184: Leaders with Heart Meet People Where They Are

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In this episode, Heather speaks directly to her listeners about meeting people where they’re at. Of course, this can mean different things depending on different people, but it’s essential to understand what matters to each person so that communication is most effective. Simply put, the way you approach your accountant and the way you approach a videographer are different because they speak different languages. Keep in mind that some people are more visual, and numbers drive others, but you must understand your people’s language. 

 

Lastly, if you’re looking for a place to understand different communication styles and a place for all leadership questions, the Caring Leadership Community is a great place to start. You can join here!

 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Leadership differs from person to person
  • Understanding what drives your people will lead to greater productivity
  • Meeting people where they are at is crucial in communicating effectively
  • Being a leader does not have to do with your title
184: Leaders with Heart Meet People Where They Are Click To Tweet

Heather R. Younger is an experienced keynote speaker, two-time author, and the CEO and Founder of Employee Fanatix, a leading employee engagement, leadership development, and DEI consulting firm, where she is on a mission to help leaders understand the power they possess to ensure people feel valued at work. 

Known as The Employee WhispererTM, Heather harnesses humor, warmth, and an instant relatability to engage and uplift audiences and inspire them into action. 

Rooted in her belief that employees aren’t just numbers on the payroll but human beings with ideas that matter, Heather’s talks and workshops are dedicated to helping teams, leaders, and organizations shine by improving how they listen to, communicate with, and empower employees on their journey to Caring Leadership.  

Meet Them Where They’re At

Often, leaders forget that our job is to serve and lead our teams. Not ourselves. In my work, I see that employees are often not asked what success looks like for them. But instead, they are automatically assumed to have the same goals as the organization or those above them. But this isn’t always true. Leaders need to take the time to get to know their people to truly understand what drives them. By knowing what drives them, their language, and their goals, leaders can better serve their teams. Lastly, when employees feel heard, they are happier, more productive, and more loyal to the organization. 

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The Loneliness of Change in an Organization

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A Common Problem

One of the most common questions I get asked usually goes like this: “What do I do if I want to be a catalyst for change, but no one else is receptive?” I can’t tell you how often this comes up. I don’t know about you, but this makes me think of that saying, “If you want to change the world, you have to begin with yourself.” That’s the kind of saying they have painted on a classroom wall, but that saying has truth to it. And anyone who has tried to be the change within their organization has felt this. 

It’s a struggle. It can be so demotivating to reimagine a new workplace, but no one wants to reimagine with you. Or even more so, to make personal changes to achieve that new workplace and have them all fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. Change is hard. It’s even harder when no one notices. Change is also incredibly lonely at the beginning. So why make a difference at all then, many people wonder. 

The Solution

Here is my response to this unfortunate and all too common occurrence. I hear you, and that’s hard. You’re trying, and people aren’t giving anything back. It feels like you are swimming against the strongest of currents again and again. I understand. I’ve even been there before. In fact, most people who have ever gone about promoting greater change have stood exactly where you are standing right now. 

Remember the Point

What you need to focus on in the moments where you feel like defeat is much closer than success is the purpose behind your actions. Are you making these personal changes in your behavior or leadership style for yourself or others? If you go out determined to be kind and show care to everyone and receive callous responses, it is disheartening, but it’s not defeat. That’s not the purpose. The point is that you are changing and evolving, and the only thing you can control when changing is yourself. Maybe the effects will spill over, and kindness will trickle (and usually it does), but that is not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to be the best version of yourself that you can be regardless of your surroundings, environment, culture, etc. 

Where Does Responsibility Fall?

It’s a tale as old as time once you think about this on a broader scale. Being a catalyst for change within your organization is an immense burden. But, you are not responsible for the actions or inactions of your coworkers. The culture does not belong solely to you. If you are doing your due diligence to reflect the change you hope to see on a personal level, then you should not let guilt or discouragement seep in. 

It takes an incredible amount of willpower to make personal changes. Be proud of the accomplishments you have achieved and put failure out of your mind. That sort of negative energy will taint the positive changes you have worked so hard to manifest in your daily life. 

Although you may feel alone in your endeavors and pursuits, I can promise you that you are not alone. Come join the Caring Leadership Community to see just how many people are standing in your shoes.

