Trish Connolly lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband, son, and highly anxious dog- Duncan. She loves all outdoor activities, including mountain hikes, snowboarding, and mountain biking. She is a yogi, book club advocate, and inspiring meditator.

Trish works at Bend Fire & Rescue and has been with her department for 22 years. She was the first female firefighter hired at her department and now holds the rank of Deputy Chief.

The best way to connect with Trish is on Linked In:

How to connect with Diane: 

Instagram @TheRealFireInHer 

Linked In –

Are you excited to get your copy of the Self Care Audio download that Diane mentioned?

You can get that HERE –


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[00:00:00] Diane: Welcome to the Fire Inside Her podcast, A safe space for leadership, self-care, and community. I'm your host Diane Schroeder, and it is my privilege to be your guide on the journey to authenticity.

[00:00:15] Diane: It is one of my favorite times of year, March Madness, where we get to watch the NCAA men's basketball tournament. This tournament is always really special to me because it's one of my favorite memories with my dad. We spent years, my childhood memories watching college basketball, and it was always fun to watch the excitement of the tournament for the upsets, and of course, the champions.

[00:00:46] Diane: My favorite team is the University of Kansas, and I always go with my heart and hope that they win. Last year they finally did win, which was exciting. Even more exciting than that experience was five years ago when I got to go to the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas with my brothers and one of my best friends.

[00:01:08] Diane: When we got the tickets, we had no idea who the final four teams would be. And it just so happened that KU was one of them. They didn't win. They got knocked out before the final, but it was still such a great experience. One of my favorite college coaches, who is a legend, is John Wooden. He's called the Wizard of Westwood.

[00:01:30] Diane: He was the head men's basketball coach for UCLA in 12 years. He won 10 Division one titles, and seven were back to back. He is truly a legend. One of my favorite quotes from John Wooden is, "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are. While your reputation is merely what others think you are."

[00:02:02] Diane: This quote got me through some. Difficult, bumpy times in my leadership journey, and I reflect on it quite often. Another amazing tool that John Wooden created was his Pyramid of Success, and I'll put a link to that in the show notes. He created this incredible culture within his college team to continually win championships, but it wasn't just about winning the championships, it was building a cohesive team, a culture of excellence, and doing a great job.

[00:02:40] Diane: There's another definition when we talk about culture, about the currency of culture, and this comes from Tanum Davis Bohen of the Bohen Group. She says, "The currency of your culture is the intellectual wealth that an organization cultivates when it actively encourages the consideration of diverse perspectives, explores genuine expression of differences and learning, and executes acts of authentic inclusion so that each of its members sees a reflection of themselves in the collective." Today Trisha and I talk again. We sit down and we really dive into leadership and culture . We were inspired to start talking because of the death of Tyree Nichols in Memphis. And our perspective is from the perspective of culture. Not to judge the police and fire organizations and their cultures, but it really got us talking about how culture is currency and the culture of your organization is so important to tend to as a leader.

[00:03:50] Diane: 90% of budgets are typically spent on personnel, but the question I would ask leaders is, how much of your time are you spending on the culture of your organization? Identifying who are the keepers of your culture, and who are the keepers of the fringes of your culture so that everyone feels included and that they belong.

[00:04:11] Diane: Trish has some fantastic stories about this. It's another exciting conversation that I'm really happy to share with you. And the other episode that Trisha was on is episode two, and I will link that in the show notes as well. So without further ado, let's do this again.

[00:04:29] Diane: Hi, Trish.

[00:04:30] Trish: Hi.

[00:04:30] Diane: I am so excited that you're here.

[00:04:32] Trish: Uh, me too. .

[00:04:34] Diane: So for those of you listening, this is Trish Connolly again. She was on the show, I believe it's episode two, but the official show will be in the show notes. She's here this weekend. Her and her husband flew out so that we could go see a concert tonight with me and, uh, my partner.

[00:04:50] Diane: And we thought, why not take this opportunity to be in person and record a quick p odcast session on leadership and culture.

[00:04:57] Trish: I am so excited to be here.

[00:05:00] Diane: Yes. And really what got our conversation started, first of all, we always have the best conversations when it comes to leadership.

[00:05:06] Trish: Yes.

[00:05:06] Diane: And what really got this conversation started is, you know, talking about the recent events that happened in Memphis and Zero Judgment.

[00:05:14] Diane: As far as you know, we don't know the whole story in Memphis. We know that there's multiple sides to every story. So we're not armchair quarterbacking the events that took place or questioning the leadership that both the police and fire department their leaders, the journey that they're taking 'em on through this experience, but it just brings up a good.

[00:05:33] Diane: Topic on leadership and belonging and culture specifically. And I know that you and I have always talked about the importance of

[00:05:43] Diane: I think it's really important that we just, you know, continue to have that conversation from our perspective as leaders in male saturated professions. How we navigate that and really the importance of it, because it seems simple. Right? If you have a good culture, you're gonna have good people.

[00:06:03] Trish: Right, and your people are gonna feel good in the organization they're in. Um, it's simple. And yet, monitoring and having a good culture in your organization is really challenging, and I think it's really challenging for leaders to wrap their head around because it's not an easy button to do. Yet, it's, for me, my perspective, it's the most important work that leaders need to be doing all the time is assessing their organization and the culture that they have in their organization and continually making tweaks as the organization develops and as things happen in life that impact their

[00:06:49] Diane: right.

[00:06:50] Trish: Organization and culture.

[00:06:51] Diane: Right. It's the evolving.

[00:06:52] Trish: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:06:54] Diane: And growing with the organization. And I think, you know, it's really easy to say, okay, we're checking the lists. We have a recruitment team, we have a retention team, we have, you know, the, a talent acquisition, whatever you want to call it.

