100: Leaders With Heart Are Grateful For The Journey

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Heather celebrates the 100th episode of the podcast by sharing testimonials from people who have listened mostly since the beginning of the show. She also gives a short nugget and an impactful message to those listening. Please listen in as we honor those who support the podcast as well as the Leaders with Heart who have been on the show.

Cheers to 100 more! Enjoy!

Leaders With Heart

Employee experience is powered by emotions. Managers and leaders get to choose which emotions they express to the people they lead. Leaders drive much of the positive or negative emotions through their actions, inactions, words, and what they fail to say. 

When managers choose their words and actions carefully, they exhibit great emotional intelligence. These managers are often thought of as leaders who care, or as I like to call them, Leaders With Heart

These special brand of leaders drive engagement and loyalty simply by being themselves. Are these leaders perfect? Absolutely not. It is in their awareness and  sharing of their imperfections that we realize their brilliance.

I get so much out of every episode because Heather only brings in people who truly lead with heart. – Tyler Adams, PR & Communications Specialist at TinyPulse #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

100th Episode

In this podcast, I ask you to see yourself in the stories my guests tell about times when they were not the best versions of themselves. I want you to learn how they use their hearts to guide them to a place of heightened leadership prowess and deeper connection with their team.

Today is the 100th episode. I’m super excited for this day! What a journey it has been. I have to say I am super humbled to have spoken to amazing people and I am super excited about next year. I am very grateful that all of you have chosen to listen in on me and my unpolished, funny way of interviewing people. 

This episode is more of a tribute to you, listeners. I want you to hear some of the voices of people that are in the audience, those who are listening in with you.

I just couldn’t believe the impact that this show has had on people. So, I want to thank all of the listeners for sticking with me throughout. It has been definitely a great honor and I am super excited with what we can come up together in the coming months.

Also, there will soon be a book, the first of many in the series, based upon the podcast. It will contain interviews that I had and some of the work that I do in the human resource space. It won’t come out until 2021 but I think I will be proud of that work because you have been a part of it.

It is really inspiring to know that there are so many leaders out there that are willing to do what they can for the people that they work with. Here’s to a hundred more! - Jackie Benjamin #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The Power of Choice

Whether you are leading someone now, or you want to lead other people, or you’re leading yourself, you get to choose what that looks like

You get to choose your mindset and behavior. You do have impact and you also get to choose what impact to have, whether it is positive or negative. It is critical for a leader with heart to be thinking about the journey, and not focusing so much on the destination.

Even leaders who do most things right also do things which are not so great. But, it is in us and how we highlight those stories and their backgrounds that makes our learning so rich. 

Be that leader who is constantly focusing on the journey—on getting better, on improving, bringing people along, and lifting people up.

I have always been impressed with Heather’s authenticity. When she says leadership with heart, she means it. - Rich Gassen, Ep 32 Guest #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet Everything about leadership with heart, you have brought to life. Here we are, two years later with a hundred conversations with leaders with heart. - Neil Hughes #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet I have really enjoyed listening to an eclectic, diverse, and thought-provoking mix of guests. I’m just so proud to know you and follow you on your journey. - Gary Turner #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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The #1 Ingredient Needed for Constructive Employee Feedback

Giving employee feedback can be difficult for managers, especially those who dislike conflict. Nonetheless, employees need both positive and constructive feedback to grow personally and professionally.

The issue is that most managers don’t know to provide developmental employee feedback, or even realize the most important ingredient before delivering constructive criticism. Without this ingredient, these conversations can fall flat and leave employees feeling unappreciated and just like a number.

What is the most important ingredient to delivering effective constructive employee feedback?

The #1 ingredient to rocking any constructive employee feedback conversation is, (drum roll, please!): Sincere relationship-building.

If a manager has not taken the time to build relationships with those they lead first, they will fail at delivering employee feedback. What do I mean when I refer to “sincere relationship-building” with employees?

  • Take time to understand what your people are going through inside and outside of work, by sitting with them one-on-one
  • Be there to uplift them when they miss a goal and when they accomplish something they set their sights on
  • Be on the look out for ways to grow and leverage their strengths
  • Help them to see that their perceived obstacles are just opportunities to be more and better than yesterday
  • Be their biggest advocate

When managers focus on sincere relationship building with their employees, they set themselves up for success when it is time to deliver constructive criticism on a project, process or interaction. Managers are human. Employees are longing for their managers’ receptivity to connecting in the ways I described above.

