168: Leaders with Heart Look Out for Their People

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In this episode, Heather interviews Christiano Gherardini, President/Owner at Turnkey Technologies, Inc., a Gold Microsoft Dynamics Partner. Christiano started the company about 27 years ago – and now serves local, regional, and national customers. They sell and implement accounting software and CRM software across the US that help businesses replace their legacy business systems and automate their financials and operations. His company, Turnkey Technologies, Inc., makes businesses more efficient and profitable.

Key Takeaways: 
  • The culture within an organization is an essential aspect of the business.
  • Transactional decisions are straightforward – the human ones are the difficult ones. 
  • As the leader, he must make the hard decisions within the company.
  • Knowing your people outside of the office gives you a better understanding of who they are and their struggles.
  • Getting to know your teams helps you help them.

Your best producer could be your most toxic employee. – Christiano Gherardini #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


Christiano Gherardini is the President/Owner at Turnkey Technologies, Inc., a Gold Microsoft Dynamics Partner. Christiano started the company about 27 years ago – and now serves local, regional, and national customers.

He graduated from the University of Missouri with a BS in Computer Science and Math and was part of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. Soon after graduating, he joined Grace & Company, where he worked as an Accounting Software Consultant/Developer for over seven years. 


Furthermore, Christiano started Turnkey Technologies, Inc. in 1994 and has been the President/Owner of the company ever since. The company now has over 50 employees all across the country. They work together to sell, create, and implement accounting and CRM software to help businesses achieve their goals.

Turning Point

In 2018 I was diagnosed with the big “C” word that everyone fears. It was a hard time in my life – but thankfully, I am healthy and much better now. As for most of us, my life being at risk made me think about how I was living it. I like to think that I was a good person before cancer, but being sick put into perspective what was important and what wasn’t. For example, before getting sick, my company’s health insurance didn’t cover short-term and long-term disability – but now it does. Beforehand it was an option to opt into it, but not a requirement. But who would choose to be sick? Nobody. So now, it’s included in their health insurance. These are things that no one thinks about beforehand, and it’s my responsibility as the leader to make sure to prepare for the unexpected.

christiano gherardini leadership podcast

It's up to you as the leader to make those hard decisions. – Christiano Gherardini #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet 

Work Culture

When I think back to my leadership style in the past, I think, “maybe I was too tolerant of bad elements in the organization.” Because as a leader, “everybody looks for my example and for me to make those hard decisions, and when you let somebody exist that’s toxic, and you don’t deal with the situation on a timely basis, then you create a fallout.” So, looking back, those problems were my own fault. Those decisions have always been hard for me. The transactional choices are easy – but the ones that involve my people are always the hardest.

Showing Empathy at Work

 I could have never imagined that I would get sick. Those are things that no one plans or anticipates. We “have always been pretty bullish with benefits” but didn’t include short-term and long-term disability coverage until after I was sick myself. It’s one of those things that no one thinks about until it’s too late. “People need those types of health insurance coverages because they can’t plan when something’s going to show up and interrupt their lives,” so now all of our plans include it. Moreover, going through it myself taught me empathy and truly changed my perspectives on benefits and the importance of supporting my people through their hardships. 

If somebody really doesn't fit into the organization then we must take action, and if you can't correct them or get them to self correct, then they gotta leave. -Christiano Gherardini #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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Remote Work Culture: A Stronger Connection than Your Wifi

woman with a dog at home remote work
No Such Thing as a Normal Zoom Call

Almost every Zoom call I’ve been on this year has been quietly interrupted by my dog. The door in my basement office opens slowly and no one visibly comes through it, but down there under the desk Alex snuggles up around my ankles. And on many of these calls I’ve introduced her to whomever is on the other end of the screen. 

How many of us have had similar experiences to this? Kids, spouses, pets, parents and grandparents have made appearances in what used to be our mostly cloistered work lives. I’ve laughed at tale after tale of awkward moments created by the weird world where we’ve been working where we live. 

An employee here at Employee Fanatix recently spent time working from her family’s home watching her younger siblings. A regular Zoom meeting that week actually established a deeper connection between my two employees on the call, as they bonded over similar family lives and the joy and distraction caused by momentarily working in a home around children. 

For many people, it is not a momentary occurrence. With limited travel and the closure of so many office spaces, many Americans have greeted their homes as their offices everyday for over a year. So many of us haven’t ventured from our towns for months on end. Research shows that “More than a third of U.S. households reported working from home more frequently than before the pandemic” (The United States Census Bureau).

Whether you have had an awkward Zoom encounter, or just an out of place one, as it stands, our lives and our work have been stirred up together. Those who work with us on a regular basis have probably grown to know us on a much deeper level. How many of your coworkers are more familiar with the real “you” after the past 14 months? 

The Uncomfortable Truth

My point is, the more you get to know the whole person, in any relationship, the better the relationship will be. 

I devote an entire chapter in my latest book, The Art of Caring Leadership: How Leading with Heart Uplifts Teams and Organizations. How does one go about leading the whole person? Well, I can confidently say we’ve come a lot farther in the past year than maybe ever before. 

The act of getting to know someone, like really getting to know them, can be uncomfortable for many people. These awkward situations and unfortunate circumstances that have drawn our workplaces apart, have in many ways thrown them closer together. 

Now you might know about each of your coworkers’ children, and you’ve maybe even met them through a computer screen. Or, perhaps, you learned of another coworkers’ hardship within the home. Many people experienced illness and death mere feet from their latest ‘office’. Knowing these details about a person’s life is not a lighthearted matter. Your empathy muscle should be twitching and yes, it might be uncomfortable. But we can now be there for our team member’s and colleagues in a way we never really were before. 