[00:07:07] Diane: You know the many words of trying to get good people, but if you get good people into your organization, they're not gonna stay in the organization if it's a crappy culture.

[00:07:16] Trish: Especially good people won't stay because culture is important to them. Yes. And so yes, like we do, especially in our industry in the fire service, which we know, we're behind tremendously with that D E I B uh, concept.

[00:07:32] Trish: And, and I think everybody has their hands in it currently. They're developing their DEI committees. But you're right, like all that work is not gonna impact that organization until they right their culture. Mm-hmm. and they understand that culture is the most important thing. It's the right work.

[00:07:52] Diane: Correct. And, and I couldn't agree more. And I guess, you know then, okay, so how, how do you make sure you have a healthy culture and how do you make sure that everyone feels like they belong and they are accepted for who they are? And we're not just talking about male female. , people of color, underrepresented groups, but everyone is the collective.

[00:08:15] Diane: How do you create a culture where everyone feels that they belong and they matter and it's a healthy, functional culture that really should drive then recruitment, retention, you know, cuz if you have a great place to work, the recruitment and retention of talent, it's gonna take care of itself.

[00:08:31] Trish: Exactly.

[00:08:32] Trish: People are gonna know that this is the place to work. And how you do that, I mean that is the great question. What I think is really important is that leaders understand that this is something they, they have to be very explicit in the culture they want in their organization. They have to act that culture at all times.

[00:08:53] Trish: They have to be the one that are diligent about watching everything that's happening, the stories that are going on in their organizations, the conversations that are being had. At the table officially, and then most importantly unofficially, because I think that's where you really start understanding where your culture is going.

[00:09:12] Trish: And that has to be in the forefront of their mind all the time. And then their people, their chief officers and their middle managers have to understand that they also are the keepers of the culture. Mm-hmm. And that they have to be diligent with it. And it's not easy. We're asking people to do hard work.

[00:09:32] Diane: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. .

[00:09:34] Diane: I read a fascinating study, last week about action steps for creating an inclusive culture. And you know, this, this sense of belonging, which is a different conversation than diversity because I think we all understand that regardless, you know, uh, you can have a room of 50 white, cisgender males; and it is a diverse room.

[00:09:59] Trish: Complete. Yes, because thank you for saying that. Yes.

[00:10:01] Diane: Everyone has their own experience and I think we as females understand that and we bring a different kind of diversity, but as you and I sit here as two white cisgender females, we're diverse because we have different experiences.

[00:10:15] Trish: Mm-hmm.

[00:10:15] Diane: And so the conversation, I think when we say diversity automatically goes to you know, putting people on defensive, you know, , the majority gets defended because we wanna talk about the importance of inclusion and belonging. So I think that the conversation really has changed and guided to look, we all want to belong and we all want to be welcome.

[00:10:36] Diane: So that's diversity in itself. And the study really talks about how at different levels in each organization requires different work. We were talking earlier today at my house about, culture is currency. Culture is the true currency and the true value of any organization.

[00:10:54] Diane: You can have your values written down, you can have all the policies and procedures and rules and regulations, but your culture is what drives that.

[00:11:02] Trish: Completely. Your culture will, as they say, will eat that for breakfast. Like those things that you're throwing out there, which yes, are important that we have those stated and we understand our mission. We understand our values, b ut if your culture is not backing that up, it's just, it, they're hollow words. Exactly. And that's what we're really trying to not have.

[00:11:23] Diane: Right. It's, it's not checking the box. It's, you know, and those, those conversations where the rubber meets the road are at the kitchen tables.

[00:11:30] Diane: Yes. You know, they're are at the water cooler. They're not in the boardroom. Yeah. You know. It has to be adopted at all levels. And really you can't expect people, and that's what really kind of stuck out to me reading this study was you can't expect your middle managers or your, you know, middle leaders and your new people to take some of the risks that the leaders of the organization should be taking.

[00:11:54] Diane: Oh,

[00:11:54] Trish: completely. And I've seen that, like if the leaders aren't willing to have those conversations and to be the keeper of the culture. Why, why would anybody else bother?

[00:12:06] Diane: Right? Right. It's what you permit, you promote completely. So if you say one thing that this is amazing and this is our values and we want you guys to all do this, yet do as I say, not as I do.

[00:12:17] Diane: Yeah. That's really confusing.

[00:12:19] Trish: It's, yeah, it's confusing. And then I I think we've already said it just feels like hollow words. And that's when you, start thinking that concept of belonging starts cracking, right? Mm-hmm. , like you say, I'm important, or you say this is important.

[00:12:35] Trish: Yet when you have an opportunity to defend it, and yes, it could be difficult. You chose not to, you chose not to do the hard work. Therefore I start not feeling valued. I start not feeling like I belong in my organization. I think that's a really important conversation to have and I love that you started it with that belonging.

[00:12:54] Trish: Belonging is about everybody, and everybody brings different things to the table, right? Diversity comes in all sorts of forms. And Yes, when people think diversity, they think color, they think sex, but it's just, it's a much, it's a much greater thing than that. And there's a lot of white males in my organization that don't feel belonging.

[00:13:18] Trish: And, and I've seen that. And because the diversity and their perspective, they feel isn't valued. So those feelings. Start eating way at an organization. Um, so I, I think that really is important to talk about what you said.

[00:13:37] Diane: Well, and I think it divides like, it, it's subtle at first and it's insidious and it's like, wait, I don't, I don't feel like I belong and I don't matter.