183: Leaders with Heart can Transform Industries

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In this episode, Heather interviews Dr. Karaneh Jahan, who received her baccalaureate degree in Public Health with a minor in Spanish from Portland State University. She later attended Oregon Health and Science University where she obtained her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. Dr. Kararen Janah worked at seven different dental practices in the span of two years in the search for a non-toxic work environment. After two years of working in negative work environments, she finally decided to open up her own practice. Dr. Jahan is also a certified Holistic Health and Lifestyle coach, helping her clients achieve their healthy mind and body goals, and ultimately to lead happier lives.
 

Key Takeaways:

  • You can change the way things are done. 
  • Dentists usually have a negative connotation but Dr. Jahan wants to change that. 
  • Learning how to delegate early will lead to success. 
  • Creating familial bonds with your employees and teams makes work more enjoyable. 
  • Dr. Jahan is working to create non-toxic medical work environments. 

Dr. Jahan was born in Atlanta, GA, but grew up in various states and countries. She comes from an artistic Persian family of six, and enjoys spending time with family exploring culturally diverse cuisines, traveling and exploring nature of the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Jahan is also an avid horseback rider, violinist, artist, animal lover, and bird whisperer (she has a pet bird named Tutu).

Dr. Karaneh Jahan received her baccalaureate degree in Public Health with a minor in Spanish from Portland State University. She later attended Oregon Health and Science University where she obtained her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. Most recently achieved certification in Botox administration and Dermal filler implantation, in addition to completion of vigorous training for the placement of Dental Implants to better serve her patients. Dr. Jahan is also a certified Holistic Health and Lifestyle coach, helping her clients achieve their healthy mind and body goals, and ultimately to lead happier lives. 

I see them as a whole person, and not just staff members that come and do the job and take a paycheck home. It's it's truly a holistic approach to the whole business. – Dr. Karaneh Jahan #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Toxic Work Environments

After graduating I worked at seven different practices in the span of two years because of toxic work environments. I wasn’t happy at any practice and I would come home and complain about how awful it was to my parents. After two years of it, my dad convinced me to open up my own practice. And I’m so glad I did! It was hard at first, but I’ve learned a lot along the way. For me, the most important thing is to have a practice that isn’t toxic. I think we have a very close, almost familial, bond here and that’s something I am so proud of. I know my team is happy to come to work and that this is more than just a paycheck to them. That was always my goal and I’m so glad the hard work has resulted in what I was striving for.

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ASK HEATHER: We’re currently struggling to get new employees, what do you recommend we do? 

Covid really gave people the time to sit back and think about what they really wanted to do with their lives. Many people changed careers and that’s partly why we’re seeing a decrease in candidates. But for you in particular, I would say that you need to highlight what makes you different in your job postings. You have a holistic, non-toxic approach to the way you do things at your practice and that’s what sets you apart from the rest. Highlight that in your job postings and online presence by storytelling so that possible candidates can see the whole picture. 

Dentistry isn't a profession that is liked by the general public, and that is one of the main reasons why I wanted to go into the dental field, I wanted to change that. – Dr. Karaneh Jahan #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet
 
 

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Leadership Lessons I Learned from my Four Children

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Dedicated to my Children

Someone recently approached me and pointed out that the two books I have written have been dedicated to my children, not my spouse, not my mother. For me, this was common sense. My children have taught me more than anyone else has about leadership. They are the foundation of my leadership journey, and they are my daily inspiration. 

Teamwork: A Canoe Lesson

The first example I want to share is one I actually share in Chapter 4 of my book, The Art of Caring Leadership.

My second oldest son is incredibly independent. He is a self-starter and chases down his personal goals with great success. But, he isn’t fond of depending on other people to help him achieve his goals. This individuality became an issue when he went on a canoe trip with my husband. The idea of having to work with someone else, even his father, was enough to make him nervous. He began to be doubtful of their success. 

Through discussing this experience with my son, we both gleaned that while “people do innovate by themselves, but great innovations come from cross-functional collaborations and teamwork” (62). At the same time, it cemented a deeper lesson about teamwork:

You have to put yourself in the shoes of others, and you have to be OK with them not being perfect. You have to move forward when the waves are pulling against you. You have to work with the other person in the canoe (62).

Empowerment: A College Debut

This week is very sentimental for me as I drop my first child and only daughter off at college. As one might do in this situation, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on her preparation. I realized just how much of that preparation I was responsible for. 

