From Acting to Leading
“It’s about how can we come together to do really good important things in this world ” says Sharon Newport. Sharon has authored content, and provided consultation, expertise and facilitation across four continents supporting and inspiring cultural and strategic transformation. Through the experience of being in sync with each other, I am curious and passionate about what are we getting done together. It can be very simple, but quite broad such as Dignity and Love – how that does or does not show up in relationships, in work, in collaboration, in governance in a lot of different ways “ It starts with dignity and holding the dignity of oneself, and then standing in that to be able to show up in relationship and hold dignity as the key component to any relationship, even adversarial. And being able to honour the dignity of the relationship to help determine how the relationship grows or evolves, including the ones that are adversarial. How we navigate each other while always centering that dignity. And then the impacts of whatever that relationship is, changes what shows up in the world. Ultimately that is an act of love.
Bringing more people with us, we can build those relationships and expand our networks to have conscious decisions around who and what is influencing our thinking, the way we show up in the world, how we conduct our leadership, how we explore systems, expanding the yes and the no as consciously as possible.
“We’re not up here getting it right all day every day. We are also all learners. I do my best with dignity and with love. I do my best with having curiosity. I do my best with bravery, as well as being able to have those conversations with my courage constantly. I do my best to show up cantered in a way that makes people want to attune to the environment we are desiring to create”.
“Love”, “Dignity” and “Curiosity” shapes the way I show up. We all have a place to create that impact. 5 Tips from Sharon…
- Explore where to get curious, right, Curiosity brings energy. . If we’re shut down, there is no room for curiosity.
- Create room for wisdom. Explore what brings meaning, what shapes your heart and your relationships. Start to really cultivate differently
- Learn as you seek the journey of wisdom
- Believe in the value of dignity work. Make sure that you’re living and dying in dignity.
- Our courage helps us to overcome our fears.
“What shapes the way I show up. in turn changes the way people show up around me. And this has an immediate impact. Those are things that we can do right away. It’s holding it and having a capacity or even a vision for it when we’re under pressure, that can be requiring practice. And I hope that people would be interested enough to get curious and explore this to practice it. It is a muscle that can be really hard under certain circumstances. That is where the skill comes in to be able to access it for the long term, and really do the work that does have the change in the world. I started to have the conversations with my team and my staff and my board to be able to cultivate the collective vision to get to this brand new place that now our imagination is creating a new and different possibility. “
In a consulting role…facilitating change and transformation
“I am inspiring something that authentically sparks people I am supporting towards their desired future. And then in the process consulting component is supporting their journey. I am staying that step behind them, holding them from the side or from the back, depending on where we are in the journey, to help them lead the organisation to that new future. Yes, it’s a journey. “
Sharon has authored content, and provided consultation, expertise and facilitation across four continents supporting and inspiring cultural and strategic transformation. She has always been committed and interested in passionate and curious about how to make the best use of herself in order to help other people learn from the being with each other experience.
In her early career, Sharon was a documentary television and film producer, as well as an actress for over a decade. And this included television series for the history channel “Discovery Channel and “Animal Planet”.
00:00:00 Paula: Welcome to “TesseTalks” with your host Tesse Akpeki and your cohost Paula Okonneh. Where we share with you top leadership and management strategies. This is definitely a journey of discovery. We have been learning in this journey that leadership is personal and professional, and we hope you will walk in this adventure. We have a fantastic guest today. Her name is Sharon Newport, and we are going to be talking about lessons from the trenches. She’ll talk about the leadership lessons that she has learned from the different arenas she has been in. I’ll tell you a little bit about Sharon. Sharon Newport, CAE, is an Organizational Consultant. She’s a Facilitator and Executive Coach, and coaches clients in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors across the globe. She’s delivered keynotes and education. She’s authored content, and provided consultation, expertise and facilitation across four continents. That’s 1, 2, 3, 4 continents to support and inspire cultural and strategic transformation. In her early career, she was a documentary television and film producer, as well as an actress for over a decade. And this included television series for the history channel “Discovery Channel and “Animal Planet”. I could say so much more about Sharon. But why don’t we start the show and you hear all about her. And so with that, I say, welcome to “TesseTalks” Sharon.