[00:13:45] Diane: And I'm not saying that underrepresented groups, they absolutely matter and representation does matter. And as a fire service, and many organizations, we need to do better to be more inclusive of all groups, underrepresented groups, males, females. I'm not taking away that importance. I'm saying sometimes I think we get so far ahead of where we need to be that we're not sure enough where we are.

[00:14:12] Diane: Yes.

[00:14:13] Trish: We're not, we haven't cleaned our house. Right.

[00:14:15] Diane: Right. And expressing and showing and valuing the members of our organizations currently and understanding, you know, it's, it's like, I think about it, my son, he's a really good student, but he kind of coasts so he is easy to fall through the cracks.

[00:14:35] Diane: Yeah. And I, I see that a lot with, I call it allies in the fire service of underrepresented groups. They kind of, you know, they don't really speak up.. But they don't really speak down. They just show up and do their thing. And you know, we call them the silent enablers, right? Like we wanna encourage people to all speak up and create that culture of belonging where it doesn't matter who you are, you feel valued and you'll speak up if people aren't being treated well.

[00:15:02] Diane: And that's across the board.

[00:15:04] Trish: Well and our allies. And I like that you said that our allies are truly so vital. and speaking up and, and, and caring for our culture and culture of organizations because I tell you as underrepresented person and our industry, I'm exhausted speaking up, right?

[00:15:23] Trish: Like, I'm like, does anybody, is anybody behind me? Does anybody have my back? Is anybody listening to what just happened? And so when you have your allies, that speak up and that are there to care for that culture and to support the values that we say that we have in that organization. You start feeling like people, that people get it and, and they support you and they support where our organization is going.

[00:15:51] Trish: Um, and I think it's just critical. So when that happens. I'm just like high five, man. Thank you. Yeah, thank you. And, and then I start feeling that belonging and, right. And, and so, but when someone, when everybody knows that something was said or something was done that doesn't support what the organization says it stands for. And what we try to tout when we ask people to test for an organization, like we're fantastic. And then stories get told or things start getting done that doesn't support that and no one says anything. You start realizing like, I is, is this really true?

[00:16:27] Trish: Like, what is this really important to people? Because we just. Said it's not important.

[00:16:32] Diane: We showed them. Yes. So how do we do that? You know, as well as I do, it's 25% right? You just need 25% of change makers. The tipping point. To be the tipping point. Yes. And it's hard to be that tipping point, right?

[00:16:43] Diane: Yes. It's, it's really a lot of work. But 25% is a small number.

[00:16:47] Trish: Relatively speaking. Yes. Relatively speaking. I mean, it's still really challenging to get there, right. Um, but yes, it's not like you need a majority.

[00:16:57] Diane: It's not insurmountable.

[00:16:58] Trish: As we're having this conversation, a light- I just had this moment where I'm like, that 25% that, that includes our allies. Cuz I always think, well we need 25% of women, you know, plug in, whatever. But really if you just have 25% of the people who understand that they're the keepers of the culture, right. That's what we need. It's empowering. Empowering. And I think what's really important, cuz you brought up, what happened in Memphis.

[00:17:24] Trish: And so I really, I've been listening, and that it's, um, it's really hard, um, to listen to , and these stories are so hard to hear over and over and over again. Um, but what I think is really important that leadership and leaders and people and organizations need to realize that when we don't keep our culture, when what, what we allow can destroy us, right?

[00:17:48] Trish: Yes. And so that they're going through that right now, what they allowed. what, what happened could very well have been supported by their culture and now they're, they're being destroyed by that.

[00:18:01] Diane: And, and we don't, we don't know what the details are, but it does appear to be that way.

[00:18:05] Diane: And it's, it's hard cuz I can think throughout my career of, um, times where, yeah, the culture eats itself .

[00:18:13] Diane: Absolutely.

[00:18:14] Diane: And, and it becomes the lion's den. it becomes really toxic and unhealthy where no one feels safe completely. No one feels like they belong. And people, no one feels seen.

[00:18:23] Trish: And people are empowered, feel empowered that they continue to exhibit and to act in behavior that is destructive.

[00:18:30] Trish: And, um, and I think this is what we need to, to be really careful that is not happening and that's how important for me, I'm like, this is how important culture is. That it can slip. It can slip and be steadily moving in this negative direction unless we're, we're constantly vigilant.

[00:18:49] Diane: Mm-hmm.

[00:18:50] Trish: That easily can happen.

[00:18:51] Diane: Well, it becomes that priority. You see it and it, it starts with difficult conversations. It also starts with empowering your employees and giving them tools for like emotional intelligence and really understanding their own selves and giving people in your organization space to do some professional development on themselves. Absolutely. I think we wait until, oh, you wanna be a leader? Okay. Then we're gonna start with the professional development. But why would we just call it human development as an adult. Start giving people those tools when they start, when they're new to an organization. That culture ground up.

[00:19:26] Diane: That's one layer of it, you know? And then, So that's a place you could start at the beginning and then it becomes about accountability. Like empowering everyone to be accountable to align what you see your culture being, what you say your values and your mission is, and aligning those, holding people accountable to that.

[00:19:45] Trish: Absolutely. Like when people are not, when people see other people not being held accountable, they start realizing that, uh, you know, false words are being spoken and so I completely agree with you. And I feel like that culture starts from the second they even test for your organization. that first interview.

[00:20:01] Trish: I feel like that mission, vision, values is really important and that is really something that is developed by the entire organization, is held true and is pervasive through the organization. For us we bring it up in testing. We bring it up in, uh, our annual evaluations. Is our goals of the organization supported by our, our values. Like what are our values and is our goals reflective of that? And having that central in our communication, um, and our strategic planning. Yes. So that's really important.

