26: Leaders with Heart Know That They Must Lead the Whole Person

Today on the podcast we have Denise Testori, President of Prestige Cleaners. We talk about her unique management style, and a time when she was not the best leader she could be.

Denise considers herself as a servant leader as a part of a family-owned organization. She acknowledges that the size of the company she leads allow her to learn more about and spend more time with the people who show up to work everyday. Some key takeaways from this podcast are:

  • How to humanize the workplace and build relationships with your team
  • Get outside feedback and help to grow yourself, your team and the organization
  • Invest in your team to grow them and keep them with the organization longer. Do what is required to make sure they don’t leave.
  • Maintain flexibility, stability and empathy with your employees and customers.

Golden nugget: Showing your team members that you want to know them as people and not just as a number on a payroll list, helps them to feel important and valued. Then, they turnaround and do it for your customers!

Don’t miss out on this warm discussion.

Aaron Skogen’s Full BIO

I am a senior executive who drives Continuous Process Improvement and Lean methodology at facilities that produce consumer packaged goods and durable goods.

I improved operational effectiveness at one facility by reducing DPMO to 60% and downtime 80%, while increasing productivity 15%, as well as increasing production by 41% during peak periods within one year for Toro’s Consumer Z products. Additionally, I led the Total Predictive Maintenance (TPM) roll-out at Schwan, establishing a baseline TPM program for Continuous Process Improvement in global supply chain facilities.

Facility management is a core competency; when I managed Birds Eye Foods Minnesota facility, I expanded processing from 14,500 acres for corn and 7500 acres for peas to 25K and 15K, respectively, within a 4-year period. The success of this expansion won me personal recognition by Refrigerated & Frozen Foods as “The Frozen Food Processer of the Year.” I was also tapped to serve on executive team for $350M start-up of Sysco’s VA regional distribution center

Volunteerism is also an important means by which I initiate positive change within my community, leveraging my core competencies on behalf of organizations whose mission align with my values.

Faith and Family

For as long as I can remember, my foundation has been my faith and family. I come from a very large family, my parents worked hard, and they set that example and never complained.

I look back as an adult, and I remember from the wee hours of the morning, both my parents – my mom was a stay-at-home parent, and with six kids, she had her hands full, plus just being there for her aging parents and my dad’s aging parents.

And then my dad would leave to go to work and would come home sometimes to just have a bite to eat, and then he would go to the neighbors because their plumbing was having a problem.


My dad was one of those people – jacks of all trades. If he didn’t know something, he read, and he literally tried.

Seeing that as an example, and of course my faith – my parents really instilled in each one of us to be the very best version that we could be – that pretty much sums up my foundation of where I am and why I am today.… Click To Tweet

Denise’s Leadership Style

I think at this time, a servant leader.

I believe that being a family-owned business that has 64 employees, I get to be more among the crew than perhaps a big Fortune 500 company or something like that.

I am able to interact not only with my management team but with each individual, and help them meet their goals.

Maybe they’re struggling with something, or they’re proud of themselves after trying to reach a goal and they do. As minor as some big corporate leader might think, it’s very impressionable when you write a thank you note to that particular employee and say,

“I’m really proud of you. I know you worked really hard and this was a big goal of yours, and here you are.”

And then we do some celebratory gift card, or something that we know would resonate with that person/individual.

Reconnecting With Your Team

What I like to do is just carve out time for myself and take the opportunity to write down why am I feeling that things aren’t meshing, that people aren’t connecting, or just moving a little bit away vs coming together?

I’ll align those points that I feel that are just not in alignment with the team. I then present them to the team, and then I get their feedback because they may have other points that I hadn’t thought about, or from their vantage point, they have things that they’re concerned about.

Whatever the case may be, we make it a point to meet our management team on a monthly basis. Then the management team shares that with their supervisors and the rest of their team.

You have to have stability – be able to know that people can reach out and you’ll be there, and be able to serve them. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet Have the empathy. There’s so many challenges around that people have outside of their professional life that they need the support and be able to know that you’re there and feel what they’re going through and help encourage them to… Click To Tweet Your team is going to appreciate you so much more when you show that they aren’t just a number on some kind of payroll list, that they’re people, and that you care about them holistically #leaderswithheart Click To Tweet When you take your employees holistically as whole people, and receive them that way, they will do the same for your customers. #leaderswithheart Click To Tweet



Connect with Denise on LinkedIn

Email Denise at denisetestori@gmail.com

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Listen to the podcast on Spotify

2 thoughts on “26: Leaders with Heart Know That They Must Lead the Whole Person”

  1. Thank you for sharing. I was telling my supervisor last week how thankful I am for her sincere efforts of showing empathy for me as a whole and not just as a Resource Specialist. It truly makes a difference when you work with someone that values you and not what you can do for the organization.


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Leadership With Heart With Heather R Younger

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