00:01:55 Sharon: Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.
00:02:00 Tesse: Hi and welcome Sharon. I am so delighted that you said yes to us. And with that delight has come a curiosity. And that curiosity is about your unique professional background. Can you share more please about how that history might have influenced your career today?
00:02:20 Sharon: Absolutely. Yeah. My unique professional background has a linear path to me. Although I do know that when looking at it from the outside, it might look like I was all over the place. But to me what’s always been really important. And I’ve known this about myself since I was young. But I didn’t always know what skills I would use for what thing as I got older, which is that I’ve always been committed and interested in passionate and curious about how to make the best use of myself in order to help other people learn from the being with each other experience. Right? So when I was younger and I was an actor, it was about being with each other, through storytelling in the theater, or being with each other through storytelling and television and film. And I’m really passionate about truth, that’s what led me into documentary work. And ultimately I became a leader, and within that I was an “Association Executive” for 12 years. And in associations, it’s all about being together. It’s about how can we come together to do really good important things in this world. Right? And so through the experience of being in scene with each other, what are we getting done together? And so, that’s always been my through line. But I have grown, and if you had told the 24 year old Sharon what she would be doing decades later, I probably wouldn’t have been surprised, although I would’ve assumed it still had something to do with a camera. And I guess maybe zoom does. So now that we’ve all been in the zoom environment, maybe that’s still in there and I think it’ll still be there one day. But right now I’m very passionate about being able to take that lens and that part of me that I know is my life’s mission. In some ways I think that’s part of it to help organizations do important things within the organization, but certainly as associations to do sometimes with partnership and being able to make impact and change in our world.
00:04:26 Paula: I love that about making impact and change in our world, because the world needs that. And yeah, I know you’re so passionate about so many things, including of course making impact and change in the world. But what are you most passionate about now? This is 2022, you know, can you put your finger on something?
00:04:49 Sharon: I can, it’s going to feel simple and broad. I don’t know if that’s a polarity, but it’s very similar to things in my life. It can be very simple, but quite broad. Dignity and love.
00:05:01 Tesse: Wow. Oh, wow.
00:05:04 Paula: I love that.
00:05:06 Sharon: Yeah. I am really using. First of all, I’m just curious about . And how can we do a better job how that does or does not show up in relationships, in work, in collaboration, in governance in a lot of different waysof getting it in there. Right? It’s maybe feels a little far for some people to talk about love in that context. But it starts with dignity and holding the dignity of oneself, and then standing in that to be able to show up in relationship and hold dignity as the key component to any relationship, even adversarial. And being able to honor the dignity of the relationship to help determine how the relationship grows or evolves, including the ones that are adversarial. Right? How we navigate each other while always centering that dignity. And then therefore the impacts of whatever that relationship is changes what shows up in the world. And ultimately that is an act of love in my opinion. And that’s the framework that I’m really moving in my work around.
00:06:18 Tesse: Looking at what is going on in the world today, we do need love. And I love the introduction or the reintroduction to the word dignity and how that can be reframed in a holistic way of being with each other, and being with ourselves, and being with our world. I think that’s a wonderful combination. And thank you so much for bringing that to our attention again, Sharon. Because we leaders, we have to be reminded of these things. And again, another curiosity I have is, as you talked about being, and what comes to my mind also is the twin of that, which is acting, which is take an action. And what would you like people listening today to take action around?
