Many leaders have their personal effectiveness and impact blocked because of a handful of recurring themes; but there are many things that contribute to effective leadership. I talk to Jane Viljoen, a Registered Psychologist and Multiple Award-Winning Executive Coach, about conscious leadership retreat The Exducis Code, tips on how to be an effective leader and the typical mistakes of rookie executives.
Jane, can you tell us a bit about your background to introduce yourself?
Yes, I am Jane Viljoen, often introduced as Jane V to get around the difficult pronunciation of my name! I am a Registered Psychologist specialising in Executive Coaching and Leadership development, although all aspects of human development really interest me. As a Psychologist, I bring a combination of neuroscience and emotional intelligence theory into my work and utilise science-based techniques to help people to improve their thinking and create habits that will enable them to grow as effective, impactful, and motivational leaders.
When did you realise executive coaching is your passion?
Coaching has been my passion for at least 15 years as I evolved into enabling my clients with future focused interventions that connected with their inner most desires for improved outcomes in their lives. Early on in my journey as a Coaching Psychologist I realised how energising it was to bring a unique set of skills that builds others up and empowers them to make the changes they really want. My reputation as an impactful, results driven coach and an extensive professional network meant that I was fortunate enough to be invited to work with a wide range of senior executives over the years. Applying my experience and expertise to enable them to reach their professional and personal goals has effectively steered my coaching practice more towards executive coaching.
What is The Exducis Code?
I’ve worked with thousands of leaders, either in a one to one, team or workshop-based environment and I see first-hand what their challenges are. So many leaders have their personal effectiveness and impact blocked because of a handful of recurring themes… We have addressed these themes as part of our Exducis Code solution! The code is made up of a range of practical applications of Neuroscience based communication, EI development and intertwined with conscious leadership concepts, development, and strategies.
Underpinning the code is:
- The Neuroscience of change, agility and resilience
- The Neuroscience of trust, engagement and human performance
- Gaining a deeper awareness of emotions and existing patterns of thinking that hold us back at a subconscious level
- Assessment of Leadership EQ and the detailed, bespoke feedback everyone needs to elevate their effectiveness
- Building a toolkit of simple, science-based techniques and routines to increase resilience, become more adaptable to change, stay composed under pressure and bounce back from the challenges of leadership
The code ‘builds’ as leaders develop their awareness though interactive mastermind sessions, workshops and skills practice sessions which are delivered over 3 days of immersive learning at our retreats. The name Exducis is a play on the Latin for dux/ducis (leader) and our experience, expertise and excitement to work with emerging and established executive leaders!
How did you come up with the idea?
It’s quite serendipitous really as Phil Kelly and I co-founded this flagship retreat borne from our shared vision about the changes that we believed were needed in the landscape of tired and outdated leadership development offerings. As two corporate professionals specialising in human behaviour and elite human performance, we had been separately invited to consult for an innovative new health and fitness app. After one of the meetings, we got chatting about our separate businesses and how we worked with leaders…we uncovered so much synergy in our approaches and began hypothesising what it would be like to bring our USP’s together. Specifically, an ex -military human performance specialist and a qualified Psychologist with specialisms in neuroscience and emotional intelligence coaching both accoladed with awards for their impactful work!…We conceptualised a ‘dream team’. That was just over a year ago and we moved quickly to create and establish the Exducis Code. It’s been an exciting journey, despite having to navigate the pandemic whilst developing the Code to ultimate leadership.
For whom do you recommend this exclusive retreat?
The Exducis Code content is aimed at Executive Leaders who are at Director Level or sit within an Executive team. Awareness and growth are essential when senior leaders want to take people with them and drive full engagement and motivation with both the corporate strategy and personal contribution. Many of our Exducis Leaders need time out to re-establish clarity regarding their objectives in the business and a new focus on what kind of leader they need to be to maximise their impact and get the results they desire.
What is your unique approach and what sets you apart from others who work in your field?
As a Registered Psychologist and Multiple Award-Winning Executive Coach, I show CEO’s, executives and leadership teams how to finally enhance their fusion by learning how to truly connect and listen. That is not listening in the ‘mainstream’, traditional way but listening to connect, to engage and to really understand.
I help leaders to expertly meet their teams where they are currently and to lead them to the next level by reducing resistance, dissolving defensiveness, and creating a clarity of purpose and interaction that many do not even realise is possible.
Delivering this as part of our Exducis Code enables leaders to utilise their own Emotional Intelligence, using high impact, evidenced-based coaching models and a wide range of techniques from Neuroscience and Positive Psychology. Leveraging science-based diagnostics and psychometric assessments that heighten human awareness…We enable them and their team to get the ultimate competitive edge through the authentic listening and engagement that you would expect from experts in human behaviour.
