Q&A with Julie Holunga, Emergenetics Master Associate

Q: What inspired you to begin using Emergenetics in your work?
A: In using other tools with clients, I found that a lot of them touched the surface. I wasn’t able to reinforce the importance of diversity of thought. Clients focused so much on the similarities between their results with their teammates and departments. It was hard for them to recognize the benefits of other types of thought.

A colleague of mine had heard about Emergenetics. When I used it, I saw how easy it was to help people understand themselves and not pigeonhole themselves and others.

The Emergenetics Profile was the first assessment that clearly explained why I was uncomfortable networking. I had always struggled with it. While I enjoy learning about people and talking with them, I struggled to break into conversations at networking events. That was the piece that was uncomfortable. Emergenetics showed me that with my first-third Assertiveness, I prefer a gentle pace, and it was hard for me to walk into a group of people in a hotel ballroom and interrupt their conversation. My Emergenetics Profile results clicked for me.

I love that once someone understands the Emergenetics Profile, anyone can look at it and understand the person behind it. People can see the importance of other types of thought and that makes it easier to use the results to build perspective.

Q: How do you use Emergenetics in your work as an executive leadership coach?
A: I use it with all of my executive coaching clients as well as within companies. I know the power Emergenetics has. It helps people put language around what they need to be successful and have confidence in what they can contribute by working through their strengths.

Rather than saying things like “I’m a team player,” the Emergenetics Attributes help people be specific about the strengths and the unique knowledge and behaviors they bring to the table. They are then better equipped to articulate these strengths. For example, if they are a process-oriented thinker and you provide them with information to review before a meeting, they can think through it and will contribute more value.

My clients say they wish they had an Emergenetics Profile for everyone they interact with. It helps them to explain why they may be stuck in their work and develop a plan to move forward. It helps identify where they are getting too comfortable and how they can flex. It helps them understand why some people naturally work well together and why some may feel like outliers. Often, people then realize that their colleague thinks or behaves differently.

Q: What are some success stories you can share about how Emergenetics has helped your clients build perspective and advocate for themselves?
A: One of my clients was about to become the president of a professional association, and we were going over her Emergenetics Profile. She finally understood why she was stressed and anxious in the committee meetings. She’s a Concrete thinker (with Structural and Social preferences). There were a lot of Abstract thinkers (with Analytical and Conceptual preferences) on the committees who would talk about brilliant ideas, but nothing ever seemed to move forward. She wanted a plan, and she realized when she has a plan, her anxiety decreased.

With Emergenetics, she’s able to articulate her needs to her colleagues. When her committees go on a tangent or deviate from the agenda, she feels more confident speaking up and redirecting the conversation to the purpose of the meeting. Now that she understands why she feels this way, she has the language to effect change. And she knows this is a value she brings to her Board. They count on her to keep them on track!

Another story comes from an attorney, who is an Analytical, Structural and Social thinker, third-third Expressive, second-third Assertive and first-third Flexible. She was doing a cross-examination with a senior partner at her firm. The plan was for her partner to question first and then it would be her turn.

As they were getting started, the senior partner turned to her and said, “Why don’t you go ahead and start?” Needless to say, she was thrown. She likes to be prepared. She told me that two years prior, she likely would have thought her colleague was trying to throw her under the bus. But, using her Profile, she was able to shift her thinking to realize that her partner was trying to give her an opportunity, and her reaction was coming from the fact that she doesn’t love last minute changes and wasn’t prepared for it.

She got up and did the cross-examination. She did great, and later, she gave the feedback to her partner that she prefers advanced warning when changes are coming. And, he could hear that need in a positive way because of the language she learned from Emergenetics and how she articulated it. He recognized that she wasn’t creating conflict. She was just explaining what she needed to be successful.

Q: What are some stories you can share about how Emergenetics has helped your clients use diversity of thought?
A: A marketing company I work with was experiencing significant growth, so they brought me in to facilitate a Meeting of the Minds workshop for their whole team.
From the team perspective, they realized they were overwhelmingly Divergent thinkers (with preferences for Social and Conceptual thought), and only two individuals had a preference for Structural thinking. One of the two employees who had a preference for Structural thought was less experienced than everyone else. So while she felt like things were falling through the cracks, she wasn’t offering her perspective and insight because she thought it may be due to her lack of experience.

Once she and the team realized this missing piece, she began to take it upon herself in meetings to be the executor and bring value in this area which was missing. The team even joked that they would just talk about ideas forever if she weren’t there to guide them to get things done! She now immediately volunteers to do the follow-up tasks to keep them moving forward.

Emergenetics also changed the way they paired clients with relationship managers. Previously, they looked at who was available. With Emergenetics, the marketing company started to see that when they could put together a WEteam of their relationship managers, they were able to meet the clients’ needs faster and more effectively. By utilizing cognitive diversity, they got better results. And they acknowledged that Emergenetics helped them meet their financial goals four months earlier.

Another example comes from a board meeting where I hosted a virtual Meeting of the Minds. The executive director was a Divergent thinker (with Social and Conceptual preferences) and the president was a Concrete thinker (with Structural and Social preferences). It was amazing to see my clients visibly relax when they saw their preferences.

They were able to realize what strengths they bring to the table and stop feeling pressured to be the one coming up with the new idea or building the plan because they could lean on each other. They also came to realize that they would need to call on a colleague with an Analytical preference to help them work more effectively.

We also talked about the board’s Group Profile, which revealed Social was their most preferred Thinking Attribute and 61% of the team members were in the third-third of Expressiveness. We talked about how the group’s natural inclination would be to get the committees together, talk through everything and collaborate on projects.

The Meeting of the Minds session revealed how they need to operate outside of this preference from time to time. When they saw the diversity of thought and behavior, they realized the importance of giving team members space to brainstorm and analyze on their own before coming back to the group.

Q: How has Emergenetics helped you in your own work?
A: The biggest thing Emergenetics has helped me with is networking. As I mentioned, I don’t love it, but I do enjoy learning about other people. What I realized is how to work through my strengths. While my first-third Assertiveness means I’m not comfortable breaking up someone’s conversation, I’ve joined committees for the groups I work with. Having that “Committee Member” note on my name tag makes it easier for me to have a reason to break into conversation and get to know people.

The other thing I’ve realized is that although Social is my most preferred, I often have to rely on my Structural and Analytical Attributes to create a plan when I get overwhelmed. I often start out by leaning into my Social to reach out to others, talk through what I’m experiencing with someone and get their opinion. Then, I leave the conversation, pause and prioritize by leaning into my Structural preference. It’s helped me to work a lot more effectively.

Q: Congratulations on becoming an Emergenetics Master Associate last year! What do you feel stands out about the Emergenetics Certification programs for consultants, coaches and Learning & Development professionals?
A: The training for Associates is much better than many tools I’ve used. Emergenetics doesn’t just say it’s a strengths-based tool. Associates are trained to walk the talk. The Emergenetics team is committed to making sure we are trained appropriately. They are sticklers for the language we use and are very focused on how we talk about the Profile so that all Attributes are presented in a positive way.

The hours and effort I’ve dedicated to becoming a Master Trainer have been the hardest, yet most satisfying thing I’ve done in my profession. It is the true definition of mastering a topic, and it has instilled so much confidence in me. I love training others and supporting people as they develop their own skill set. I have witnessed firsthand the devotion the Emergenetics team provides to its Associates. They invest in and continually support their Associates. They truly live by their value of Family.

Interested in learning more about you can use Emergenetics to improve communication and productivity in your organization? Click here to learn more about Emergenetics Associate Certification.

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