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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