21: Leaders with Heart Give Themselves the Grace of Imperfection

Today on the podcast we have Christinne Johnson, President of HR at First Bank. In this episode, Christinne shares a lot about her leadership style, what drives her to be a leader, and when she was not the greatest leader.

We also talk about

  • What drives her to be excited about vision and strategy,
  • What propelled her to become the leader that she is now,
  • Times when she wasn’t the best version of herself
  • Self-evaluation, and giving yourself grace.

I very much enjoyed my conversation with Christinne, and I hope you do too. Enjoy.

“I Always Grew up Wanting to Be Good”

I always grew up just wanting to be good – be good at what I was doing, work really hard at developing myself so I could be better at what I was doing. There was just this value system ingrained in me as I was growing up:

“Be the best you can, do the best you can, and show up as the best version of yourself.”

I think what naturally happened was I would see situations and see the opportunity in a situation and I would just jump into the front of that situation because I wanted to naturally take on a leadership role or be the person who says, “Hey, you guys, let’s get going. I’m really excited about this.”

I have a lot of enthusiasm about pretty much anything I approach, I feel like.

And so that energy has always been there as well, and that was just really instilled in me at a very, very young age. That’s where I think it comes from – just that desire to not only be the best and continue to look for opportunities to be better, but to envision what’s possible.

Leadership Isn’t Always Perfect

Leadership isn’t about perfection. Christinne shares one instance when she wasn’t her best self, and it was when she was working on implementing on a new function for their organization.

My team and I had spent some time really crafting a recommendation for how we were going to go forward with a portion of this big implementation. It was a project management office that we were establishing, and it was new for our organization, so it was a big, big change.

A little bit of reluctance, of course, in some areas that were implementing something like this. My team and I had worked really hard on this set of recommendations, and I go into the meeting with the leadership that I’m presenting these recommendations to and it’s not going well.

It’s not being received in the way that I thought it would be received and I’m of course super proud and excited about what we’re recommending and there’s sort of a resistance, some reluctance, some criticism that’s coming out.

Instead of being able to sit back and take that feedback and process it and say, “Okay, I’m going to take this and figure out how to be better with this criticism that I’m getting,” which is what I typically very much try to do, I was not my best self.

I was so attached to the solution, the recommendation, the proposal and the way I was bringing it that I got emotional, and I got triggered, and I got upset in the situation and didn’t respond with my best self.

I even had a colleague in the room who I had said, “Hey, if I start going off-course and you see me going off-course, can you give me a hand signal?” because I know I’m attached to this one and I know I’m going to need some help.

He was giving me the hand signal and I decided to just stop looking at him. It was almost like, “You know what, I am upset, and I have to let it out.”

Even my attempts to manage myself in the situation didn’t work. I remember getting to a point in the meeting where I just said, “I think we need to stop this meeting because this isn’t going well, I’m not responding well. I think we need to end it.”

I’m a pretty open and transparent leader, but you have to be careful with how open and transparent you get, especially with your team members. #leadershipwithheart Share on X Passion is good, and can also be your Achille’s heel if you take it too far. #leadershipwithheart Share on X There are times on a journey where you end up on a detour, or you backtrack a little bit – that’s OK. Share on X Sometimes you get lost, sometimes you go off-track, sometimes you detour, sometimes you backtrack. Have a little grace for yourself. Get yourself back on track and figure out what you want to do going forward. Share on X At the end of the day, you want to keep pushing forward. #leadershipwithheart #leadership #motivation Share on X

Be Kind To Yourself

Have grace for yourself. Have compassion for yourself. #leadership Share on X

I think this is a human condition, but we as individuals, especially those who are in leadership – because they’re high achievers, high performers, striving forward – we have a tendency to want to be perfect all the time, be perceived as being perfect, and will give grace to others, but we will have a hard time giving grace to ourselves.

“I think when you can give grace to yourself and when your people can see that you give grace to yourself, then they know it’s okay to give grace to themselves. You’re sort of modeling that behavior. I think that’s really important, because this is hard stuff. “

Being in leadership is being challenging because self-awareness is so important and your own self-development and who you are as a person gets so exposed. If you don’t have that grace and you aren’t able to exhibit that grace, I think it manifests itself in stress and maybe some anxiety and stuff like that.


Connect with Christinne on LinkedIn

Email: christinne.johnson@efirstbank.com

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