Spotting the Signs of Employee Burnout

Chances are that if you hold a leadership position, you’ve seen your team members weather incredible highs and disappointing lows throughout your time together. However, when those emotional valleys seem to last longer than usual, you may be witnessing employee burnout.

What is employee burnout? Burnout was first coined by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s, and refers to a physical and mental state of cumulative stress caused by severe exhaustion. Employee burnout happens when an employee assumes too many responsibilities, which can lead to impaired concentration and emotional breakdowns.

What does burnout look like in the day-to-day operations of a company? An employee may be suffering from burnout if you notice they’re particularly lethargic, irritable, or unable to focus. They might call out sick with greater frequency, express a sense of hopelessness or cynicism towards their career, or isolate themselves from friends and colleagues. Often, the tendency is to frame burnout as a personal problem, like poor time management. In today’s fast paced work environment, burnout may even be seen as a necessary part of being productive, and as something that should just be worked through. But employee burnout can in fact be prevented from a management perspective.

How can you prevent burnout? For starters, conduct regular check-ins with your employees to assess how they’re managing their workload. Though it’s tempting to throw several projects at our best talent, multitasking can exhaust employees and in fact take away from their overall productivity. Managers should focus on fewer, more critical activities, and stress the value of project prioritization to their team members.

In that same vein, express to your employees a sense of flexibility around deadlines. Rigid timeframes—though a great structure to work within—usually exert more negative pressure on employees than positive. This isn’t to say you should get rid of deadlines completely, but you should work collaboratively with your team to establish mutually accepted deadlines that allow them to perform at their highest level.

As a caring leader, you also have the power of setting norms that others look up to. Leverage that responsibility to normalize self-care. Discuss with your team how you relaxed over the weekend or what personal hobbies you partake in. If your employees can see that their manager values personal time, they’ll feel comfortable taking time to replenish their own energy levels.

Why is addressing burnout critical? Beyond the general wellbeing of your employees, burnout poses serious business threats, as well. A recent study determined that workplace stress causes additional expenditures of anywhere from $125 to $190 billion dollars a year in various healthcare costs and paid leave. Moreover, burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be seeking a different job. In this sense, addressing burnout effectively safeguards your company’s future talent and future success.

If you neglect to address the root causes of employee burnout in your organization, you won’t have a workplace that empowers employees to perform at their best. As a caring leader, it’s your job to support your employees so they can best support you in return. That includes reading in between the lines for signs they feel overwhelmed, and stepping in when they don’t realize they need help. If we look out for one another and acknowledge that duty as an essential step in the collaborative process, there’s no telling where our collective potential will take us.

139: Leaders with Heart Start with Caring for Themselves

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Mario Harding, Associate Chief Operating Officer at Denver Health, about the origins of his leadership style, leading him to success as a humble leader. Mario relays a story when he was not present for his team during a time when they needed him. He sheds light on important qualities of a leader: vulnerability, being present, taking care of yourself first, balance, putting yourself out there for your team, giving yourself grace, and strong support network. 

Heather and Mario also discuss how to reconcile personal drive with true care, as well as the sacrifices necessary in leadership not only to care for others but to care for yourself better as a leader. Delegation can be key to improving yourself, by allowing you to be more present and providing others with opportunities to grow. 
Key Takeaways:
  • Don’t let your circumstances define what you can do. 
  • Take care of yourself and balance priority projects. 
  • As a leader, always be present especially during tough times. 
  • Be a vulnerable leader and put yourself out there. 
  • Being a leader means giving yourself grace. 
  • Ask yourself as a leader, “What can I let go?”
  • Delegation can be seen as giving a gift to someone else. 
  • Hear from other leaders; let their stories lift you out of self-doubt. 
What an insightful episode! Hope you don’t miss this!

Mario Harding currently serves as the Associate Chief Operating Officer at Denver Health.

Mario has over 20 years of healthcare leadership and management experience in non-profit academic and public health care systems. He attained administrative and operational skills in hospital and clinic operations management emphasizing patient care, education and research. 

Mario continues to grow and augment leadership and managerial skills to reach career goal of President/CEO of hospital or health system. He earned his degree in Zoology at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and his Masters in Healthcare Administration at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine.