When a manager resolves to show up in these ways, any piece of constructive feedback feels just like one more way that they care for those they lead. It doesn’t feel like a negative, but like they are moving one step closer to embracing their team members for all they bring to the table and for all they will become.

99: Leaders With Heart Have A Strong Moral Compass

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In this episode, Heather speaks with DeeDee Williams, Director of Human Resources at Davis, Graham and Stubbs LLP, about her leadership journey, her focus on compassion, and her strong moral compass which she fights to maintain. She also shares a powerful story of when she was not the best leader she could be and what she did to come out of it.

Key takeaways:

  • Be a compassionate leader.
  • Don’t allow your circumstances to define who you are and how you show up.
  • Be available when employees need you. Put the phone down and give them your attention.
  • Find a workplace that allows you to be the leader you want to be.
  • Show your people you appreciate them and they are important.
  • If a person feels valued, then they will do their best work.

This is a nice episode! Listen and learn!

DeeDee William’s Full BIO

DeeDee Williams has over 12 years of experience in human resources and is currently the Director of Human Resources for Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP (Denver), one of the leading full-service business law firms in the Rocky Mountain West. At DGS, Ms. Williams has helped foster a welcoming culture that, while success-driven, places particular emphasis on the well-being of its employees. This holistic approach to leadership and to nurturing leadership skills in others has enabled the firm to attract and retain talent, especially in a competitive market. 

Ms. Williams holds a B.S. from the University of Houston and is a native of Texas. 

Better Questions

I don’t really think of my career as a “leadership journey.” 

Currently, I am trying to provide the best HR department to the firm I have worked for 12 years. My current mindset revolves around the particular needs of my firm and the employees from an HR department, together.

I would always ask: What does my firm and my employees need from me? How can I do the best for them? In all of my past roles, as it stands now, I have more experience and understanding of what they’re looking for, a better sense of how to ask better questions, and better ways to really try and help my people.

In HR, you’re helping on both sides: you're helping the business be a better business, and you’re also helping the employees be the best version of themselves. - DeeDee Williams #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Wonderful Connections

Every day is not my best day, and I acknowledge that. I am definitely not perfect and I know that. Well, no one is, as we’re all just trying to do our best every day. That’s ultimately the goal.

But let’s just focus on one thing we are going to do well. Sometimes, you just have to approach the day that way. If you are tired, and you’re not probably going to do well, just focus on one thing and give it a 110%.

I work with an amazing group of people who acknowledges that everyone is not perfect. We have a wonderful connection and it doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to know everything about each other. 

At the end of the day, I cannot just assume that I am a great leader because of me. The people I work with contribute to the success in my leadership. They play a huge part in it and I try to let them know that all the time.

Eye contact is incredibly important in conversations. - DeeDee Williams #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Happy Compromise

I am driven by knowledge. I like to learn and understand things. That would certainly drive me as a person. When somebody comes to me with a problem, I want to understand their problem. Then, I want to understand the right solution. 

I think a lot of people are very black and white. I have watched how people get affected by operating in right and wrong, or in black and white. So, over time, I have learned how to operate in a total state of gray. 

Then, I realized that everything is about perspective. You just have to understand the perspective from all sides.

Before, if I wanted a particular thing, but it is something that I couldn’t have, my mother would offer me another thing and say, “Is this a happy compromise?” 

Now, I find myself asking people in my workplace, “If we do this, is this a happy compromise?”

You can get a good pulse of a situation through a conversation. - DeeDee Williams #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Everybody has to give up a little bit of something. But is it something we can live with? - DeeDee Williams #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

At times, a person needs another person to blame for their emotions. - DeeDee Williams #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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98: Leaders With Heart Create Psychological Safety For All

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Cheryl Fullerton, EVP of People and Communications at Corus Entertainment, Toronto’s largest media company. She shares about her leadership style, her super interesting focus on psychological safety for all and her unabashed belief in innovation.

Key takeaways:

  • See your role as a company and people builder.
  • Do the hard work to find out who you are and what you stand for.
  • Try to know the problem before you set out to fix it.
  • People need trust and confidence that they are going somewhere.
  • Embrace the idea of creating clear objectives for your people.
  • Challenge assumptions in a safe environment.
  • Choose what you want for your life.

