123: Leaders with Heart are Co-Owners of a Vision with Those They Lead

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Craig Miller, President of FOCUS or Fellowship of Catholic University Students, about his leadership style, where his drive to lead comes from, his focus on minimizing his ego and much more!

Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t focus on serving yourself but serving others.
  • Decide whether or not you are claiming positions out of ego.
  • Bring people along with you by spending time with them, and help them see their role in a vision.
  • Search for those who have an ownership mentality and not a hireling mentality.
  • Try to harness a common mission.

Craig Miller is the president of FOCUS. 

In 2003, after a career in Silicon Valley that included leading sales and cooperative marketing for Cisco’s global accounts, Craig accepted Curtis’ invitation to help manage the operational needs created by FOCUS’ growth. Since then, Craig has overseen all aspects of operations, administration, development, and finance as FOCUS continues to grow and develop on more than 100 campuses today.

He lives in Genesee, Colorado with his wife, Melissa, and four of their six children.

Student of Leadership

I’m a student who is always in a mode of learning. I think one of my greatest fears is to watch things in your life happen to other people. I think it will only happen if you let it, like thinking that you have arrived and stopped at being a student of leadership. There’s just so much to learn.

I am blessed with working with a lot of young people in the work that I do. There’s so much to learn there, and hopefully the journey continues. I am always a willing participant, and I will take up as much as I’m allowed to.

Get a drive from a more pure place. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Building People

A lot of people who work on missions have personal goals that align really well. With these people, it’s more like brothers and sisters in a band together for a common purpose. It changes the way you perceive your staff and how you manage them.

But I struggled with why it isn’t good enough in itself. Why is having people with a great passion or temperament for the type of work they’re going to do not good enough? Why can’t we just let it work there? If things aren’t really working out for them, or they’re not really thriving in the selected work, why don’t we just leave them alone?

You owe it to your people to challenge them to be the best in what they’re doing and to give them a sense of pride, being, success and achievement towards the things they believe in. Nobody wants to flounder. Nobody wants to be left somewhere where 10 years later, they look back and say, “I’m not sure. What did I do? I didn’t make a difference, and I don’t feel like I learned a lot. Nobody ever challenged me.”

Find that place within a very loving, not for profit environment or find that place where you’re calling people to whatever God has gifted them with—talent, virtues, experiences—and help them plug those in so they have full meaning to them.

If I have a particular vision, I know how to get there, and other people want to come along, that feels like a full invitation for leadership. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet I found my voice strongest when something is wrong and unfair in areas of justice. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Owning the Vision

I think it’s always good to be patient, sit back, spend time with people, and bring them to your vision that’s driving your passion. Take the time to communicate it, let them have the drive and then move forward with them.

It’s so important to not put yourself in a relational position with others while you’re heading on a common mission together, or whatever that might be. I think it’s very important to create a separation, in a sense that it’s your vision. You are the owner, and they support, or they are the laborers in this vision. 

I once heard a great talk on an owner mentality versus a hireling mentality. If you want to establish a group of hirelings, they have a mercenary mindset. So, they’ll do what you ask them to do.

It’s better to build owners. You could give them things to own and really allow ownership mentality and energy to come alive in them. Then bring that ownership in their hearts, all into a common mission. With that, you’re in a much better place.

You have to change the way you think about everything. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetYou owe it to your people to challenge them to be the best in what they're doing. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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Choose to See the Light in Others.

Light in others

I had an interesting relationship with my grandmother. On one hand, she worked hard to keep me hidden from her friends in her Orthodox Jewish community given my brown skin. On the other hand, she was my biggest advocate, always pushing me to go to law school and be a strong and confident person. I was never allowed to go to family gatherings, but she and I enjoyed visiting the kosher deli when she visited me in Colorado. No photos of me lined the walls of her home, but mine were the only ones to be seen in her bedroom after her death. No matter her shortcomings, I could always see the light in her.