My personal mission is to change the world one conversation at a time and Exducis is a fantastic opportunity to achieve this.
Can you share some tips on how to be an effective leader?
There are many things that contribute to effective leadership and individuals often have a range of current strengths that help them motivate and engage others. To raise our levels of professional and personal effectiveness however, we must first understand what our unique strengths are and assess how they can be overplayed in times of stress or pace. So, ‘awareness’ would be high on the list of ‘tips’ for increased impact and effectiveness.
Once the building block of ‘awareness’ is in place then effective leaders build on that by committing to demonstrate:
- Assertive confidence
- Humility and empathy
- Authentic curiosity
- Gratitude and appreciation
and these elements are all expressed via skilled communication.
A few of these characteristics come as a surprise addition to some established leaders and yet when we bring evidence from neuroscience and psychological studies, we see that the actions I have outlined here, not only stimulate different behaviours from others, but they actually change their neurochemistry! This is where the ‘good stuff’ lies because once leaders understand how and why they can influence the neurochemistry of themselves and others, then teams elevate in creativity, trust and productivity, enabling leaders to focus on strategic and individual growth.
What do you recommend for rookie executives?
For those who are quite new in their executive role we see a recurring theme of the classic ‘Imposter Syndrome’. This is where senior leaders experience doubt in their own ability, as well as that dreaded feeling that others are not only much more skilled but that they will ‘uncover’ the truth that the new exec should never have been given the role in the first place! Whilst feelings of doubt are very natural, it is important for the individual to reflect on why they were chosen for the role in the first place. They can ask themselves, what they are bringing that is fresh and unique as well as how they can influence their executive colleagues in a positive way.
Exducis is all about identifying unique leadership abilities to build confidence and resilience and so the best recommendation I could offer is to come along to one of our events.
What type of individual will benefit from The Exducis Code retreat?
There are essentially two types of people who gain most from the Code. Those who are struggling to ‘deal with success’ and those who are not fulfilling their potential despite periods of growth and stretch.
Who would have thought it would be a problem to deal with success? It sounds like a paradox when it’s something an executive has aimed for over many years…but when they attain success, it can turn out to be very different from what they expected.
This is a clear and present danger to many executives and leaders as it can lead to burnout, stress and disengagement. This, alongside imposter syndrome, feeling unfulfilled and having misaligned values can cause some issues that are difficult for leaders to articulate. They notice the symptoms before the cause in many instances. Some of the ‘symptoms’ are:
… reacting instead of responding to certain situations
… being irritated at things that would never have bothered you before
… noticing increased resistance from others
… unable to switch off and disconnect from work
… always chasing the next milestone
… feeling exhausted, missing the energy you used to have
… tossing and turning in bed, unable to get a decent rest
… worrying that you may be losing your edge
… struggling to make decisions that you usually find easy
If a leader experiences any of these symptoms, then Exducis is ideal for them, as we take them through an immersive experience of professional and personal growth.
Equally, an individual who has a feeling that they have more to give but are frustrated by a team or culture that is not quite ‘with them’ or that they just can’t find their mojo in their everyday work, that type of individual makes huge gains by attending an Exducis retreat.
The process of becoming an Exducis Leader is very person centred and although we have a structured syllabus, individuals get exactly what they need from the content because it is wide ranging and responsive to their specific goals. Indeed, we have designed it that way.
Due to the current pandemic, can people participate in your retreats online?
Yes. In response to an increased appetite from executive leaders to get some ‘head space’ during the crazy times of 2020, we delivered several online events throughout the year. These shorter ‘mastermind’ events have elicited excellent feedback and as a result we will be continuing to deliver events in this way until we can get our in-person retreats back in the calendar! Nothing can come close to the immersive 3 day retreat but the online events are certainly a great place to start the Exducis journey.
How can our readers contact you and follow-on social media?
LinkedIn tends to be my platform of choice and readers can connect with me by going to my profile.
The Exducis Code has its own page too so it is worth following the page to hear about upcoming events as well as receiving great content about emerging leadership themes.
Finally, can you please share your motto and your favourite quote for CEOs and Directors?
Oh, I have so many gems that I share with my clients but one of my favourites is from someone I look up to and on whose work, I model much of my coaching, that is the great Marshall Goldsmith. His motto ‘what got you here won’t get you there’ is something I remind my clients of regularly.
We really can only get so far on what we already have and know. Once the stream runs out, The Code for extraordinary leaders’ steps in. The Exducis Code.