This is an amazing episode. Don’t miss this one!

Cheryl Fullerton’s Full BIO

Cheryl Fullerton is Executive Vice President, People and Communications at Corus Entertainment, where she is responsible for the creation of integrated and high-impact HR solutions to support the exceptional creativity and performance of the company’s over 3,500 people. Cheryl also oversees the Communications function, which includes internal and external communications strategies and execution, as well as Corus’ corporate social responsibility approach through the Corus Cares program. 

Cheryl joined Corus in the fall of 2015, after over 25 years honing her expertise as a business-focused people expert, in a series of great Canadian companies; Maple Leaf Foods, Canada Bread, Morneau Shepell and Sobeys.

Cheryl has been granted a Certified Human Resources Executive (CHRE) designation, and is a member of the HR Professional magazine Editorial Advisory Board and the CHRO Advisory Council of the HR Professional Association. She has a Bachelor of Science summa cum laude and an HRCCC designation from McMaster University.

Company Builder

I am a company builder. My goal is to build strong companies and strong people. I’m trying to make sure that this company is not only seen from the inside out as strong and but also seen with character and impact on society which we can all be proud of. We’re building strong people to have full opportunities to show their value, develop their potential and support each other. Having these things allows me to lead with impact and with meaning.

Being responsible for building and demonstrating the character and strength of your company is also very powerful. It means that your people are proud to work with you and you’ve got the reputation with partners outside.

Know the problem you’re trying to solve before you do it. - @cherylannmc #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Happiness At Work

You do the good work to figure out who you are, what you stand for and why it is important. You have to do that in order to communicate and share them with people. That is the first foundational building block to a high performance culture.

I like to think out loud. I like to talk through, share, debate, admit the fakes and change our minds. I think it is a way of making sure that we’re all aligned. It is also a way of trusting my own assumptions and building strength in other people. That’s a big part of my leadership style. 

I love what I do. I firmly believe in the possibility of being in a job that you love, so you should embrace that and have fun.

I love to create. I want my team to have the idea that we’re building and using our talents. We think that this is fun and enjoyable. I don’t think happiness at work gets in the way of great results. Rather, I think that it is the enabler of great results.

When you know that something is important, it is important now. It is not important when you can reach perfection. It is more important to get started. It challenges us to try and simplify. We try to get into the heart of what we’re really trying to do, how we do that, and how we can get started. 

Always know why you are doing what you are doing. Don’t just do anything for the sake of doing it. Know the problem that you’re trying to solve before you do it. Having those kinds of conversations out loud just builds strength and much better work.

Always test your assumptions. - @cherylannmc #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Diverse Organizations

I am accomplishment-oriented, so the idea of having to share my work was hard for me early in my career. But I realized that you do much better work when you do that. 

There has to be the right kind of outcome so that when you do it, it is supported and celebrated. Otherwise, you’re just saying things that are actually meaningless.  

Everybody is so different. You cannot force people to show up exactly the same because that is not going to work. Each person is their own mix of all kinds of different identities, hats, and feelings. 

We’re all complicated beautiful people, so a culture that can value each person for their uniqueness is what is going to build diverse organizations. From there, they can develop their own potential, impact, and happiness. 

I don’t think happiness at work gets in the way of great results. Rather, I think that it is the enabler of great results. - @cherylannmc #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

You do the good work to figure out who you are, what you stand for and why it is important. - @cherylannmc #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

When you know that something is important, it is important now. - @cherylannmc #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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New Manager? Focus on These 5 Things

New managers are facing challenging working environments filled with rapid change and former management legacies that created employee burnout and apathy. Below are 5 things new managers should focus on when transitioning into a management role from from a non-management role:

Shift your mindset.

The most important thing to remember as a new manager transitioning from a non-management role is that you must shift your mindset. You are no longer just responsible for yourself, but for your team as well. Your words and action have a greater impact. Everyone is watching how you respond to your environment. Make sure to take care of your new team members. Don’t just look at them as means to the end of your professional success.

As a new manager, resilience will be your armor. With a rapidly changing workplace, it will be up to you to get your team through it all. That can’t happen is you are easily set back my obstacles and challenges. Shift your mindset to do things that help you rebound more quickly. It will put your new team in the best position to succeed.

Find a mentor.

The most experienced manager cannot lead well by themselves. Leaders need to embrace asking for help. Find a mentor, coach or internal sponsor. As a brand new manager, you need guidance and help even more. Don’t do things that push people away, but act in ways that bring them closer. to you.