[00:20:35] Trish: but then you have this really difficult thing to put your hand on, which is your culture. That also, has to be pervasive through everything you do, everything you say and every story you hear. And yes, everybody has to be held accountable to that.

[00:20:52] Diane: It's interesting cuz I was asking, the guys that I work with, and some of them are younger and I, you know, so I'm asking him about diversity and all these, these things and belonging.

[00:21:01] Diane: And one of the kids, I call him a kid, he's not a kid, but he said, you know, chief, do you ever think that maybe that this is a problem upstairs and not necessarily a problem within the organization? Like do you, do you really, like, is there a miscommunication? He doesn't necessarily see it the way that I see it.

[00:21:21] Diane: And again, we start, you know, in leadership roles, we're thinking one thing and we're- we've gotta change. Gotta change. Is it the entire thing that has to change? Is it a few people that has to change? Is it like a rank that has to change? Is it a generation, you know, so many questions.

[00:21:36] Diane: Is it a shift? And, that's even complicated too, especially in the fire service because now we're taking people that come from diverse backgrounds. And oh, by the way, you're gonna live together for 48 hours at a time. You're gonna see a lot of traumatic things. You're gonna have to deal with a lot of stuff.

[00:21:51] Diane: And we want you to be a healthy, functional culture. Yet, I mean, how many of us come from healthy? We don't have a family, right? Like, I mean, I, , so again, recognizing how complicated it is, but I think also talking a little bit, if you don't mind sharing, about your engineer last summer, we were talking about, um, how he was an example of creating an inclusive culture Yeah.

[00:22:19] Diane: And white, cisgender male. Yep. Who was a light.

[00:22:24] Trish: Yeah. And, yes, Diane and I were talking. My organization has suffered, a few tragedies since I've worked at my organization. Um, and one of our last ones was last summer where one of our employees and an engineer who worked for our department was killed in a, uh, plane accident.

[00:22:43] Trish: And he was loved and on, and he was one of you know, you say he was one of the, our, our allies. He is just a tremendous person. But, and I always knew that, but after his death, so many things came to light and I really started realizing that Daniel had so much that he was teaching us about leadership.

[00:23:04] Trish: Um, and about being an ally. And he himself, the stories that came up, which I wish I knew beforehand, which I really realized that he was the keeper of the fringes of our organization. He was the one that was creating belonging the entire time through everything he did, the text messages he would send people, how he would connect with people. The stories that people told, like as soon as I sat down at the table and we had a female firefighter just hired, and of course being a female in a male saturated culture can feel overwhelming, and he was immediately like, I heard your dad flies airplanes, I cannot wait to meet him. And would figure out how to connect with someone and then keep that connection going. And everybody had these stories and him, when he came to our organization, he was very much on the fringe. Because he was very authentic in who he was and he, and he didn't, , he didn't change his authenticity to, to try to fit, you know?

[00:24:04] Trish: Mm-hmm. , like, he was like, Hey, this is who I am. And there are people who struggled with him for quite some time. And I watched that relation, I watched him and how he dealt with that. And I, there was some concern for me. I wanted to make sure he felt that belonging. But you also have to let someone be authentic and be who they are and sort of like, We don't want them to mold like that is the opposite of what we want people to do.

[00:24:27] Trish: We want them to bring their authentic self, bring what they, their values and and their uniqueness and change your organization for the better. Right? And he made sure he was doing that. So all these things that he brought to the table, I realized like, Daniel was a true leader in our organization and he really was someone that I was like, I need to emulate that behavior.

[00:24:50] Trish: I need to take care of the fringes. I need to make sure people are bringing their authentic self to the table, and then making sure that people are giving them room to be who they are. And sometimes, like you said, that can be a very, um, painful, it can be a challenging and painful process, and I'm sure it was for him, but he never backed down from that and he made his way there and just, and then made our culture so much better.

[00:25:18] Diane: I love that story, and I, I, what I hear when you say that is, you know, it's, it's simple but difficult. Oh yeah. We wanna create a healthy culture where everyone feels like they belong and can be their authentic selves.

[00:25:32] Diane: Right? Because life just works better that way.

[00:25:34] Trish: And it sounds so awesome and, and easy and cute and all those great things, and it's hard.

[00:25:40] Diane: So then how do you standardize that? Yes. Or fit that in? I mean, not really a, I don't like to use box cause I think boxes are bad. But how do you fit that into a culture in an organization where you bring all these diverse perspectives and experiences and who they are and let people be genuine while living together or working closely together in a functional team with, you know, I, I think it's the common goal for our profession, fixing people's problems. So whatever the common goal that helps unite people, right? Yep. Common goal or a common enemy completely focus on the common goal. Yes. And you know, it's, if, so, if Daniel was an ally and all that, it leads me to believe that there's probably more sprinkled throughout the entire Absolutely.

[00:26:25] Diane: You know, fire service of these silent, allies who are helping and creating positive change in culture and connecting people on a very authentic level. How do we create a safe place for more to step forward?

[00:26:39] Trish: Absolutely. And I think it's recognizing when you have individuals that are trying to really do that. And you, you said something, um, about in our line of work, you know, you have your management team and then you have your line staff. And once you get to a certain point , I sit in an office and I work every day. I'm not part of that. It's lonely. Yeah. So how do I keep my pulse on a culture that I'm not even infused in it much anymore.

[00:27:11] Trish: Yet

[00:27:11] Diane: Responsible, yes. For making sure it's thriving.

[00:27:14] Trish: And that, and that is the challenge for leadership, and they have to realize like you have a wall between you and, and the line staff. You may have not have created it, but because you're not infused in those crews all the time and you sit in your office and you have these other responsibilities, your pulse on your culture is, is not as strong as it once was.