Seeing Both Sides

My leadership journey continues to evolve and grow. I’ve been in the healthcare industry for over 20 plus years now. I have worked at various organizations and hospitals that have way more money. 

Then there’s places like Denver Health, whose mission is to serve the underserved, the uninsured, and the very vulnerable patient population. So along with that comes this humility that I’ve been able to see both sides. As a leader I continue to learn and to educate myself from others.


I won't allow my circumstances to define what I could do. – Mario Harding #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Building Support Systems

I’ve had times where I’ve made mistakes or failures, but I don’t let that override what I’ve accomplished. I try to find some balance in making sure of the things that I do and how I contribute in the organization. It’s also critical to be authentic, and at the same time making sure that the things that you’re doing are really valuable to your time as well.

If you are striving for perfection, if that’s what you choose to do, just know that you may not get there. But why put that on yourself? I think it’s extremely and absolutely critically important as a leader that when you find yourself in a place where you make a mistake, learn from it, move on and forgive yourself.

But like I said, learning point. I think the other thing that comes to mind really is also about surrounding yourself with people who support you. Whether it’s professionally or personally, you’re going to need folks to maybe vent, have honest conversations, or have something that’s creating a challenge for you.

It’s absolutely important to help people more to build you up and not tear you down when you need it the most. Again, Support. Surround yourself while there’s enough negativity out. With the pandemic right now, there just is.

If you're not taking care of yourself, it's quite a challenge to think that you can do just as well with someone else. – Mario Harding #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

You have to acknowledge that you can't do it all. – Mario Harding #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Personal and Professional

I don’t know it all as a leader. You have to be in a position to make sure that you rely on to those around you who may have greater experience or knowledge in the subject to help you get to where you need to be. That has helped me in the years as a healthcare lever.

I look for opportunities to find leaders who need to be elevated and taken out of their comfort zone a bit. As I work with my direct reports, I really encourage them to do the same—find someone who has a voice but may need to be given the opportunity to use that voice more so than they have in the past. I am very much about supporting my team, lifting them up and being transparent

I want to do more. I want to do better. I’m blessed, because having people around me to help support my career certainly has put me in a place that has impacted my leadership role. I take that personal side really intersects with my professional journey.

When you have that doubt sitting there, you need perspective to overtake your head and reassure you that it's okay. You can do this. – Mario Harding #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Your integrity and ethics are absolutely critical when you're trying to establish credibility with others. – Mario Harding #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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Picking and Perfecting Your Diverse Leadership Behaviors

Yesterday, my family and I went to the pumpkin patch. We went through a complicated selection process, picking up different pumpkins and testing them for size, weight, shape, color, cleanliness, overall appearance, and more. We debated if this particular pumpkin was too green, or if this one was too round, or if this one was too small—essentially conducting mini focus groups for every imaginable quality.

Of course, we rejected a few gourds in favor of others. Though it may seem like a stretch, I would liken this fall tradition to honing our own leadership behaviors at work. In my new book, The Art of Caring Leadership, I explore nine different behaviors that caring leaders exhibit. I believe a truly caring leader encompasses all nine of these behaviors with aplomb and confidence.

But here’s the thing: we as individuals get to choose how many of those behaviors we exhibit. Sometimes, we call on certain behaviors that suit us in the moment. Other times, we take a different approach, it ends up not working, and we have to pivot and adjust in response. Just as we troubleshot different pumpkins in the patch, a caring leader tries every approach at their disposal when guiding their team.

The process of caring leadership is all about trial and error—experimenting with different approaches until you find the ones that work best for you and your team. So how do we discern which behaviors suit us best?

First, we need to be meeting and engaging with our people often—both as a larger team and one-on-one—in order to find out what they need from us. Though it goes without saying, I’ll say it anyway: the needs of your team members come first. Instead of showing up the same way every day across the board, we should personalize and customize our approach to best address their changing needs and expectations. Each team member is an individual, and should be treated as such. What may seem like too small a pumpkin may be just the right size for someone else, and leadership behaviors are similarly received in different ways based on the person.