It’s hard to watch as I let her go to spread her wings. But it has also taught me a great leadership lesson in empowerment. Every moment of my daughter’s life, whether we realized it or not, my husband and I have been setting her up for life as an adult. We have been empowering her to take the reins when the time comes. Yes, I am emotional that the time has come! But it is an incredibly beautiful thing to witness. I can trust that she will do what’s right for her. And I can’t wait for the next lesson in leadership. The one where I learn from her, as she’s excelling and succeeding in college because of her empowerment. 

Empathy: Being there for my son

Another leadership lesson I learned from one of my sons has to do with leading the whole person. I had to recognize that my son is different from myself and individual in the way he needs to communicate. 

It took time, but I finally realized that to get him to open up to me. First, I had to meet him where he was. Plus, I had to be prepared to empathize and listen and be present. Before, I could not understand what my son was feeling and experiencing without choosing to be present with him and empathize. But then, finally, after he grew comfortable and realized that I was not there to control or force a connection, he opened up to me, and we had a conversation. 

Altered Perspective: Seek Beauty

The final lesson in leadership I want to address today was taught to me by my youngest son. It was a simple and brief moment, but it impacted the way I view the world. 

I’m an incredibly occupied person. I zoom in between family life and many work commitments every day. Constantly going to the next appointment, I tend to focus my gaze and energy directly ahead. 

One day I was driving my youngest son to practice, and he was able to break my focus on my schedule and to-do list and forced me to look up at the sky and observe a rainbow. As I rested my eyes on the spectacle of a natural miracle, I remembered to widen my perspective. When we focus so singularly on what is directly in front of us, we will miss many beautiful moments life offers us. Beauty is an incredible source of creativity. My son helped me be a more well-rounded leader and a more creative one by reminding me to stop and smell the roses that day. 

A Thank You to my Children

These are just four specific moments I am grateful to my children for as they have better formed me as a caring leader. Of course, there are countless other examples. But if these can help even a few people reflect on their leadership behaviors or perhaps help them glean lessons from their children, then again, I owe gratitude to my children.

182: Leaders with Heart Take Action

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In this episode, Heather interviews Asif Sadiq MBE, Head of Equity and Inclusion at WarnerMedia International. Before working at WarnerMedia, Asif has worked at numerous industry-leading companies such as Adidas, Reebok, and The Telegraph. He is also an author, LinkedIn Influencer, Board Member, and TEDx Speaker. His home country is Kenya, but he studied at university in London and currently lives there. He credits his first experience with leadership to his university years when he realized that he and his international classmates were deprived of a voice and decided to take action. 
 

Key Takeaways:

  • Being your authentic self leads to greater results. 
  • People don’t need a perfect leader, they need a human leader.
  • Everyone needs a voice. 
  • Be a voice for those who don’t have one. 
  • Vulnerability builds relationships. 
  • No leader knows it all, and that’s okay. 

Asif is the Senior Vice President at WarnerMedia for Equity and Inclusion, International, he was previously the Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at adidas and has a long and rich career in the diversity and inclusion space with senior executive roles at The Telegraph Media Group, EY Financial Services and the City of London Police. He is a board member for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and a member of the board of advisors for Hedley May. Over his 20-year career he has worked in Europe, North America, South America, Middle East, Africa and Asia.  

  

Asif has been credited with impactful global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion activities and programs across organizations, that have created a strong sense of belonging for all and resulted in truly diverse workplaces. He has been key in building synergies between internal and external D&I efforts within organizations, ensuring diversity and inclusion is embedded in all elements of a business, resulting in innovative, creative and inclusive products and services.   

  

He is a Multi-Award Winning Diversity and Inclusion expert with a proven track record in D&I, Sustainability and Social Impact, being listed as one of the most influential Global D&I Leaders by Hive Learning, the CIPD’s Top 20 Power list and a LinkedIn Influencer. He is winner of numerous awards including the highly commended Head of Diversity Award at the European Diversity Awards and was honoured with an MBE in 2017 by the Queen and granted the freedom of the City of London in 2016. 