You Know More Than You Think

Leading the whole person means showing true acceptance of team members by intentionally expressing empathy, compassion and understanding. 

Whether you wanted this deeper glimpse into your team members’ lives or not, please rise to the occasion and be a Caring Leader (even if you aren’t leadership). Incorporate your new perspective of your team into the way you treat them. I guarantee this has already happened naturally, or been brought about by the adjustments to work from home culture. 

If you reached out to your team about the world behind their computer screens when they were miles away from you, then be sure to continue that behavior when you meet in person. People’s lives and their many complications aren’t going anywhere. But, as they seem to drift further into the background while in-person work slowly ramps up, don’t forget about those connections forged across wifi networks and cell towers during that crazy Covid year. 

Have personal one-on-one conversations. Acknowledge the stronger more weathered bonds you have with your team when you meet in a new environment. Check in on their families, their personal lives, heck even their pets! Your team members will thank you and your jobs will be fruitful. People who feel cared for will in turn take care of the work they were hired to do.

167: Leaders with Heart Understand that Caring is About Action

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In this episode, Heather speaks directly with her listeners about the inspiration behind her book and some updates regarding the Caring Leadership Ecosystem of the book, assessment, and community.

Key Takeaways:

  • Leaders must make their employees feel seen and heard.
  • The Caring Leadership community is now open.
  • There is a free version of the Caring Leadership assessment.
  • The Caring Leadership ecosystem is a support system for individuals who want to be better.
  • Leading with Heart creates a ripple effect.

Caring Leadership is showing concern and kindness to those you lead in very consistent ways. – Heather R. Younger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Why Did I Write This Book?

In the past I had experienced leaders who made it obvious that they did not care for me or my peers. As an only child I feel closer to my friends, coworkers, and peers than most people because everyone is my brother and sister. Seeing how many of the leaders I interacted with did not take the time to treat their employees like humans inspired me to go out of my way to make a difference. I like to lead with care, heart and compassion and I wanted to influence others to do this as well.


Caring Leadership Ecosystem

I want to take a moment and update you on what’s been happening and where this journey of Caring Leadership has taken me. When I was writing my book, The Art of Caring Leadership, I had this vision of creating a support system for my readers, viewers, and listeners. This vision was greater than myself and my book, but really a way to extend the belief system within the book into an interactive platform with other caring-leaders-in-development.

One Manager at a Time

Although I’ve had my fair share of managers who didn’t show up as Caring Leaders, I have also had a few who did and they have stuck with me. I had a manager, early in my career, who could sense that I felt unheard within the company. He took the time to sit me down and address my concerns even though I had never mentioned it. A simple 5 minute conversation allowed me to feel seen, heard, and motivated to be able to do my job.

Get on the Caring Leadership journey and be better. – Heather R. Younger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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What Triggers You?


Have you ever been asked what are your biggest pet peeves? One of my employees was just asked this recently, and mentioned that it’s a question posed to her quite often. Pet peeve is just a more common and light-hearted term for something we all experience, triggers.

On our HR Community Hour last week, we discussed triggers and how to address them. One recommendation I always stress is spending time to diagnose and recognize your own emotional triggers, to learn them and in turn minimize the effects they can have on your wellbeing. 

Just like being asked about your pet peeves, start to consider how you would respond when asked about what gets you ticking. If we can be aware of our trigger points, we will be able to begin dissociating ourselves with them and stay focused instead of losing our cool. Some of the triggers we discussed on the following:

A Glimpse of Some of Our Triggers

Diversity and Inclusion

If you haven’t sensed an increased focus on the DEI front across our nation’s workplaces then you’re among the few that have not. This article published by SHRM on August 3, 2020 states that change is coming, One-third of those surveyed have hosted or plan to host an employee meeting—such as a town hall—to discuss the stance and actions they plan to take against racial injustice, SHRM found”. 

The article continues: 

One-fourth of organizations surveyed are creating new policies and systems to reduce systemic and structural bias, and nearly one-third have modified, expanded or plan to change their existing policies and systems. There also is a new emphasis on training about implicit bias, with more than half of organizations teaching their employees about racial inclusion and other diversity-related topics.

So what about the progression of a necessary workplace and cultural movement triggers people?

Unsurprisingly, it’s the fakeness behind it. The facade of putting on a good show and doing little real work. In some cases this trigger is catalyzed by the harsh reality of the timely struggle it takes to bring about real change. 

Gender Stereotypes

During our call we talked a lot about industries that associate certain adjectives with masculinity and others with femininity. For example, words that were used to describe women were “caring, nice, etc”, while men were “confident, powerful, etc”. Anyone, regardless of gender, can be caring, kind, confident and powerful. The belief that otherwise is true is based upon years and years of conditioning, that we should work to reverse. 

Tips for How to Avoid Triggered Reactions
  • Don’t bite the bait, after all it’s a hook. 
  • Practice behaving with a high level of emotional intelligence
    • Let people know how their words made you feel and allow them permission to clarify what they meant. 
  • Visualize your ego as a physical object and place it elsewhere.
    •  This will allow you time to process, reframe, and then react. 

 Just like being asked about your pet peeves, start to consider how you would respond when asked about what gets you ticking. If we can be aware of our trigger points, we will be able to begin dissociating ourselves with them, and stay focused instead of losing our cool. 

If you would like to discuss triggers in your life and come up with an action plan for the next time we face them, please reach out to me.