Another underutilized tool is organizational surveys. Whether it’s pulse surveys or more sustained, 360-degree feedback, all that information is valuable data we should listen to when trying to determine what areas of improvement need attention and how we can best address them. Instead of randomly trying out different behaviors until one resonates, you can use that energy to intentionally listen to your people’s voices, and architect your leadership approach accordingly. In short: listen first, act second.

The nine behaviors I explore in The Art of Caring Leadership are the arrows in your quiver, the tools in your toolbox, the paint in your palette, and yes, the pumpkins in the patch. Whichever metaphor inspires you most, the message is the same. Picking and choosing different leadership behaviors based on the individual situation is an act of care, and a demonstration of your acuity as a leader. It will take time to become comfortable switching between these behaviors, but that time spent is valuable practice for yourself. So get out there, get practicing, and find the pumpkins that suit you best.

133: Leaders with Heart Provide Hope and Possibility for Those They Lead

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In this episode, Heather joins the show without a guest to talk about the status of her next book, The Art of Caring Leadership, which is based upon this podcast. She also tells her perspective on the death of Chadwick Boseman, a former Marvel star and king of Wakanda, the fictitious country in the Black Panther movie.

Key takeaways:

  • All employees are looking for hope, and they need leaders to help them discover it.
  • There is power in seeing someone who looks like you in the highest positions of leadership.
  • Be flexible in your recruitment and promotion practices to be more inclusive, and to provide the symbols of hope.

Updates on the Book

I did finish writing the Art of Caring Leadership: How Leading with Heart Uplifts Teams and Organizations. 

They’ve sent out my book to three reviewers, which could be very scary. It was really nerve-wrecking. But once I got the first one, I felt that it’s not going to be too bad. They gave some really good feedback that made the book richer, more synced, and easier to read. I hope that you will be proud of how I was able to encapsulate some of the most important voices that you’ve heard here. I am super excited about that.

We have to learn to celebrate our little successes, our big successes—all the same. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Lessons from Chadwick

Just recently, Chadwick Boseman passed away at 43 years old. He died of cancer. If you’d recall, he played the king of Wakanda for Black Panther. He was the first black superhero.  When I saw the news, I felt like I was punched in the chest and the air left out of me.

I didn’t quite think about why until I reflected on some work I’ve been doing on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Looking through survey feedback, we would just keep seeing over and over again their desire to see more people of color in executive leadership roles.

I realized that the reason why people are having such as response about Chadwick’s death is because we saw him as a hero. He was a beacon of light for people who has overcame much and at the same time has represented us.

He got some assistance and good mentorship from other people, and he made it where he was. He did it with grace, even when he was battling with cancer for the last few years.

Inside of organizations, those who are different or considered a minority often don’t feel like they belong. They don’t always feel like they’re part of a purpose that’s bigger than themselves.

When they are able to see people in the highest parts of the organization, they see that there’s so much possibility to become those persons in the role. It’s the possibilities that keeps them having hope and makes them want to stay because they want to see how far they can go as well.

We actually have the ability to achieve. We can do more than what we think we can. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

There are very few limits in front of us. We can place our own limits in front of ourselves with our own mindset. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Celebrating Self-care

We have to learn to celebrate our little and big successes all the same, or else, our life becomes one big blur of tasks. It’s interesting because in the book, I talked a lot about self-care and self -compassion. We need to make sure that we’re doing that more often. I did that for myself during and at the end of this process to celebrate.

If you are someone who leads organization where you have the ability to think outside the box regarding recruitment and your promotion practices, and to diversify the top ranks in your organization, do it.

We’re making sure that people of color and those who are different than the mainstream are going to be at the top roots, because you want to give everybody hope, a desire, a bigger purpose, and to know that they can do and be more.

It's the possibilities that keep your people hope and make them want to stay because they want to see how far they can go as well. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

If you have the power, use the power. Let's not just talk, but let's actually walk on this journey together. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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131: Leaders with Heart Know the Power of Appreciation

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Danny Langloss, City Manager at City of Dixon in Illinois about his leadership style, the importance of showing appreciation for those we lead, a time when he was not the best version of himself, and much more.