Companies recognize you for who you are not for how well you can adapt to their organization. – Asif Sadiq #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Be Authentic

In college and in all the leadership courses that we’ve been taught it’s always been about being a strong leader who knew all the answers. Honestly, that just doesn’t work anymore. It’s not what people want or need. I don’t think it’s what anyone has ever wanted or needed. This is something I’m focusing more on myself. Really being authentic and my whole self at work has been so much more rewarding because people can really appreciate me for who I am. At the end of the day, a company or organization hires you because of what you can contribute to their goals – so be you. 

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My “Why” for Leadership

I grew up in Kenya and then later on went to university in the U.K. where I quickly realized that the international students were basically ignored. We had no voice. It wasn’t just students from Kenya either, it was from all over Africa and the whole world. The university was happy to take our money but our concerns weren’t heard. So I decided to change that and since then have worked in the DEI space. I think a lot of people’s “why” in leadership comes from situations like mine, where I felt that we had no voice and wanted to create one. It’s something we need to continue to work on because there are still so many voices that aren’t heard. 

The environments in your head that create doubt need to be challenged. – Asif Sadiq #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet
 

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A Lesson in Legacy for Leaders and Princesses

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A Princess Diaries Moment

I was recently on a plane and had the opportunity to watch a movie. I chose The Princess Diaries. A classic rom-com, traditional royalty meets the average teenager. In one of the earlier scenes in the movie, the main character, Mia Thermopolis, and her best friend, Lilly Moskovitz, are chatting in gym class. legacy

Mia says to Lilly, “What’s so cool about being a princess?” to which Lilly responds, “It’s having the power to affect change. What teenager do you know with the power to do that?”

This little exchange struck me. I thought, “Wow, they are hitting at something profound here.” 

I think, in many ways, being a leader is simply having the power to affect change. Anyone who can influence another human has that kind of power. 

A Reflection on Power

I encourage everyone reading this to take a step back and ponder how you have affected change recently. What changes have you been the catalyst of? Have you played a role in organizational change or changes that only affect you? Have you participated in a change in your family, friends circle, or your personal life? Or have you caused positive change for a peer or a stranger?

All the different ways we can affect change define our legacy. I think of legacy as the trail of positive influence that we leave behind or all the positive changes we bring about that affect those that come after us. 

So I urge you to think about how far your legacy extends. It is far too easy to get caught up in our own lives, needs, wants, goals, and become self-centered. But, the measure of our greatness and success isn’t measured in the changes in our own lives. Alternatively, it’s exactly what Lilly said in The Princess Diaries. It’s how we affect change for others. 

Leaders and their Circle of Influence

Think about examples of great leaders. Abraham Lincoln helped bring about the end of slavery. Harriet Tubman helped others escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Simone Biles took a stance supporting mental health, fighting the stigma that still exists around the topic. 

A huge part of being a Caring Leader is self-leadership. I wrote about that last week, and I write on it often, but the end goal of self-leadership is still oriented outwards. It is caring for yourself to better care for others. Because the end goal of Caring Leadership is affecting positive change for others. 

How Can We Do This?

Today, I challenge you to think outside the box a little more. Include more. Consider going the extra step in helping someone else achieve their goals. Have an intentional conversation with someone you don’t know as well. Do a random act of kindness or two. Be a voice for the voiceless. Try advocating for the less fortunate. These acts, whether big or small, are the stones that build a strong legacy. 

The best Caring Leaders are selfless. So how can you be selfless today?

181: Leaders with Heart Reflect on Their Journey

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Journey

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As Heather approaches her 50th birthday and looks back at her journey, she shares her reflections with her listeners. She reflects on her decisions, especially after COVID, and how they have led her to where she is today. In her own words, she now feels more in line with her journey than ever before. She regards the Caring Leadership Ecosystem (the book, the community, and the academy) as one of her greatest accomplishments because they are creating the impact she has always envisioned. Are you part of the community yet? 
 
If not you can join here!
 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Leadership with Heart began in Heather’s childhood
  • You can pave your own path
  • The journey of Caring Leadership never ends
  • Being a leader does not have to do with your title
  • Everyone can be a Caring Leader!
We can make all of our relationships richer by leading with care. – Heather R. Younger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Heather R. Younger is an experienced keynote speaker, two-time author, and the CEO and Founder of Employee Fanatix, a leading employee engagement, leadership development, and DEI consulting firm, where she is on a mission to help leaders understand the power they possess to ensure people feel valued at work. 