00:07:05 Sharon: Well, first of all, I really want people to explore where they get curious, right? I do feel like that is sometimes a subtle notion inside of us that we can quickly dismiss. But I do believe it’s that part of us that’s trying to push room for wisdom, right? And the curiosity is that little spark that can get us into action to go towards some things, right? Some learnings, some knowledge that I do believe begets wisdom. I seek the journey of wisdom and I do believe dignity work is part of that. And so I would love people to start with that, and start to notice and slow themselves down. You know right now we’re all working at such a hectic pace or exhausted, just feeling exhausted. And curiosity is sometimes the thing that brings some energy. But hopefully also getting curious about what I just said around dignity and love. And being able to explore what that can mean for the way it shapes you, the way it shapes your heart, the way it can shape those relationships. I do feel that when I call in that word, it changes my neurology. It changes the sympathetic nervous system. It changes the way I show up, which in turn changes the way people show up around me. And those have immediate impact. Those are things that we can do right away. It’s holding it and having a capacity or even a vision for it when we’re under pressure, that can be requiring practice. And I hope that people would be interested enough to get curious and explore this to practice it. It is a muscle that can be really hard under certain circumstances. That is where the skill comes in to be able to access it for the long term, and really do the work that does have the change in the world.
00:08:56 Paula: I’m thinking deeply about those three words that jumped out for me, “Love”, “Dignity” and “Curiosity”, and how that will impact the world, especially the world we live in. And because it brings me back now to not just businesses, not just for-profit and non-profit, not just employers and employees. But also looking at the world, in which now a large percentage of baby boomers are coming to an age where the person that they probably were, the positions they had in the world, are changing because of, you know, aging factors. Whether it’s you know, health-wise or just being unable to be as strong as they used to be, or even losing things cognitively. I think that a lot of people have to recognize that,” Love”, “Dignity” and “Curiosity” as to the stage of life that they are in can really make a difference.
00:09:53 Sharon: Yes. And to your point about the aging generation of the baby boomers. I mean, I would say we in the US. This is not true around the world. But we in the US do not honor the dignity of older people. There’s a window that we believe has value when it comes to age in this culture. And after that window, or before that window, we don’t tend to honor dignity. We don’t often honor the dignity of children either, right? And so to the point of that, I think that it can be a challenge to feel your age in a society where you don’t feel that you will be looked upon with dignity, or held and cared for with love or resources. Resources that your family, or you have to care for your health, right? To be able to make sure that you’re living and dying in dignity. I could get very moved around thinking that. And God willing, we’ll all get to a point where we’re aging and we’re experiencing the way the world treats us differently. And so part of what I’m hoping for, we’re in such an age of change right now. We have the capacity to do really big, important things, and we are rightfully floundering at some of it because we’re tired. And some of it is new enough that it’s going to wander until it really settles. But I also, and so to your point about age. I’m really inspired by our younger generations and their fearlessness. I mean, I feel like as the older, older people always say that about younger people, they’re fearless, they’ll try anything. They’ll do these big things. But I feel honored to be able to be at an age. I’ve lived long enough, like that’s a blessing, that’s not given to everyone. To be able to look back and see younger generations doing really important things. And how can we together in all of our dignity and the wisdom that our elders give us, gave us, continue to offer us. I’ll take it a step further. There’s some ancestors out there too. That we can start to really cultivate differently while we’re here.
00:12:08 Paula: Absolutely. And one thing you did say, bringing in the younger generation. Yes, they are so passionate and they’re so fearlessly vocal about inclusion, equality. Those are two things, diversity. Those are three things I hear from them all the time. And you know, those are things that we too, the older, more mature generation can learn from them. Because they see a world in which there’s so much inequality. There’s so much lack of emphasis on diversity. And there’s so much lack of inclusion, that they’re making us more aware of it, you know? And so as you say, we pull from the ancestors, we pull from the elders, but we can learn a lot from them.