Key takeaways:

  • There is a delicate balance, for the leader, on being self-aware and managing emotions.
  • There is a big difference between being very aware of who we are and how we are feeling, than how others are feeling or responding to who we are.
  • We should have robust personal and organizational or team mission to hold on to when things get tough. That is our north star
  • The leadership journey is not simple or easy.
  • We’ve got to show the right amount of care first, before we can focus on productivity and timelines.
Prepare your ears for this insightful episode. Listen and learn!

Danny Langloss currently serves as the City Manager at Dixon, Illinois.

Danny is a leadership speaker and coach specializing in leadership mindset, employee engagement, creating high performing teams, cultures of leadership, organizational excellence, change leadership, and crisis leadership. He is driven to inspire, motivate, and help individuals and organizations reach their full potential.

Danny believes the best way to predict the future is to create it. He is a lifelong student of leadership with more than 13 years of executive leadership experience. Danny is fueled by the value of being committed to excellence and is constantly looking for new, progressive strategies that drive employee engagement, ownership, and excellence.

Over the past 5 years, Danny has served as the keynote speaker for national and state conferences on leadership, substance use disorder, brain health, and protecting children from child predators. 

Great Profession

Honestly, it bothers me not to be in law enforcement. There’s so much change that needs to happen in that great profession.

Before becoming the City Manager, I was getting ready to run for the International Chiefs of Police on four premises: first was leadership, developing leaders, and forefronting meaningful, progressive change. Second was to build meaningful strong relationships with communities of color. The third was substance use disorder and addiction. The fourth was mental illness. I wish I could’ve stayed but I love Dixon. We’re doing great things at Dixon.

There's no destination in our leadership journey. – @DannyLangloss #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Great Commitment

We really try to create a culture that is really consistent with the feeling of getting a family where we hold each other accountable. I talk a lot about a relaxed environment, where the expectations are high and we’re going to perform to a certain level. But in a relaxed and caring environment, it’s all about inclusion, empowerment, growth, opportunity, and innovation.

It’s funny that you get different feedback the farther you move up in an organization. I just had my evaluation a couple weeks ago. I was blown away by a lot of the words and the things that our top team members have said. I would hope that my commitment to doing the things I just talked about would be reflected there.

My team is so amazing. They always rise to the occasion and that has never been more evident than during this whole COVID- 19 situation. When the state of Illinois came out with the downstate small business stabilization grant, the city had to be an applicant and every business had to be a separate application between 80-100 pages.

But our team rose to the occasion and we submitted 54 grants on behalf of our community. That is true dedication, living one’s purpose, and ownership. That is commitment. It was inspiring to be part of that, to see us deliver, and come through for our businesses.

The more you give back, in the end, the more you receive. – @DannyLangloss #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

We're not perfect. When we think we are, we're done. – @DannyLangloss #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Great Passion

I’ve always wanted to be in the position that gives me the ability to make the biggest difference with my current skill set. When I was a police officer, I never said I want to be the police chief. I just always wanted to be in the position that would give me the chance to make the biggest impact. Early on, that was as a patrol officer. Then it was as a detective.

I’m very passionate. One of the things I’m very passionate about is giving a face and a voice to victims of child sexual abuse. I specialized in that for ten years. I worked on these cases, and I was sent to incredible trainings. Also, I helped create our first child advocacy center.

I was very frustrated with the way victims were treated when they came forward. When I became police chief, that wasn’t a destination. That was the beginning. I used my badge as doors to create major community awareness and prevention campaigns, to raise money for our local center, and to help Erin Merryn create Erin’s law, which is the first law in the country that required age appropriate child sexual abuse prevention education in grades Pre-K through 12.

While my passion is one of my greatest strengths, it is also my greatest weakness.  – @DannyLangloss #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Proactive communication is one of the greatest tools of leaders during these times. – @DannyLangloss #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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129: Leaders with Heart Use Employee Feedback to Improve Themselves

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Scott Miller, EVP of Thought Leadership at Franklin Covey about his leadership style, his drive to lead, and his unique view on leadership and self-awareness.