Known as The Employee WhispererTM, Heather harnesses humor, warmth, and an instant relatability to engage and uplift audiences and inspire them into action. 

Rooted in her belief that employees aren’t just numbers on the payroll but human beings with ideas that matter, Heather’s talks and workshops are dedicated to helping teams, leaders, and organizations shine by improving how they listen to, communicate with, and empower employees on their journey to Caring Leadership.  

The Caring Leadership Ecosystem

Caring Leadership began with a book but quickly turned into something much more significant than I could have imagined. It quickly evolved into an entire ecosystem. In addition to the book, Caring Leadership comes with a community, an academy, and an assessment. Besides, our latest addition is the community, and it is the most personal way to connect with my readers and listeners about all things leadership. This community has brought what I wrote on the pages of The Art of Caring Leadership to life, and I couldn’t be more excited! Now, all things Caring Leadership can really be put into practice in this community. 

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Simone Biles: An Olympic Champion in Self-Leadership

Simone Biles: Champion or Leader?

If you’ve been following the Olympics at all this past week, then there is no escaping the news surrounding Simone Biles. It all began with a tweet hinting at her struggles with mental health. Simone began the narrative of what would soon become the focus of the world on Sunday, July 25th after the qualifying round, saying:

it wasn’t an easy day or my best but I got through it. I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke! BUT I’m happy my family was able to be with me virtually♡ they mean the world to me!

Unfortunately, things soon got even tougher for Simone. Not long after, Simone withdrew from team finals, the all around competition and the first three event finals. The cause for her withdrawal? Her wellbeing. Her mental health. 

Simone said on social media, “For anyone saying I quit, I didn’t quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync.” She also said, “Physical health is mental health.”

The Mental Health Epidemic

After the last 18 months, we can all agree that mental health is just as widespread as the pandemic, and arguably a deeper rooted issue. You can read more about the mental health epidemic here

There is no doubt in my mind that Simone Biles is a young woman who has faced adversity in many forms. The first being growing up as an African American woman, and I can relate to the challenges that presents. It’s public knowledge that Simone was also a victim of Larry Nassar, while simultaneously a star on the largest virtual stage at the Olympics.

When she said, “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times,” not even a part of me doubts it for a second. 

Now although Simone is renowned as a hero, the best female gymnast in history, and the GOAT (greatest of all time), she is first and foremost a human being. 

A Lesson in Self-Leadership

Simone Biles taught the world a lesson in self-leadership at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and I would like to thank her for that. (So Simone, if you ever read this, thank you, lady!)

I define self-leadership in my latest book, The Art of Caring Leadership:

“Self-leadership is of critical importance for the Caring Leader, in that if she doesn’t lead herself first, she cannot properly care for those she leads. She must understand her purpose and why she leads; be self-aware and understand and adapt to the people around her; have control over her mindset; understand the role of influence; consistently grow her skills; have a coach or mentor; and simply take time to care for her mind, body, and spirit” (13).

An Olympic athlete is a leader, and whether they like it or not, the whole world turns to watch them as true icons. Not all leaders bear a title. Not all leaders choose to become leaders. But, most Caring Leaders do start out as someone choosing to invest in their own self-leadership.

A True Leader

Simone Biles demonstrated true self-leadership in her exemplary self-awareness. She demonstrated a depth of understanding that most people are too afraid to delve into when it comes to self-reflection. 

Simone exhibited resolute control over her mindset and extreme care for her teammates. She understood the role of her influence, but did not let the power of influence interfere with her knowledge of what was truly best for her. She took a powerful stance as she stood up for the wellbeing of her mind, body and spirit while bowing out of the competition. A Caring Leader always takes care of herself first. 

Among the most basic needs of a human being, as proven by science, are safety and security. Just look at Maslow’s hierarchy. Simone Biles has proven her prowess as a leader not only in the sport of gymnastics but among the ranks of mankind as she took great care to maintain her own safety and security while under a huge amount of pressure. 

A True Champion

Her decisions to withdraw from Olympic events and prioritize her mental and physical health display that she is just as much a leader off the podium as she is on it. And she is just as much a champion of her sport as she is a champion for mental health. Mental health is a challenge that nearly every human being will face at some point in their life, and that’s infinitely more people than in the world of gymnastics. So thank you again Simone Biles, you are one heck of a Caring Leader and you truly are our champion.