00:12:56 Sharon: That’s right. That’s right. And at the same time, you know, what’s interesting is that I feel like the systems that we grew up in, didn’t look at diversity, equity and inclusion. Didn’t look at creating accessibility. The disability rights movement has been struggle. Because, you know, the internet flattened the world for them and they’ve been experiencing it their whole lives in a way that was not true for us. They’re experiencing selective and otherwise diversity experiences, right? Because they’re able to look at anything around the planet and be able to selectively create some diversity in their thinking, and then their network and then the things that influence the way they show up in the world. They don’t have tolerance for the systems that are in place in a way that can make people nervous. But that’s the job, right? Like show up and say all the things. Our job is to have the capacity to hear it, to be inclusive about listening to it. To let our curiosity have room in there. If we’re shut down, there is no room for curiosity. And when you’re losing the ability to have curiosity in any given moment, first of all, you’re just losing out and just lose it out. It’s you first that misses that. But certainly we all have a place to create that impact. And if we can allow what they’re saying to influence us or even say, I don’t know what to do with that, but I want to think about that. I want to sit with that for a few days. I mean, that was one of the things I had to learn as I got older, is to not feel like I have to say something right away. Let me go think about that, right? Let me go think about that. You’ve given me a lot to think about, and I really want to continue the conversation. And I don’t know my own thoughts on this one yet and allow that to be an ongoing dialogue, systemically and otherwise.
00:14:44 Tesse: I so love what you’re saying. I’m thinking when you mentioned disability, which doesn’t really get an airing as much as it should get. And Hollywood actually did something really good this year which was having leading man in Toronto to Bajorek who was born with a disability, lives with a disability and is proud, and he is the leading man. Because usually you have to be a certain height, and look, et cetera, in order to play that role. And so it excludes a lot. Paula too draws in this thing, which you’ve alluded to about different ages and intergenerational work. And I’ve seen a lot of examples. And even in my own practice, I’m experiencing it of reverse mentoring and reverse coaching. And it’s really a humbling experience, but also it’s a very courageous and brave thing to see things through the lenses of different generations, the perspective of different generations. But what I found for me to share is, I’ve actually seen myself growing by seeing my life and my experiences as mirrored by people who are millennials and, you know, generations Z, you know. It’s been a really enriching experience. I welcome your thoughts and reverse mentoring and coaching and intergenerational stuff.
00:16:11 Sharon: Oh, I love that. Yeah, I’ve had that exact same experience. As odd as this may sound, I have siblings are so much younger than me, I could be their parent. And so I have very close to me people who are in college and, you know, 19 years old, 23 years old, and really showing me firsthand what it looks like to be of those generations. And just by witnessing them, it sometimes pushes my thinking. And by experiencing their thoughts on things or how they’re looking at systems or reminding myself of what I was like at those ages saying no to a lot of things. Not to this no to that, right? And I do feel like as you get older, what’s so interesting is you can find yourself relaxing into stuff and maybe not being so passionate about this or that the way you were at 23. But one of the wise aspects of that, is that when you’re younger delineating and going through, you know, healthy adults processes, has you in what’s called like a no current, right? It’s much easier to say, no. You’re clear on how to see the world, if you’re able to say no to this and no to tha., it is a more sophisticated adult development skill to know where the yes is. And so that’s part of the benefit is that sometimes when you get into the, yes, you’ll forget your no’s, right? You might lose a little, like of that passion that you could really be influenced by. In addition to the new ways of thinking and breaking barriers that we don’t even see our barriers anymore. You know, time can do that out of perspective. And, so I really value that in not only the official ways, but the unofficial ways that we can build those relationships and expand our networks to have conscious decisions around who and what is influencing our thinking, the way we show up in the world, how we conduct our leadership, how we explore systems, expanding the yes and the no as consciously as possible. Particularly when you’re older and in theory, you have more power in theory, not always true, but right. And that you can bring some things along with you because of that posture, that I think is an obligation that you carry as you get older and bringing more people up with you. So I love that. I’ll also say to your point about courage and bravery. I gave a talk in London last fall around having, with association leaders. Around having conversations with our courage right. And I love that, I bring it up cause,one I love the phrase and it’s inspiring me and it makes me curious every time I say it. But in organizations, whether you’re the board chair, or you’re the volunteer leader, or you’re the staff leader. Having conversations with our courage, I hope inspires that kind of curiosity and inspires that way of thinking that allows us to burst out some walls, that has us going to places that are beyond the current imagination. That maybe we even know the thing we want to do, but we need the bravery to get there. There’s something about bravery that’s deemed to be inherent as like a trait. But there’s something about courage that always acknowledges that it’s got fear present as well. And needing to be able to have something that gets through the fear in order to have the gumption to do it anyway. And that’s where courage comes in. Sometimes that is what it takes to have conversations with younger people or people more wise than you, or more experienced than you. But also to be able to show up and say,” I’ve gotten all the influences I need it’s time for me to show up in my leadership” and start to influence where this organization can go. And start to have the conversations with my team and my staff and my board to be able to cultivate the collective vision to get to this brand new place that now our imagination is creating as a possibility.
