43: Leaders With Heart Lead With Compassion


In this episode, Heather speaks with longtime friend and human resources practitioner, D’Anthony Tillery, about leading with heart, evolving as a leader, and what it takes to lead with compassion.

Key Takeaways:

  • Leadership is about always learning.
  • Even though we want to empower and trust our people, we need to provide enough guidance that helps them make good decisions.
  • We don’t have to be friends with our employees, but we must know what motivates them outside of work.
  • Leading can be from a place of compassion and understanding.
  • Leaders must rule from the heart.


Heather is thrilled to share her passion with someone who has higher emotional intelligence, can relate well with people, and can understand the importance of organizational growth and development. This is a juicy episode with great stories of leadership trials and success.

D’Anthony Tillery’s Full BIO

With over 20 years of experience in HR and recruiting, D’Anthony’s expertise in human resources is strongly backed up by his leadership roles. He is Vice President for Talent Acquisition and Deployment at Acosta Sales and Marketing.

Prior to that, he has a demonstrated history of working in the consumer goods industry. He was a Senior Director for Global Talent Acquisition, Diversity and Inclusion at Whirlpool. He is skilled in Metrics, HR Consulting, Talent Management, Executive Search, and Technical Recruiting. D’Anthony carries his strong business professionalism with an MA focused in Organizational Management.

The Best Out of People

D’Anthony is passionate in bringing the best out of his people and seeing them successful. 

Early in my career, all was ruled by an iron fist. It was all policies and procedures. Before I really started diving into the servant leadership style, it was less understanding. 

You’re not always prepared adequately to deal with all of the gray. But your experience builds up wisdom over the years. You learn to how effectively get the best out of people. Ruling with an iron fist, so to speak, is not the way to get the best out of them. 

Everybody is motivated by different things. But at the core, everybody wants to be successful. Everyone wants to be acknowledged. Everybody wants to be a part of the team. 


Those are the things that are consistent when you think about being a leader, and getting people to that point where they’re motivated to essentially impact the organization in a very positive way. 

And so, I made the time to invest in my employees to truly make sure that they have understood the flexibility and the opportunity through the roles they have, and the decisions they can make. Also, I engage with them through projects, so that I can truly understand how I can influence them and how I can guide them to make the right decisions. 

Ultimately, I ended up being the final sign-off, and I’m confident that they have thought through the solutions. You have to really give the employees the right level of support and freedom to make the right decisions. But you also have to give them the guide rails to ensure that they understand. Given that power, they also have an opportunity to engage with you, ensuring you that they are pointing towards the right direction. 

The biggest disconnect for employees is that they don't understand how their role really impacts the success of the team. #leadershipwithheart Share on X Ruling with an iron fist, so to speak, is not the way to get the best out of people. #leadershipwithheart Share on X

Building Human Capital

Talent acquisition is just one arm of human resources. In most organizations, it is probably the most important aspect of the HR function.

It’s all about how we engage with the people before they even consider us. It is about what our employee value propositions are, how we brand ourselves in the community where we are trying to attract talents, and what experience we want people to have when they are applying or being interviewed for the job.

It’s the most important part of the employee life cycle. It starts with talent acquisition. And it progresses through the on boarding, the development, the training, and the learning, all the way to succession planning and promoting the person to their next roles. If we’ve done our job right, we’ve identified somebody that can be successful, not only today for the job that they’re in.

Our job is to build human capital for organizations. When you’re trying to find talents, try to look at them at a broader scope, so that you’re not just trying to find talents for today’s jobs. You’re thinking about the other skill set this individual will have, which can leverage the organization in other areas. You’ve got to think broadly about it. It’s the most important function or any organization where human capital is an important aspect of the organization’s success.  

Lunch and Learn

One of the thing that I’ve learned over time, as a leader, is that I don’t have to necessarily be my employees’ best friends, but I do need to understand their lives. I need to understand what motivates them inside and outside of work. If I have people on my team, I try to take team members out to lunch so that I can listen to them in an environment where they feel safe. I make sure that people from every level of the pyramid feel like they’re being heard. Their ideas are not just being pushed aside.


As a leader, you have to help your people by setting guide rails-- how they are going to do things, how they are going to operate, and how they are going to work with you. #leadershipwithheart Share on X

The other thing that I do is engage with them weekly, or through bi-weekly calls or meetings. It could be a fifteen minute call, topped up. One of the most fascinating things is that when an employee comes to you, shares something, then you give them some advice. It could be just life advice. It could just be a listening ear.

Then, that person comes back to you later on, and says, “Look. You know, I was having a rough day, but you sat down, and you actually took time out of your busy day to listen to my issues and my challenges. I certainly appreciate it and I just want to let you know how important that is.”

When you have people come to you and tell you things like that, you know that something has touched their hearts about how you lead, and how you engage with them. Those are types of people who have passionate approach about working with you, and will do their very best for you.

People make mistakes. That's why we have to be very cautious and discerning in order to help them. #leadershipwithheart Share on X
Part of the job of being a leader is listening. It's not just listening to my bosses, but also listening to people who work for me and under me. #leadershipwithheart Share on X  


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Leadership With Heart With Heather R Younger

“Heather’s courage and vulnerability to share her authentic self are truly inspiring. She shares the most cutting-edge leadership strategies on topics like emotional intelligence and employee experience. If you’re looking to sharpen your leadership skills, this podcast is for you.”

Heather is a Workplace Culture Expert


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