My best friend in college would always ask me how I could love my mother’s side of the family. Not surprisingly, she never understood my very complicated relationship with them. How could I expect her to? Her experience was different than mine. Her frame was not filled with as much rejection, feelings of being unworthy and a deep desire to belong.

After a lifetime of living inside that complexity, I found myself in a gifted position; I could see people as multi-dimensional and forgive their imperfections in a way that others could not. Thankfully, I had this way of seeing the smallest of positive changes even in the most broken people. I had a deep belief that people could be good, wanted to be better, needed to fight harder to get there, but they needed help.

After introspection, I think this belief is what made me a caring manager, makes me an empathetic coach, and helps me meet my clients where they are when partnering with them for cultural change. I can’t help myself in seeing the light in others!

This frame, or way of walking through the world, is not always easy, because people often disappoint. I know I disappoint as well. Sometimes, I am more disappointed in their disappointment in themselves. I hope so much for their fruitful growth. I think that I see my hope as an elixir to uplift others. It’s worked before. Maybe, it can work next time too?

This might all sound like a naïve way to live, but it is my way. I could have chosen to be an unforgiving pessimist who mistrusted everyone and fell victim to my circumstances. I chose a different path. As such, today and every day, I choose to see the light in everyone who comes my way. I watch for it! I don’t ignore the darkness, but I don’t rest in it, and I intentionally switch my lens. By doing so, I find the most fascinating truths in the most unlikely places. It also allows me to truly be a catalyst for deep transformation.

I hope the same for you as well.

With fondness, I still hear my grandmother’s voice calling me, “Hedda Hoppa”, which was just a loving nickname she would call me. In my heart, I will never forget her telling me to, “Keep your chin up and never let’em see you sweat!”.  Yes, I choose to focus on those memories.

I choose to see the light.

122: Leaders with Heart That We All Get Better One Step at a Time

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Matt Sweetwood, CEO of LUXnow, on his leadership style, his strong drive to lead, and where it comes from. He also shares how he treats his employees like family, and his very profound story of adversity and rebirth.

Key takeaways:

  • When things go wrong in life and business, focus on fixing one thing at a time while looking forward.
  • Sometimes when we are easy on team members whose performance is short, we enable them to fail. Then, that failure becomes our own.
  • Set the bar high, live it and then raise it once your team members meet the bar.
  • Regarding challenges, this too shall pass if you make it pass.
  • Succeed one step at a time.
Hope you don’t miss this episode. Listen and learn!

Matt Sweetwood is the CEO of LUXnow – the marketplace for luxury autos, homes and yachts. 

He is an internationally known professional speaker, author and life coach. With over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience, Matt has been credited with the reinvention of the modern camera store. However, his greatest achievement is having raised five successful children to adulthood as a single dad. 

He is a frequent TV and publication contributor and has a #1 best-selling book: “Leader of the Pack: How a single dad of five led his kids, his business and himself from disaster to success.”

Success, A Habit

When success is a habit, you’re just driven to make sure to end the day more successful than before. Finding success is what makes me complete as a human being. If I fail at something, I really take a deep look at it and try to overcome. If there’s something in your life that you want badly enough, you’re going to make it happen.

I want to be successful. I don’t want to be a failure in front of my kids. When I retire someday, I don’t want to be sitting there, figuring out how I’m going to pay the bills. Drive for success comes from within.

Being able to feel somebody and put yourself in their circumstance actually helps you lead them. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Tough Love

I always treat my staff like my family. I have written hundreds of articles, and some of the popular ones talked about how similar leadership in business is with parenting at home. In fact, one of my articles that was featured best of the day on LinkedIn was, “What’s the difference between great parenting and great leadership?” My conclusion, of course, is that they are the same.

I think sometimes I’m too easy on my staff. I am too humanistic with them. Sometimes, in a CEO position, you have to be a little more ruthless. Every time I say that to myself, the name Mike Bloomberg comes to mind. He had a reputation for being ruthless. He has a long standing reputation of throwing resigning people out of the window and never speaking with them. But he became a billionaire.