What is an internal sponsor? Someone who you might trust or look up to whom is in a management role. You may not be able to meet them monthly, but try to meet with them, at least, quarterly. They can be a great sounding board for your new journey.

Don’t forget to investigate whether your organization has executive coaches engaged to help new managers too. This is another great way to get off on a good foot as a new manager.

Take responsibility for your development.

Often, brand new managers sit waiting for their own managers to put them on a development plan. This is the wrong way to take control of your new role. Take responsibility for your own journey. Develop a professional development plan for yourself. Make sure it includes reading books, taking free classes, monitoring workshops or class offerings your organization is offering, and attending conferences.

Another thing I see many managers do is forget the action items that are listed in their performance reviews. They assume that their manager should remind them, or some system will send reminders. Instead, mark your calendar with the due dates of the action items you need to complete that are in your review.

New managers who own their own development are much more successful in their new positions and are more impressive to the leadership team too.

Listen to your people.

One of the most important things I ever did for and with my people was to spend time with them. As a new manager, start off right by meeting one-on-one with your team members to find out more about them as people. What is their home life like? What do they enjoy doing on the weekends? Who are the most important people in their lives? Knowing this will make you a much more effective manager.

Don’t forget to ask them for feedback on what they would like to see from you as their manager. What bothered them about previous managers? What did they love from previous managers? When you spend time with them, you make them feel important. This makes them want to stay on your team.

If you plan to make any changes in your new department, also make sure to include your team members in the process. No one wants things to happen to them, but everyone wants to have a voice in the process of change happening around them. Be the catalyst to help your people feel like they can control even just the smallest parts of their role or department. It will make all the difference for them,

Build relationships first.

Although I placed this last, this is the most important thing on which new managers should focus. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “No on cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” You show that you care by building relationships with them.

When I refer to them, I mean to include your leadership team, your colleagues, people on other teams, your direct reports, and customers. You go farther and faster with the help of those around you. Don’t build silos around your team. Reach across departments to facilitate cross-functional collaboration. Put the people in your organization ahead of the tasks and the tasks will get done with more efficiency.

Relationships are the backbone to a successful management career. Make them count.


Becoming a new manager can be both exciting and nerve-wrecking. You can decide how you want to start out. If you focus on shifting your mindset, finding a mentor you can trust, taking responsibility for your development, listening to your team and putting your energy into building relationships, you will be in a better place to set off on the right foot.

As always, I am hear to help. Let me know if I can help you or your organization’s managers make the most positive impact they can.

97: Leaders With Heart Have a Clear Leadership Vision

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Don Davis, County Manager for Jefferson County, Colorado. Don shares about his leadership philosophy and vision, and a time when he was not the best leader he could be. He also sheds light on the difference between helping people get the tools they need to do their jobs and meeting their wants and needs. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Leaders should help their people understand who they really are.
  • Vulnerability is not a weakness.
  • Have a vision. Write it down. Post it, and then share it.
  • Manage things and lead people.
  • No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

This episode is fully packed with helpful insights. Listen and learn!
Don Davis’ Full BIO

Don Davis joined Jefferson County as county manager in May of 2017.

From 1990 until 2017, Don served his country in many different roles, locations and commands. He was deployed numerous times, including to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan as the Commanding Officer for Marine Corps Logistics Command Forward. The last few years of his career in the Marines, he assumed command of the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia for three years and then was the Chief of NORAD-NORTHCOM Theater Strategy and Campaign Plans Division.

After he retired from the military at the rank of Colonel, he moved on to his next adventure as County Manager, serving the citizens of Jefferson County, Colorado. He joined Jeffco in May 2017, where he enjoys serving alongside more than 3,000 dedicated employees.

Don is a graduate of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College; the Amphibious Warfare School; the Executive Leadership Program from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – Kenan-Flagler Business School; and the Marine Corps Executive Logistics Education Program at Penn State. He holds two master’s degrees; one in Public Administration from Webster University, graduating with high honors in March 1996 and a second in Strategic Studies from the Marine Corps War College in 2011.

Don, born in 1968 in Dover, New Jersey, graduated from Dover High School in June 1986. He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in May 1990 in the United States Marine Corps.He and his wife, Becky, have been married 29 years, and have been blessed with four children; Kaitlyn (27), Mackenzie (25), Jack (18), and Luke (16).