[00:27:33] Trish: So we're gonna get back to that's why it's so important that you're giving people permission and power to beekeepers of the culture, and you're telling them this is the most important work you can do. And part of that work is recognizing people who are making those positive impacts, who are showing up to work authentically, who are the keepers of the fringes.

[00:27:58] Trish: taking what they're bringing to the organization and then trying to grow that. And talking to Daniel's battalion chief, he's like, I knew Daniel was like that, but I didn't realize how pervasive his positivity, his support, who he was, how it impacted people. And now I wish that I had supported that even more.

[00:28:19] Trish: And so it's recognizing those people and saying these are the kind of people that we want in our organization and making sure that those people are promoted. Mm-hmm. , making sure those people have as much influence on your organization as possible, because those are the ones that are your keepers.

[00:28:35] Diane: Right. I think what you focus on grows and so often we find ourselves in leadership roles focusing on maybe not the behavior we want because we're trying to correct that behavior, right? Or the small percentage of an organization that is really has a pretty, can be sometimes very toxic influence. So we're working to stop that, hold those people accountable or we're not, because, you know, it's, it's hard.

[00:29:01] Trish: It's hard.

[00:29:02] Diane: But what if, as leaders focused on the Daniels, the, the positivity, the, you know, authenticity and really promoting that, because that is equally, if not more contagious Yes. Than the negative. Yeah. Or the poor attitude or the rumors and the gossipy stuff. What if we created that safe space and encouraged it, like you said, as your middle managers, your company officers. The people in the middle that have that connection to both executive leadership and the workers, line staff. What if we focused on that and we encouraged that as leaders, be like, look, yeah, keep promoting that because that I think is equally as contagious.

[00:29:43] Trish: Absolutely. And I feel like when you have people in your organization that are trying to do that and that their work is not recognized, and they're not supported, because that work is hard, we could see them just getting burned out on their work. Just like, I don't wanna be the one that's always saying, Hey, can we use these terms? And hey, we're not looking at like that anymore. I don't wanna be the one that's always stepping up saying, please, like, let's talk about firefighters, uh, not firemen.

[00:30:11] Trish: We don't wanna burn our people out who really wanna make positive impacts on your culture. So yes, I think it's so important that we recognize that and the power those people have in the organization. And people may not recognize that power until they're not there anymore.

[00:30:25] Trish: And that's a really sad, sad thing. Mm-hmm. But I think what, for me, what I can do, to perpetuate Daniel's legacy is I can realize that, um, that work that people doing, that people may not talk about it all the time, but it is making huge impacts and to support that. At the same time, we do have to recognize when we have some toxic things going on in our culture is to realize that leadership is hard.

[00:30:52] Trish: And that's part of the tough leadership is addressing that toxicity and figuring out how to correct that. Because what we allow; yeah, we support. So also at the same time, we need to be doing that. But I agree, I think we forget that part of supporting the culture, supporting the people that are doing a really good job, um, developing it in the way we want it to be developed.

[00:31:14] Diane: It's the humble kind of subtle, I'm assuming Daniel, it sounds like Daniel was, and I, I can think of people that I've worked out for my career that are like similar and, you know, they may not want, when you say recognition, it's not like they want, rainbows and unicorns and you know, glitter bombs every time they come to work to like, you're here.

[00:31:32] Diane: It's, it's, look, I see you. Yes, it's, I recognize you. Thank you for all the work you're doing. How can I help make it better?

[00:31:40] Trish: Completely.

[00:31:41] Diane: What can I do to support? So it doesn't have to be a big thing. It's a, it's a sidebar conversation. Give me ideas. How do you do this? Like, pick, pick. Those brains cuz they're gems and it's really, really important to, you know, acknowledge that.

[00:31:56] Trish: And I love that you say that because one thing that Daniel did and he, he would text me, he'd text the chief and he'd say, I recognize the work you're doing is really hard. I recognize that you guys have such challenges and you may not always feel supported, but I wanna say, I appreciate the work you're doing and you're doing great work.

[00:32:18] Trish: And that I was, I'd be like, thank you. Right. , right? But like that was small like that. And I think those are the little things that he did all the time. And those are the little things as leaders that. we need to be doing all the time. I'm trying and, and it can be challenging. We have these jobs we need to do.

[00:32:37] Trish: I get really task focused. I'm, I love to make lists and then check boxes off and be like, I'm moving forward. But really the right work also is in getting in front of people and having conversations. I try to write notes to people saying, congratulations on this, or Thank you for your work on this.

[00:32:54] Trish: And so people feel recognized in your organization. And I think that also is the work we need to be doing all the time. And that's the hard work because for me, I feel like I'm not moving my tasks forward.

[00:33:05] Diane: Right. Well, and it's, it's a lot of things. You're juggling a lot of things. It's walking a fine line as a leader. Yeah, because the same, you know, you've also gotta be able to hold people accountable. And I think a lot of times leaders struggle with that. Like, oh my gosh, I can't have a personal relationship with you because I might have to hold you accountable.

[00:33:23] Diane: And I personally disagree

[00:33:24] Trish: I Disagree as well.

[00:33:25] Diane: It makes it really hard to be authentic and genuinely lead your people. If you don't care about them completely and care about them on a, a deep level. However, it also means you care about them enough to hold them accountable.

[00:33:38] Trish: Absolutely. One of my mentors always said to me, I keep this close to me when I'm have to have those difficult conversations, is that when you come to that space with someone, because you really want them to be successful mm-hmm.