I’m not saying this that I want to be like them, but I just think it’s an interesting study on leadership—to find the balance between having your staff love you and hate you, and what’s the right mix to find the most success. It’s something that I deal with all the time.

I was the good guy. My door is always open. I deal with my staff on a personal basis. But I sometimes wonder whether I should have been a whole lot harder. Maybe I would have found more success or more balance, I don’t know.

If I want it badly enough, I'm going to win. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetYou cannot be successful unless you're in good shape. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Raise Your Level

Sometimes when you’re too easy on an employee you enable them to fail. I think being too easy on a poorly performing employee enables their failure. Then the failure becomes yours. 

You have an obligation as a leader to correct people obviously in a kind way, never in a demeaning way. If you don’t do that, then the failure is yours.

Your job as a leader is to never let your level, go to the level of your staff. You have to bring them to your level. The goal is, you bring everybody to your level. When they get to yours, raise your level then bring them up again. That’s how you build the biggest and best of enterprises.

Always keep pushing yourself to be better. Never allow your standards, your morals and your ideology in any way to be compromised. Your principles always have to stay in in charge. 

If you’re the leader, you’re leading the company. You’re responsible for failure or success. Make sure you don’t fail because you lowered your level. Simple as that.

Let us start fixing things one by one. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetJust keep going and enjoy it. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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121: Leaders with Heart Accept the Truth of Their Leadership

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Kristin Fox, VP of HR at Gyrodata about her leadership style and where her drive to lead comes from. She also shares on the ways she was not the the best version of herself and what strategies she used to show up better.

Key Takeaways:

  • Take time with your people and leave the boss back at the office.
  • Try to establish a deeper connection especially now during a crisis.
  • Help your people through the struggle and model it.
  • Find cheerleaders who believe in you and will help you through rough patches.
  • Value the differences in those around you to help you see things differently.
Have an insightful week by listening to this gem of an episode!

Kristin Fox is a human resources leader passionate about putting the “human” back into HR. She has worked in the HR field for 20 years, currently serving as Vice President of HR for Gyrodata Incorporated. Kristin obtained her Master’s Degree in HR from the University of Texas and is a certified Senior Professional in HR (SPHR).

When Kristin isn’t working, you will find her spending time with her husband, Roger, and six kids or hiding somewhere with a good book to avoid the six kids. 

Founded in 1980, Gyrodata is one of the world’s leading providers of technologies and differentiated services to the energy industry.  Gyrodata’s unique products and services portfolio enables its clients to maximize hydrocarbon recovery and optimize an asset’s lifecycle cost.  With approximately 1,000 employees operating in over 50 countries in virtually every energy market in the world, Gyrodata is uniquely positioned to provide services from a global platform with a focus on technology, service quality, people and clients. the leading supplier worldwide of precision wellbore survey services to the energy, mining, environmental and construction industries

Learning, Empowering

I’m still learning in my leadership journey, and I hope it never stops. I’ve learned so much in my 20-year career working in HR. I’ve made many mistakes and errors along the path that created the leader I am hopefully trying to be today. I’m still trying to observe more, and get better in time. 

My goal is to focus on empowering others, whether that be from example or just lessons learned. I try to value using my influence in areas where I can showcase empathy or stewardship by actions. I make sure that I support them in their endeavors.

You're only as good as your team. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Inner Compass

I hope my people feel supported. I love to challenge them. I love to see how far they’re willing to challenge themselves and how far they can go. I really get the value of working with them as a team, and not have the boss title all of the time. I’m there to support.

When I was 15, my father unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack. He was only 48. I remember watching my mom trying to pick up the pieces, despite dealing with her own grief and watching a confused angry teenager. I realized years later that we probably would not have made it had she not had her own career separate from my father.