Public Service

I think this is a culmination of my service in the military, leading America’s finest men and women around the globe, to continue public service at the local level. It has been pretty amazing and a great opportunity for me.

My drive to lead started during my freshman year in college. I was immediately indoctrinated into the military where I understood the gravity of the service that I was about to enter. After I graduated, I fully understood that I was going to lead men and women, and sons and daughters, the most precious gifts that parents could give to the country. It was a pretty tremendous responsibility.

As a leader, it’s really hard to develop if you do not know yourself. - Don Davis #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Knowing Yourself

In Jefferson County, we have a leadership academy which focuses on not teaching people technical leadership skills, but teaching people who they are. One of the leadership traits and principles in the Marine Corps and in the military in general is to know yourself and seek further improvement. 

If we can teach leaders that, then we break those barriers down. Then, we tear down all of the walls and the defenses that they have placed around to protect themselves. As a result, they become more willing to be vulnerable.

For others, they view the military people to have “Big Tough Guy” mentalities. But I tell you, vast leaders in the military exhibit all the best leadership traits that any organization would find valuable. 

When a life is on the line and time is of the essence, you don’t have time to discuss and brainstorm. So, in times of crisis, you need immediate obedience and response. 

But all the other times, we are collaborative. When you have the time to deliberately plan and discuss, I don’t think there’s a more collaborative organization in the world than the US Military. We work together and come up with answers that nobody else would think of.

You lead men and women, so you got to have a direction for your life. - Don Davis #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Life Compass

Back in my days in the military, we used compasses for land navigation. We have to have an azimuth, which is a general direction that you follow in order to get to your destination.

When you come upon obstacles, like a river or a lake, you point the compass across that obstacle. Then, you find the reference point. Afterwards, you put the compass in your pocket, then you maneuver and walk around the obstacle. Next, you get back on your reference point, and then, you take the compass out of your pocket. Lastly, you get back on your azimuth.

Vision helps you in the good times and in the bad. You could get blind by the peaks of success or you could get lost in the valley of despair and troubles. But, you need to have a vision to direct you.

There are four things about a vision. First, you should have one. Second, you should white it down, so that you could remember it. Next, you should post it somewhere where you can see it, and remind yourself of it everyday. Most importantly, you need to share your vision with those around you, so they can keep you on task and on target. If you don’t share it, who is going to help you get back on your course?

You need to share your vision with those around you, so they can keep you on task and on target. - Don Davis #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

All people are created equal. - Don Davis #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

There’s a lot of different ways to mould leadership through mentoring and guidance. - Don Davis #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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The New Leaf of Your Leadership.

We are in a new year with the perfect time to turn over a new leaf of your leadership. It is truly head-spinning to see how quickly time goes by. This leaves us all with a choice. The choice to change or to stay the same. In what ways will you turn over a new leaf?

How will you treat yourself and others? What will you do to lift others up at home and at work? Will you make tough decisions you have been putting off? How will you leadership change?

Recently, my husband and I had to make the tough decision to transfer our daughter to a new school that would better meet her needs. She is a junior in high school, and she has some special needs. She is also a new driver, and we wanted her to be closer to home.

Was this a hard decision to make? In some ways, it was, and in some ways, we felt called to make it. Our daughter will be turning over a new leaf in the new year and so will we. With a new school means a new community to embrace. With a new school means a new mindset. With a new school means we all learn new ways of doing things.

Our hope is that she will continue to grow in new and different ways for the last part of her high school experience. Our hope is that she will turn over many new and enlightening leaves that will continue to reveal her purpose and her talents.

We are the leaders in our home. We decided to uplift our daughter and stretch her in the new year. I have no doubt, we will also do the same.

After I reviewed my successes last year, I wondered why my list wasn’t longer. It felt like I accomplished and did a lot! Then, I remembered: I left off all my kids’ accomplishments from that list. Why? As a mother of four kids ages 9-16, I facilitate many of the things they achieve. After remembering this, I realized why I felt like I had done so much. It’s because I helped them along their journey to accomplishments. This move to a new school is just one more thing my husband and I facilitated. It belongs on our list too.

What news leaves will you turn over this year as a leader at home or work? Is there something you left off your list of accomplishments last year that you will now add back on? Please do share.