[00:33:53] Trish: and you realize this is a barrier to their success, then you're having the right conversation and it's gonna be hard, but you're coming there with an open heart and you want the best for the individual. And we always remember those difficult conversations if they're back with the heart and if they're back by really wanting that person to be successful, then it's the right conversation to have. And when you don't have that conversation, because you're scared of it, you are doing such a disservice to that person in your organization. Mm-hmm. It's just really important to keep

[00:34:21] Diane: that in mind.

[00:34:22] Diane: Well, it is and it's ongoing and those aren't skills that necessarily come natural to a lot of leaders.

[00:34:28] Diane: I definitely think it's probably a more feminine aspect of leadership. It's the more emotional side. It's not so much. Um, , strong masculine. Do as I say, say as I do, but really tapping into your feelings. And I'm not talking masculine, feminine as men and women, we all have both qualities.

[00:34:45] Diane: Absolutely. It's the yin and yang yes. Um, of life, but really kind of tapping into that and it, it. opens you up to be vulnerable. Not just authentic, but vulnerable. Cause now you're showing people that you care and that can be kind of scary too. Yeah. Um, I also think part of culture issue, culture struggles is the technical problems versus adaptive challenges, which we learned about several years ago.

[00:35:08] Diane: Yeah. And I see how true that is. And so for people listening, like a technical problem is, I'm having a hard time getting this software on my computer to work. Can IT come fix it? Boom. They fix it. Now the problem is we're having struggles with our culture. Great. Can we just have it come fix it? , right? It doesn't work.

[00:35:25] Diane: And a lot of times we really want it to work because technical fixes are usually pretty easy. You can get it done in a timeframe. That thing works now and life goes on. Culture or those adaptive challenges, you're changing hearts and minds. And you are, you know, at the tip of the spear, you're trying to, you know, understand people and explain things in a, the microcosm of your organization while funneling all the information from the metaverse and the society of what's going around to try to keep your bubble healthy and functioning.

[00:35:57] Trish: And I think with adaptive challenges oftentimes, You're disrupting. It's a disruptor Yes. Sort of thing, right? You're going to make people uncomfortable. You're gonna ask them to really, analyze their behavior, analyze their values. You're going to disrupt. You're putting the heat under the organization and you're saying that like, this isn't an easy fix.

[00:36:18] Trish: And this is gonna be uncomfortable for all of us. And that's why people with adaptive problems, they shy away from adaptive problems because that, that is just challenging.

[00:36:27] Diane: Well, and it becomes less about fixing the adaptive challenge and more about silencing the disruptors . It's like, you know what? I don't wanna hear any more of these.

[00:36:35] Diane: It's too much change. It's too much. You know, it's, yes. It's finding that as a disruptor, you know, to find that balance of pushing at the rate yeah organizations can handle it. Right, right. And still keep pushing, not get burned out from being the one pushing. Right. And

[00:36:52] Trish: also, and not turning everybody off because you're pushing them too hard.

[00:36:55] Trish: You gotta push people to the point where they can make those changes. Not to the point where they just, they they turn their back on it.

[00:37:02] Diane: Right. And they shut down.

[00:37:04] Trish: Yes. And that's really hard . when you question people's culture, when you question what's happening, and I this is from personal experience. People are really defensive, right?

[00:37:14] Trish: And I think when they have something that they know isn't quite right, um, they, they come with their pitchforks and their elbows out. I'm like, okay. So, what they're telling me is there's an issue, there's an issue that needs to be addressed. And they're scared of that.

[00:37:30] Trish: They're scared of the disruption you're about to start because they're comfortable with what they have going on. Right. I feel like those areas where you're like, Hey, I'm gonna ask you a couple hard questions about this, and they're like, let's explore. You're like, okay. They're, they're pretty open to what's happening. I think that comes down to the stories that are being told.

[00:37:48] Trish: that aren't your official stories, but those unofficial stories tell everything about your culture. Mm-hmm. . And so I just feel like those kind of changes are challenging for people and they, and, and people feel like personally attacked. And I think that's when it's really important to realize like, Hey, we're not personally attacking anybody. We're looking at things that are going on in our organization that we don't think supports our culture.

[00:38:10] Diane: I think it also goes back even a step further when you encounter that as a change maker, as like, look, I see that my culture is not healthy. I, I want action steps to take it.

[00:38:20] Diane: First of all, there's no roadmap that's like, yeah, easily mapped out. I think it's pretty bumpy. It's, you know, it's the same but different journey to learning to be authentic and really embracing who you are. If you encounter people are defensive and shut down. Like that's a red flag to say, okay, before we do this, we need to make this a safe space completely.

[00:38:43] Diane: Before I can talk to you about culture, I need you to put your guard down and be safe and feel like you belong.

[00:38:51] Trish: The chicken or the egg. I'm, and I'm hearing you. Yes. And I think I, I read something somewhere, and I always think about this. That when you're ready to sit down with someone and have a hard conversation, you have to be willing to sit at the same side of the table with them.

[00:39:03] Trish: Mm. And I always think about that. Am I ready emotionally to sit at the same side of the table with them and have this conversation? And sometimes I'm not ready yet. Like I have to get there. And, and so I think that's really important. Like you've got to be there with that person. And I think once you open up to, once they realize that you're not there to attack them, then real change could be made.

[00:39:25] Trish: But you have to realize that people are gonna be defensive when we're talking about these culture, we're talking about adaptive challenges. Ugh so much.

[00:39:34] Diane: Well, and then to tie it back in Yeah. To diversity and to tie it into equity and really belonging. Yes. It starts at culture.

[00:39:42] Trish: Mm-hmm.

[00:39:43] Diane: No, it's really not an easy fix and we don't really have a plan or solution cuz if we did, that's the million dollar solution, right? You take these action steps,

[00:39:51] Trish: it would be a technical problem. Right, exactly. We're talking about a challenge. Yeah. We're talking about adaptive problems. Right.