I watched my mother’s determination. Her independence just set an example for me to make sure that I always strive for that excellent stride in life. 

I think as a leader it’s those defining moments that become your inner compass to remind you of where you came from and what you’ve endured. I’ve had those reminders when life gets tough. It’s the core of how I want to be as a person and as a leader.

It's vital for leaders today to get feedback and really try not to work independently. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetI am not going to be an expert in everything, even though I want to be. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Embracing Failures

I have failed so many times and have taken wrong turns. I had to eat many pieces of humble pie in my past than I’d like to admit. But, I’ve also learned how to embrace it. 

Embracing your failures is like hugging a cactus. It hurts. But to learn very quickly, I’ve had to hug a lot of cactuses. It’s not fun, but the sooner you embrace it, the sooner you can move on.

I am very fortunate to have a couple of trustworthy and valued peers, who have seen me at my worst and at my best. I know that they’re going to be truthful and supportive. I just call them, and say, “Look what happened. Look what I did. I’m so embarrassed.” It was as if the die was already cast.

I just shut my mouth and listen to what my peers had to say. Did I agree with all of their advice and opinions? No, but the truth doesn’t really care about our opinions, whether it hurts or not.

Find supporters and assured leaders because we need them now more than ever. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetSelf awareness is so important. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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Transformation: It Starts With You!

transformation

Through the COVID-19 crisis and the racial unrest, there are two main ways of thinking: Let’s hunker down and wrap our arms around the status quo, or let’s jump in and go for extreme amounts of transformation. The latter thinking can debilitate some and make them retreat into the first way to thinking very quickly.

I want to suggest a third way of thinking about our current circumstances, and do not be fooled into thinking that the issues we are facing are someone else’s issues to solve, we are all in this.

Transformation is defined as, “a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance..”

What if we chose to transform just ourselves? What if we started today to think differently about our circumstances? What if we could pinpoint the one thing, or a series of things we could individually do to make us, our workplaces, our world, a better place? Why wait for tomorrow, or next year to start that journey?

I have heard many, who are not people of color, echo words of fear, doubt, helplessness, and show signs of being stuck. If you are reading this and feel stuck, either because of the circumstances around COVID-19 or those around the racial divide, commit to getting unstuck. Do one new thing today to learn more. Do one new thing to show empathy for a fellow human. Do one new thing today to change your thinking, which will positively impact how you behave.

Transformation starts from within you. It starts from within each one of us. Sure. We can try to change systems and process and that will help. First, though, we must commit to a change in us. Today is the day! Don’t wait for the light to turn green. You are in control of how you show up and whether your transformation will touch the lives of those around you. Give it a try!

Transformation

Just a downloadable infographic to help you think about culture transformation once you have conquered the idea of individual transformation and the role you play in organizational success.

 

120: Leaders with Heart Don’t Seek Perfection in Themselves

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Stephen Christopher about his leadership style and where his drive to lead come from. He also shares about the time when he allowed himself to hold onto an employee who was not open to change, what he did to come out of that circumstance, and what he does now to stop himself for doing that. 

Key takeaways:

  • Set aside time to be with people who just need to talk.
  • Look for greatness in people, but they have to want to improve.
  • Be a student of learning.
  • All your people to be their greatest selves.
Jumpstart your week by listening to this wonderful episode. Enjoy!

Stephen Christopher is the founder of a multi million marketing agency, Wit Digital, that serves home service companies. With a huge passion in intuitive guiding and coaching, He has been able to inspire people to become more than they ever thought possible. 

Stephen helps home service companies grow their business through proper digital marketing strategies customized based on their objectives. He also inspires leaders to learn that they’re in control of their lives and how to harness the power of creation to choose the life they desire to live. 

Stephen also helps business owners exit the day to day of their business while still owning the company, as well as inspiring them to become more than they ever thought possible. 