00:20:13 Paula: Absolutely brilliant. As we come to the close, there’s something I just want to pull together. And that is, now when we bring together the courage and the bravery. I love how you define them. When we bring together the curiosity and the love and dignity. Can you talk about your successes at all of that? I guess it’s a difficult question, but they’re also interrelated. And now, as you said, the internet has kind of flattened the globe for the younger generation. But at the same time, sounds like you may feel, and quite a lot of us feel like we are like sandwich in between an older generation and this younger generation. How do you pull all of those things together? What has been your success on that?
00:20:57 Sharon: It’s a good question. I ask myself that a lot. And my answer generally speaking is that it’s just a journey, right? One of the things I always say with my clients to also normalize the premise that we’re not up here getting it right all day every day, is that we are all leaners, but we are also all learners. And so I do my best with dignity. I do my best with love. I do my best with having curiosity. I do my best with bravery, as well as being able to have those conversations with my courage constantly, constantly. I do my best to show up centered in a way that makes people want to attune to where I am, so that we’re all calm and we’re all having important dialogue. And that I’m doing my best to model the inspiration that I want to put into the room. And then hopefully with everyone else getting their own version of that, we’re dancing in the space, right. But that’s a journey. I don’t know that I got it right, I just know that I like these ingredients. And so I’m constantly trying to make a stew based on the situation that I’m in. Based on what my clients need, what organizations need. Based on conversations that I’m in. And I get a lot of energy out of leaving a dynamic better than I found it. And that’s not based on my definition usually, it’s based on my client’s definition and what I’m attempting to bring to help them get to where they’re trying to go. Or be inspired enough to move off the dime and towards action. Because a lot of what’s going on right now for a lot of leaders is feeling the stagnation around. I don’t know what else to do to be able to get to this goal. I’m a little stuck. I need some support, right. And inspiring something that authentically sparks them towards that future. And then in the process consulting component really supporting their journey and staying that step behind them, right. Holding from the side or from the back, depending on where we are in the journey, to have them lead the organization to that new future. So, yeah, it’s a journey.
00:23:00 Paula: I love that you say it’s a journey. And so with that, where can we, where can our listeners, where can both curious young people, not so young people, seasoned people find you online, offline.
00:23:14 Sharon: Oh, thank you. My website is “Sharonnewport.com”. And I’m also on LinkedIn with “Sharon Newport”. And I’m on Twitter as “Sharon Newport”, SHARON NEWPORT. I would love to engage with whomever would love to engage me.
00:23:33 Paula: We are sure that our audience would love to engage with you. Because we, Tesse and I have been leaning in on this conversation.
00:23:41 Sharon: Well, thank you. I’ve enjoyed the resonance we’ve been experiencing with one another.
00:23:48 Tesse: It’s a bit of rhythm and a dance, hasn’t it Paula? And Sharon, thank you for bringing the poetic and the dramatic, and yet the grounded into this space. Thank you so much.
00:23:59 Sharon: Oh, thank you for having me. This has been beautiful. I appreciate being here.
00:24:05 Paula: For our amazing audience, thank you so much for tuning in. We ask that you head over to Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or wherever else you listen to podcasts, and please don’t just click subscribe. We ask that you follow us. And if you like what you just heard from the amazing Sharon Newport. We ask that you give us a raving review. And if you have questions or topics that you would like us to bring onto the show, please reach out to us on our website, which is “Tesseapeki.com/tessetalks”. And let’s talk. Thanks again Sharon, for being an amazing guest.
00:24:51 Sharon: Thank you for having me.