[00:39:57] Diane: So as, as a leader, I think it's just really.

[00:40:00] Diane: It, it's awareness. It all starts with awareness, regardless of, you know, you have got to know yourself as a leader. You've got to know where you stand, what your values are, your purpose. Everything that you have as a human. And then does that align with your organization currently?

[00:40:17] Diane: Can it align with your organization in the future? And then, you know, okay, how do you start making that change before you can even really worry about recruitment, retention. You know, how do you get what you have, the culture that you have, the employees, that you have staff that you have to start buying in on this healthy culture change to start moving that needle

[00:40:40] Trish: Absolutely. I think it's about being able to be really succinct about the expected culture that you want in your organization, and then giving power to your leaders and your middle managers to make that happen. And not only just power to make those changes, but really recognize that what you're asking them to do isn't easy.

[00:41:01] Diane: Mm-hmm.

[00:41:01] Trish: But it's your expectation that this and being really clear that this is the expectation of the organization. And then when people see that, like then that helps shape that. But you can't do it all by yourself. You have to be clear where you want your organization to be in the culture you wanna have.

[00:41:16] Diane: Mm-hmm.

[00:41:16] Trish: Then you have to create the people that care for it, and the expectation that this is the behavior you want, and then I think you need to have your ear to the ground. To the stories that are being told, the ones that are negative to the red flag those and being like, okay. And also the stories that are positive that you want to grow.

[00:41:36] Trish: Like Daniel.

[00:41:36] Diane: Mm-hmm.

[00:41:37] Trish: Right? I think that's such good steps because you're right. Without a healthy culture, the DEI , we're not ready for it.

[00:41:47] Diane: Right. We're not ready and, and it's okay to not be ready for it. What's not okay is to not acknowledge it. Right. You know, to continue to do what you've always done because it's easier because you just don't really know what to do or because it's the way we've always done it.

[00:42:05] Diane: It's our tradition. It's our history, that's not okay. Right. And, and I think it's, you know, and this could be a whole different episode is, you know, especially in the fire service, it's gotta change. Yeah. You know, the fire service itself, it's changing.

[00:42:21] Trish: You're right. And, and by saying we're not ready for it, that could be a, uh, a real big

[00:42:25] Trish: excuse to not move forward.

[00:42:27] Trish: Right. And that's not what I'm saying. I'm like, yes. The culture is the pillar that's gonna support that d e i stuff. What I want, and I think we, we both know needs to happen is like we just can't form these committees because that's what we think we need to be doing, and that they're, like you said, they're just window dressings to your fire department.

[00:42:46] Trish: So you say, Hey, we're trying to do something, but to really make impact. We have to realize the foundation is your culture, and then you build on that foundation and you start making real change.

[00:42:57] Diane: Well, and if you put the work that we put in for EMS training, for fire, training for, you know, all the. The actions that we take.

[00:43:06] Diane: If we put the same amount of work and passion and energy into creating a healthy culture and building inclusivity, and building belonging and building, you know, that psychologically safe space to come work, where people can be authentically themselves and they know that when they show up, they just belong and they can not have to worry about all those other things- imagine the difference that would make. Absolutely. I mean, the sky is the limit.

[00:43:31] Trish: Mental health, I mean, like right there man, right

[00:43:35] Diane: there, right. And as data starts to come out that mental health and how you feel at work emotionally is directly related to your performance. It's related to your injuries, it wears on your mental health.

[00:43:47] Diane: So that's also very important to consider.

[00:43:50] Trish: We talked about a little bit. Leaders of the organization, they've lost that huge pulse on the culture a little bit because they are sort of removed. But those are the things that, what you just said is one way that they really can monitor that sick leave, that long-term leave, those mental health issues.

[00:44:07] Trish: That's all reflective of your culture. Absolutely. And so there is data that leadership is looking at all the time because it's about budget, right? Wait a second. Something's not right here. Okay, let's dig into this. And that is reflective of your culture. Happy organizations have good cultures.

[00:44:25] Trish: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm.

[00:44:26] Diane: and thriving. And, and it's just, it's important that we continue the conversation and it's just really important that , everyone has to be in part of this conversation. So if, if you're not ready to be part of the conversation, then you know, you gotta check yourself. You've gotta, you know, figure.

[00:44:44] Diane: What needs to happen to get you ready to be part of the conversation, especially as a leader. If you're not a leader, if you're an informal leader or a boots on the ground employee, you're not in the ivory tower. You're not them. You're, you're us. What advice would you give?

[00:44:59] Diane: To, well, I to with the culture. Like how do you do that?

[00:45:02] Trish: Just as we, all of our brothers keeper, right? For me, that's about culture. And for, I tell people as soon as you walk into the organization, you're forming your informal leadership. Like informal leadership is even more powerful than formal leadership.

[00:45:19] Diane: Agreed.

[00:45:19] Trish: And. . You need to understand that everybody, as soon as they walk into that organization, that is your responsibility to understand that culture. Where we are, and where we need to go, and to be Daniel, man. Take care of your people. Take care of the fringes. Come to work with a positive attitude.

[00:45:40] Trish: Work can be challenging. When we look at it that we're in this together and that we keep that positivity going like that is affecting everybody. Yes. So like remember, like we are all leaders in this. Every single one of us in the organization.

[00:45:58] Diane: I agree. And it's, it's what, again, it goes back to what you focus on grows and Yeah.

[00:46:02] Diane: You know, it's not saying that you have to pretend everything's fine all the time. I think being positive is, uh, definitely a mindset and you be that change that you wanna see. And also it's that being authentic and genuine, like, man, that was tough. Or there are gonna be tough days at work. Absolutely.