Student of Leadership

I’ve started a couple companies over the last 15 years and I’ve been running teams really ever since then. I’ve been leading groups of people for well over a decade, but at the same time, I feel like I’m still young, every single day. 

I’m still learning because there’s always something new that comes up—like new situations where I can apply everything I have learned in the past but also learn something new from it. I guess, I’m just a student of leadership.

Be honest with your teams. They don't expect you to be perfect in every single moment. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Building Up

I don’t believe that I’ll ever be a graduated professional. It’s a constantly evolving learning experience, especially based on how the world outside changes. 

We’re so far different than we were 10 years ago in the world. As those things continue to evolve and change, there’s never one answer that’s going to fit. And, there’s no finish line.

If somebody comes with a problem or an issue, or maybe they’re feeling great, oftentimes what they say the problem is, is really not necessarily the issue nor the root of it. 

That’s why I’m always trying to figure out the more of the root, so we can address something deeper and apply them in a lot more areas. It takes a while to build up that level of trust to where your team will actually tell you the truth. It can take years. But it’s well worth it.

Be gentle on yourself. Take into consideration lessons we can learn from the things we did and how we can do better next time. But that’s it. It’s purely factual information. There’s no need to tie heavy emotions to it because that just drains our energy. 

Also, it makes us a much less effective leader. Nobody wants to go to work or be led by who is down and not being the best version of themselves that they can.

We need every leader to get a little bit better every single day to make the world a better place. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetThere's nothing you can change about where you are today because the past has already been written. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The First Piece

When talking about why, mine is to inspire people to become more than they ever thought possible. Leadership is like “I know that you can. I know you are capable more than you even are aware, and I’m going to offer you the ability to start to tease that out a little bit.”

The most exciting thing for me is having somebody come to us. You hear some leaders say like, “Oh, if only they would try a little harder. If only. How can I get them to work a little harder.”

People making those statements believe that if their people would work a little harder, they would give them a little bit more. But it’s the opposite.

You must give them more, then they will create the things that you’re looking for—better client relationships better output, more creativity and more innovation. You’ve got to put the first piece.

We're all in this human experience. None of us have all of the answers. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetWe're just so hard on ourselves, but it doesn't do us any good. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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What We Do Not Understand Can Hurt Us.

understand

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Mari Curie

 

Given the recent tragedy surrounding George Floyd’s death, I realize more than ever that what we do not understand can hurt us. This past week, I was blessed to speak with many I consider allies. Why? They are my white colleagues who feel the pain and plight of African Americans, and they are inspired to understand our lens more deeply and to take deliberate action to use their influence to promote change.

The most impressive thing about these allies is that they want to fall on the sword for a battle they did not start. Nonetheless, they realize we all have a role to play and they are not cowering.

The work that I do around uncovering and using the voices of employees is a way for me to help organizational leaders understand what their people need from them to have better more magnetic experiences at work. It is my seeking to understand, the leaders’ willingness to allow this work and the employees’ openness to share their truths that make my venture successful.

If we are to learn from and change from George Floyd’s death, we must seek to understand each view, because what we do not understand can hurt us. Not knowing means we fear it.

Then, we must all be seekers of the truth and proclaimers of love, compassion, and unity. We must stand in one another’s shoes and embrace the allies among us. Despite it all, we must be courageous in this battle to rid the world of narrow-minded, fear-filled thinking and replace it with an openness to listen to understand.

Some time back, my daughter chose to deliver a Malcolm X speech to a class who were predominantly white. Before choosing that speech, she did not know much of his life. While learning more, she sought to understand his struggle and the stories he shared of teachers who told him he would amount to nothing. She was attracted to his struggle, because she struggled with learning delays, and was often surrounded by people who implied she could not do certain things.

She felt his pain, and she felt compelled to share his story. Her courage while reciting his speech was palpable to her classmates and teacher. Her teacher commented about how well she did, but as she recalled, he was obviously uncomfortable and defensive given some of Malcom X’s rhetoric. No matter, after pondering her talk for days, he decided that they would study more about black history the following semester. In the end, my daughter felt validated.

