This is the first post in a series where we’ll be getting to know members of our outstanding Fascinate Certified Advisor™ team. Our Advisors are expertly trained to coach individuals and groups on how to use the Fascinate System to improve communication and build better relationships, as well as add unique value by embracing our core message: Different is better than better.
JeNae Johnson is a human capital consultant and workplace equity strategist. Her mission? To “rescue geniuses.” Starting with the premise that everyone has genius within them, JeNae equips leaders and teams with the tools, guidance, strategy and courage to accomplish their business objectives.
Her company CTM Unlimited developed Bold x Brave Conversations™, an engagement and feedback series that helps leaders facilitate action-based sessions on racial equity. JeNae and her team also partner with executives and employee resource leaders to gauge the effectiveness of current diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and identify specific focus areas to build more equitable workplaces.
JeNae is now the Director of the Fascinate in 3D Program. Appointed by Fascinate to lead our FCAs and customers in their journeys to foster a more equitable world, JeNae created Fascinate in 3D to elevate Difference, Diversity and Disruption in the workplace. JeNae will be leading this initiative to help leaders start real conversations about difference. This approach uses the Fascinate System to drive real, sustainable change and workplace equity. It's about disrupting the workplace status quo by elevating new leaders, amplifying new voices, and attracting new talent and customers.
We wanted to learn a little more about what brought JeNae to Fascinate and her process for developing Fascinate in 3D.
What inspired you to become an FCA?
I took the Fascinate test in 2017 and fell in love with the results. I had done DISC, Strengthsfinder, MBTI, etc., and while they all had interesting aspects, Fascinate really stood out to me. It was vibrant, encouraging, innovative. I think the test and system itself resonates with my Maverick Leader Archetype. When I saw an email about becoming an FCA, I decided to go for it. That year I had a company sponsor some personal development for me, up to a certain dollar amount, so I decided to use that personal development budget to become an FCA. I'm so glad I did.
In what ways do you use the Fascinate tools to help your clients?
I've used the Fascinate tools in 1:1 coaching with high performing / high potential women leaders. The Fascinate System serves as a mirror for them to really see themselves and embrace how amazing they are, to build confidence for their next promotion / professional endeavor. In this coaching scenario, I'm just the girl who holds up the mirror so they can see themselves.
While I've also used Fascinate to conduct group coaching and training sessions, I'm now keenly focused on piloting Fascinate in 3D: Difference, Diversity, and Disruption and using the Fascinate system to help leaders and teams tackle the urgent and pervasive problems in the workplace related to inclusion, diversity and equity.
Sally always says “Different is better than better.” What does ‘different is better’ mean to you?
We are constantly bombarded by messages saying we need to be better at something--better professionals, better parents, better citizens, better business owners, etc. You don't have to look far to find something or someone who will tell you that you're not good enough. I've been able to re-frame this notion by focusing on being different--and not being better. That doesn't mean we should neglect our spiritual, physical and mental self work but I think it just changes the focus. Almost like, let me think of ways I can get better at being different.
What value does ‘difference’ bring in the workplace? In business?
There are countless studies on how diverse teams perform better than teams that aren't diverse. However, focusing on difference takes teams beyond just passing the diversity "eye test." It's about embracing differences related to race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability---and ensuring that every member of the team feels that their contribution is valued. Difference in the workplace also gives dimension to workplace solutions. If you have a group of people who are all alike, chances are their solutions will be one dimensional. Which is fine if your organization is content with mediocre solutions. However, if you really want to solve the big problems and create sustainable solutions, you need "difference" to help you get there.
In what ways does Fascinate help engage groups/teams to discuss difference?
The basic How to Fascinate workshop is sort of the "on ramp" to discussing differences. It's safe. It's about archetypes and colors, and relatively easy to discuss. However, the next step is for teams to engage in How to Fascinate in 3D, which takes what they learned about themselves, their leaders, and their team to engage in substantial dialogue about harder topics, like systemic racism in the workplace and what to do about it.
We love the phrase “Bold x Brave.” Can you explain a little about where it came from and how it encapsulates the work you are doing?
Bold x Brave started out as a virtual conversation series that I created a few weeks after George Floyd was killed. It's about being bold enough to speak and brave enough to listen. I needed a safe space to have conversations with other professionals about systemic racism in the workplace, and at the time I couldn't find that safe space so I created it.
Bold x Brave has since evolved into a set of tools for companies to help them get started with their racial equity journey. It includes various forms of organizational assessments (including the Fascinate test), leadership coaching, guidelines for middle management, and strategic plans for the organization's path forward.
You make a distinction between “allies” and “accomplices.” Can you articulate the basic difference between the two? How does one move from being an ally to becoming an accomplice?
An ally is someone who is supportive, but they support from a distance. An accomplice is someone who is in the trenches with you and has taken on some risk as a result of their affiliation with you. For example, I had to send a very direct and heavy email to the president of a professional organization after George Floyd was killed. I checked with one of my white colleagues about it before sending the email, just to make sure I hadn't missed anything. She insisted that I copy her on the email I sent to the president and if I didn't get an immediate response, then she would be pulling her membership altogether. This was a prime example of actually being an accomplice versus an ally.
You have developed different approaches for coaching individuals, teams and leadership on equity and inclusion. Can you speak a little about why you approach these groups differently? At which level can you make the greatest impact, and why?
Data shows that most equity and inclusion programs get buried in HR and generally fail to achieve results comparable to the time and resource investment. When working with various companies, we really push for securing sponsorship from a P&L business leader--not a cost center business leader (HR, Finance, Legal, etc). Leaders who control budgets and make money for the company typically have more influence in the organization. Also, it eliminates the misconception among employees that equity and inclusion is "just another HR program."
For all teams, individuals and organizations , we use a data-driven approach based on behavior change methodology. It's important to unearth the truth about the current state of the organization (even if it's the ugly truth), create baseline data and KPIs, and then track progress throughout the journey. This approach isn't just about hiring and retention numbers, but also about employee sentiment, challenges and perspectives.
Your tagline is that you “rescue geniuses.” Can you go into a little detail about what you mean by that? What makes a “genius”? And what are the biggest challenges they face that might require “rescuing”?
I fundamentally believe that every person has a form of genius. Specifically, corporate leaders have some form of genius but need help addressing their blind spots and the areas where they need support. In 2020, leaders are challenged by constant change and business disruption. Rescuing them means providing guidance, support and relief from some of their heaviest problems.