[00:46:20] Diane: There's gonna be questions. And so really trying to walk in with that mindset and not get sucked into negativity and also being comfortable enough to speak up. Yeah. And be that disruptor.

[00:46:34] Trish: Be a disruptor in a positive way. Realize like that. That's, you've got challenge when you say, see things that aren't right.

[00:46:42] Trish: Mm-hmm. . Um, because if we don't challenge it, it grows.

[00:46:45] Diane: And I think for a leadership, from the leader's point of view, make sure that you surround yourself with people. It's lonely. It does get lonely. As you start to promote up. From day one we're taught, you're working in a crew, you're in teams of two.

[00:46:57] Diane: You do all these things together and then you start to promote up and you're like, wait a minute, I'm now on a desert island and I feel pretty lonely and I don't really know what's going on. You know, with all the crews that I was once part of, you know, you're separate from that cultural significant piece.

[00:47:13] Diane: Yeah, in any organization. And so it's finding your people as a leader, whether it's outside of your organization, whether it's a group, whatever it is to bounce ideas off of, to keep, you know, that's another way to keep the culture moving in a way you want is continue to make connection outside of that.

[00:47:32] Trish: Absolutely. Like have your people that you are growing these, growing these concepts with, just like we do. I feel like we can have these great conversations and bounce things off of that's so important to do. And so creating, um, that support for yourself because it is hard when you start promoting up the organization, but then also making time to, to have lunch with crews, meet with crews. I think that is imperative. Being connected to your organization as well.

[00:48:03] Diane: And listening to them, even if it's the last thing you wanna hear about is complaining or listening about the little things. Cuz those little things are big and it's all part of that, you know, feeling heard, feeling seen, feeling valued, and being part of that safe space, which ties directly into culture.

[00:48:20] Trish: Yeah. Just as culture is not easy, uh, to watch, it's not easy to, to, to say, yeah, just go visit the crew.. Like they got some stuff to say, so get ready to buckle down and hear it. Yeah. And not be defensive and, and listen with an open heart . That's part of developing your culture is letting people feel seen, heard, recognized in what they have, because they've got some stuff to say.

[00:48:45] Diane: Well, they don't know how much you care until they know how much you care. Yeah. You know, that's the Yes. I love that. Love that. If they don't know, and that's kind of hard because you may think you are crushing it and like doing all these great things and they're like, yeah, well what about this? And the last thing you wanna hear is, well, no, I don't wanna hear about that.

[00:49:05] Diane: I wanna talk about all the great things I'm doing. But it's that perspective and being, like you said, open, and that's hard to do. But if we expect our leaders, our middle leaders, our company officers to do the same thing, we gotta follow along with that. As we wrap up, let's come up with three things that, uh, leaders or anyone listening can do right now to start impacting positive culture change.

[00:49:32] Diane: And I'll go first - I will say you've really got to start looking inward at yourself and understand what your values, your purpose, your mission, and how you can contribute. What can you do to contribute and are you contributing currently in a positive way or in a negative way? Yeah, and really kind of analyzing, look inward first, you know, that one finger pointing out, four fingers pointing back at you.

[00:49:58] Diane: So that would be my first step is look inward and really. Do a good self-assessment on yourself.

[00:50:05] Trish: I think yes, I completely agree with you. I think another thing that leaders need to do, and, and I've said this over and over again, is just really, um, listen to the stories that are being told in your organization and not just those stories, those ones that are being had around the kitchen table, like we say, the water cooler, whatever, not the ones in meetings, but those other stories, those are real ones that are telling you about your culture and about your organization. So listen up and then don't be afraid.

[00:50:39] Trish: Be a leader. And when you see red flags, address it. Mm-hmm. , shine the light on that. Mm-hmm. And, and those stories are gonna tell you what those red flags, or the good things that are happening in your organization. So pay attention.

[00:50:52] Diane: I agree with that. I think the third thing would be patience. Yeah. You know, patience.

[00:50:57] Diane: Um, one of the benefits of being a leader is the ability to see ahead, see far out. Yeah. You know, see, see the end result. And, you know, that's part of the training. That's part of

[00:51:08] Trish: whatever it is. It's an expectation. Everybody has a bus in that room

[00:51:12] Diane: and that's, and when it comes to culture and you know, everything.

[00:51:17] Diane: That's gonna take patience because you are changing hearts and minds. It's not a quick fix. And I think just having that patience to know that, if you are diligent and if you are consistent, and if you can, create that foundation. I think it's the peak and then it all falls into place pretty quickly and then it becomes maintenance.

[00:51:39] Trish: There's a thing and I think this goes with it, that your culture is like a building, and if you're not maintaining it, it's gonna fall apart. So yes, it takes patience and it takes maintenance. And it's

[00:51:49] Diane: continuous. Yes. And it's, it's hard because it's not always a checklist and we're all checklist people.

[00:51:53] Diane: We arrive and we figure out a problem, we fix the problem and we go back to the station or whatever it is. It's, it's more about being curious and really, you know, The inner work. That's pretty hard, but definitely possible. Thank you so much.

[00:52:08] Trish: Such a fun conversation. Thank you for inviting me

[00:52:11] Diane: as always, and I can't wait to do it again.

[00:52:13] Trish: Me too.

[00:52:13] Diane: Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to listen to this episode. I know how valuable time is and I'm so grateful you have given me part of your time, curious on what to do next. Go ahead and follow wherever you're listening to this podcast so you can get updates each week when new episodes are released, and head on over to for a free audio to help you get started on your self-care journey. Until next time, be brave, be kind, and be authentic.