We must all set our intent to listen more actively to what others are saying. We must all set our hearts to feel more of what others are feeling. Therefore, let us all seek to understand  countering views and embrace the enlightening differences. Set out to include voices you might not ever think to invite into an ever-expanding conversation. Broach topics that make you uncomfortable for the sake of learning.

My daughter’s courage brought on change, and it all started by her desire to understand more about a man who would be an unlikely story for her to tell. What we do not understand can hurt us, and what we seek to understand and share with others can set us free!

Transformation

This is a downloadable infographic that you can use as inspiration to help change your thinking to a more forward-thinking view. 

This is just a small gift to you as you join me on the journey to transformation.

119: Leaders With Heart Understand Who They Are And Use It To Lead Well

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In this episode, Heather speaks to Karen Weeks about her leadership journey and the way she sees how the differences in leadership styles impact the way we lead. She also shares more about her drive to lead and interesting lessons she learned when she left a team member out of an important meeting:

Key takeaways:

  • Collaborate with team members to ensure you aren’t making assumptions about their future opportunities.
  • Understand your unique style and how that helps you lead better.
  • Our mistakes inform our future decisions. Don’t hide from them, but embrace them.
  • Feedback is a gift.
Start your week right by listening to this wonderful episode. Enjoy!

Over fifteen years ago, Karen made a career change from theatre to HR and never looked back!  She found her passion in helping organizations build amazing cultures while guiding individuals to find success in their careers.  Karen is a results-focused, strategic partner, whose drive is to help companies build and scale their teams and culture to meet their business goals.  Her passion is around talent development, organizational effectiveness, change management and helping individuals build fulfilling careers.   She has been asked to speak on several panels, podcasts and serve as a guest writer on change fatigue, bringing a company’s values to life, scaling culture without sounding like “HR” and overall talent development.  She recently published her first book, “Setting the Stage: A Guide to Preparing for any Feedback Conversation” which is now available on Amazon.  Recently, she was named one of the 2020 Notable Women in Talent by Crain’s New York Business.

Currently, Karen serves as the VP of People at Ordergroove, where she is building the people strategy and focuses on maintaining a strong culture during the growth stage of the company, including winning Best Companies to Work in New York two years in a row!  Additionally, she can be found teaching management and HR strategy courses at Baruch College and as a professional development coach with GoCoach.  Karen’s academic credentials include an MS in Human Resources Development from Villanova University and a BA in Theatre Arts from Elon University.   She lives in NYC with her husband of almost 20 years and her furry babies.

Realizing Leadership

I felt like I kind of fell into leadership. I think it is partially because of being in an HR role. You’re always working with other people and helping them in their journey, so you sort of lose track of your own. All of a sudden, I would realize that now I’m the leader. In the moment of struggle, I would say, “Wait, I am actually the leader in this situation.” I’m the one people are looking up to.

I love what I do. I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years now. I truly see myself as a leader for the whole organization, whether it’s my direct team or the other folks.

You don't have to be a manager to be a leader. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Bettering Leadership

You don’t have to be a manager to be a leader. A lot of engineers don’t want to be managers, so they become architects or things that are just much more senior individual contributors. In those roles descriptions, we would talk about team leader, culture champion, and things that we actually look for in our people managers. Yet, it was important for them to have those qualities, even if they didn’t manage people. It took a while for me to realize that it actually applies to me as well.

Anybody can be a leader. It’s more about knowing your style and how you’re going to use that to be a better leader. It’s important to know your styles. Maybe someone more introverted or more analytical can’t be or will be a better leader than someone else. Do it in your own style.

Back in the day, having feelings and talking to people like humans was a bad thing. It’s supposed to be business only. Either because they were afraid or they were misunderstood. Actually, being human and showing that side of you is what will make you a better leader.