96: Leaders With Heart Understand That Leadership Is About Courage And Vulnerability

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Cori Burbach, Assistant City Manager, City of Dubuque in Iowa about her drive to lead, a back drop to the type of leader that she is and her compelling story of a time when she was not the best leader she could be. 

Key takeaways:

  • Stand out. Be the leader who rolls up your sleeves and gets into the trenches with those you lead.
  • Understand that what you do or fail to do, and what you say impacts those you lead.
  • There are some workplace issues that cannot be fixed with just reading an article or changing a policy.
  • Focus on doing organizational knowledge transfers so that your learning is not lost on you.
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable if you want to lead.
  • Make your relationship with your people personal and not robotic.
  • Figuring out what your employees want and helping them is not just good to do. It is also strategic, as unlocking their potential helps meet their vision faster.
  • Find a mentor or a coach on this journey.

Note that this has racial undertones, but you will surely be inspired as you listen. Don’t miss this gem of an episode!
Cori Burbach’s Full BIO

Cori Burbach is Dubuque’s assistant city manager since 2017.  Prior to that, she served as the Sustainable Community Coordinator in 2009.  

As assistant city manager, she assists the city manager in directing the day-to-day operations of the City government and plays a key role in creating a more data-driven, high performance organization focusing on outcomes, including cross-departmental cooperation and integration with performance measurement and evaluation.  

Cori received her Masters in Public Administration from the University of Delaware and worked for local and state governments in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Iowa before coming to the City of Dubuque.  She is a member of the International City/County Management Association, and Dubuque Young Professionals. Her community involvement currently includes serving on the boards of local nonprofits such as DuRide, Creative Adventure Lab, and Operation New View community action agency.  

She is a mom to two beautiful children, Xander and Zoe.

Great Curiosity

I am at a point where I feel like, “Now I know the things I don’t know.”

I have worked with inspirational mentors. Also, I had the chance to do projects that have stretched me around emotional intelligence and leadership development. I am at a place where I have opened my brain up to the things I want to explore and allow to grow within myself. Right now, I am figuring out what to do next, and how I can make those things happen. I’m in the middle of this great curiosity.

It’s important to have a clear vision. More importantly, I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and get the work done alongside the people, doing whatever we need to do to make an impact.

Sometimes, as leaders, we feel all of the pressure to be able to stand up in the middle of the room and have the right answers. - Cori Burbach #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Parental Instincts

I was the weird kid in my freshman year in college who declared that I wanted my major to be public administration. My professors looked at me and said, “People do not even know that this is a major.”

I always knew that I had this drive for public service in local government. Now, I have this opportunity to be a leader not just for my organization and for the city, but also for the community.

When I think about the community, I think about every community member almost in the same way I think about my kids. 

What kind of community do I want my kids and other children in the city to grow up and live in? That is what drives me even in the hardest days. I am very lucky to be in this position. Many people do this through volunteer work, but I do them through my job. How cool is that?

We have about 700 employees and they feel like family to me. Most days I spend more time with them than with my own family. 

I think it is something that parents give a lot. It’s almost a maternal or paternal feeling of how to help the community, particularly helping the people to show up and serve every day.

Especially in the public sector, most of our employees have that kind of parental instinct. They show up because they want to make a difference too. So, how can I help them do that?

It is hard for most leaders to come from a place of vulnerability. - Cori Burbach #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Growing Pains

We have been a primarily white organization and community for many years. Just like other communities, we are experiencing growth and diversity which is awesome. Now, we have been really working hard to recruit and retain that diverse work force. Also, that means a lot of growing pains.

We’re going through trainings. We’re working on relationships. One of the topics we have been recently working on is about micro aggressions. It’s an idea of a “death by a thousand paper cuts.” Someone might not say something that is explicitly racist or sexist, but they do not even know that how or what they are saying is impacting somebody.

If we’re going to make an impact on racial and gender issues in the organization, you cannot just read an article and have a policy in it fixed. I realized that when I say things related to these issues on whatever intent I have, there are physical, mental, and emotional processes they go through.

Leadership is about vulnerability and about being brave. Even when you don’t know how to react when comments come up, you have got to say something.

We’re going to make mistakes. But that’s how we grow in our relationships and in our leadership. - Cori Burbach #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

How comfortable do your people feel around you? - Cori Burbach #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

We live in a world where the majority of the people do not trust the government. - Cori Burbach #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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