Vulnerability, approachability, empathy, being willing to try something and fail, and try again are what’s making good leaders these days. That’s all based on who you are as a person and how you think about other human beings.

We are all humans in this journey together. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetIf we are putting someone in a manager role, they need to have the maturity to have tough conversations. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Bringing People

I’m very approachable and supportive. I want you to see me as a human. At the end of the day, we are humans coming together, all with the same goal. I want to get to know you. 

I want you to be able to talk to me about things that are going on in your life. I want to know what’s important to you, whether that is in your career, or in your personal life. How can I support and help you get the things that are important to you?

In general, I did not want that spotlight. Looking back at my childhood, I realized I was always trying to bring people together. I wanted people to have a shared experience or shared journey for them to enjoy it. I think that’s a lot of what leadership actually is—bringing people together, supporting them, helping them achieve their goals.

Most people will rather hear tough or confusing stuff, because when you hear nothing you fill in the gaps with negativity every single time. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetVulnerability, approachability, empathy, being willing to try something and fail, and try again are what's making good leaders these days. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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Refuse to Meet Hate at the Door.

It is my turn to speak out against the recent death of George Floyd and many other innocent black men, but one thing you must know first is that I refuse to meet hate at the door. 

For those who know me, you know that I already have a family background riddled with narrow-minded thinking. For those who don’t know me, take a peek at this TEDx talk to learn a little more. 

The officer who killed George Floyd deserves to pay the price for taking his life. What he did was against the law and against morality. He showed a total disregard for human life. Justice must be served.

What is frustrating me now is how a few protesters  are ruining everything for the bunch. I went to college for political science and then graduated from law school.  I believe in the political process. I vote in elections, and I believe in the right for peaceful protest.

I have four children, three of whom are future black men. Frankly, I am afraid for them. For years now, my husband and I coach them on the “right” way to dress, speak, walk,  and how to interact with law enforcement. 

I am not naive. I was born into a family that hid me from their friends, because I am black.  Some might think that I should be angry for that. Because I believe in grace and forgiveness, I was able to thrive past that truth.

I am more angry about what continues to happen to black men, going on runs, walking down the street, resting in their homes. 

Through it all, though, I refuse to meet hate at the door. 

My mom taught me to never use the word, “hate” and, instead, use “dislike”, because hate is a very strong word. and it elicits negative thoughts and emotions that can cloud our judgement.  She also told me that we should always take the higher ground, never stoop to someone else’s level and to judge people by the content of their character. These teachings walk with me everyday.

What teachings are walking with you? What teachings were walking with the officer responsible for George Floyd’s death?

George’s tragic death is a reminder for us all of how much we disregard human life and dignity, how we suffer from a lack of empathy for our fellow humans, and how much people hold negative perceptions of people with brown skin. 

I know that last one all too well, but no matter what: I refuse to meet hate at the door.

I love my enemies and those who look down on me. Why? Because I know that much of how we show up is the filter we brought from our past. Ignorance is the fuel for racism and hatred. I know better. I will not let hate win the day!

What that officer did to George Floyd is a tragedy. It’s a scary reality for black men and their families. This reality is in our schools, our workplaces and in our government.

I learned long ago that we are all fallible. We are all imperfect, but we must seek justice for the wronged and steer clear of hatred.

Let’s continue with peaceful protest. Let’s show up to the polls to vote in the primary and general elections. Let’s run for public offices. Let’s teach in our schools. Let’s make sure that we raise our children to respect human life, to believe in justice and to forgive more than we remain angry.

I refuse to meet hatred at the door, because we have a choice to step outside of anger and into a place of prayer, peace and unity. We choose how we show up.

I am not a black man, but I am raising three future black men. I pray that when they grow up, they refuse to meet hate at the door.

be best human

If you would like to stay in control of your mindset during this crazy time, Here is a small gift from me that can boost your mood and keep you focused on what is important.  Just click this link to download it.