Key takeaways:

  • As leaders, we must be aware of our shortcomings to truly meet our people where they are.
  • Do your people feel safe to tell the truth about you to your face?
  • Great leaders are more concerned with the right thing than being right.
  • Be the leader who is comfortable with your people eclipsing your leadership.
Listen in and take as much wisdom as you can from this leader with heart!

Scott Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as the Executive Vice President of Thought Leadership. 

Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Also, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Release, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal best-seller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team

Previously, Scott worked for the Disney Development Company, and grew up in Central Florida. Scott served under the tutelage of Dr. Stephen R. Covey for close to two decades as a sales producer and sales leader.

He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

Cycling Back

I think I am transitioning out of leading people. It’s been a wonderful journey.

[Leadership] can be unrelenting. It can be unrewarding and it’s not for everyone. Not everyone should be a leader and I’m not sure if I should have been a leader early on. I’ve grown and matured a lot. At this stage of my life, I’m very comfortable saying my leadership journey is coming to completion.

I’m going to cycle back into becoming an individual producer. Right now, I’m leading three boys that my wife and I have brought into this world.

Just because you're in the C-suite does not mean you perfected all of the leadership management strategies. – @scottmillerj1 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Blind Spots

Sometimes, I have extreme courage. I’m too courageous when it comes to calling up people’s blind spots. I don’t let issues linger.  Also, I could use some growth on balancing my courage with my diplomacy or consideration.

It’s your job as a leader to constantly become more self-aware, whether it be through seeking feedback and making it safe for others to tell you their truth about you. I say their truth because sometimes it’s about their ex-boss who sounds like you, or their ex-husband who looks like you. You have to make it safe for others.

What I often do in a conversation is I just ask people what’s it like to work for me, to be in a zoom call with me, to work a trade show booth with me, to go to lunch with me, or to work on a product launch with me. I would  make sure they know that I’m not going to refute, deny, or explain it away. I’m just going to listen and write it down.

Then I would take it a step further. I would show extraordinary levels of vulnerability, and ask them what they think is going on with me when I’m showing those. I’ll ask if I seemed jealous, insecure, unprepared, or threatened. I would roll out some adjectives so that they can share with me what they haven’t felt safe saying before. Occasionally, someone will tell how I react and I become more aware of why I act that way in front of a meeting. It’s insightful.

No one is as self-aware as they think they are. – @scottmillerj1 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Scott’s best talents are two things: taking nothing and turning it into something, and giving my people feedback on their blind spots. – @scottmillerj1 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Leading People

I don’t believe that everyone should be a leader of people. Sometimes it gets confusing that everyone has leadership skills in them. Of course, you lead yourself, or your legacy, or a project. But I don’t think that everyone should be a leader of people. I think, too often, people are lured into being leaders of people.

A study said that the average age when someone is promoted into their first management role is at age 30. But the average age they receive their first leadership development training is at age 42.

Now there’s a whole lot of people wrecking carnage across cultures and organizations because they were not trained to be great leaders. Either they weren’t vetted properly or they weren’t told that this is what leadership looks like.

If your people know that you're willing to grow and learn, they can share insights about your own blind spots with you. – @scottmillerj1 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Effective leadership is not acquainted with charisma or vocabulary. It's confidence, humility, vulnerability, and listening. – @scottmillerj1 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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128: Leaders with Heart Take Time to Recognize Those they Lead

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In this episode,  Heather talks to Adam Hermanson, Founder of Integration Design Group about his drive to lead, the importance of passing on “praise notes” to employees, a time when he was not the best leader he could be, and much more.

Key takeaways:

  • Always go out of the way to praise those you lead and pass those from customers, too.
  • Our economy is built on an exchange of trust, not just dollars and cents.
  • Don’t be afraid to step out of the boat. This helps build more resilience in the long haul even if things don’t go well.
  • Working from home opened a window into the lives of our employees. Take a look in.
  • Working from home also awakens us to the graces of imperfection and humanity.
Tune in to this episode and enrich your mind with life-changing insights!

Adam Hermanson founded Integration Design Group in 2006 to specifically address the design needs of religious, educational, and institutional clients in the non/not-for-profit sectors. IDG offers specific knowledge and uncommon expertise in the design of buildings for worship and liturgy, particularly within the Catholic tradition.

Adam has worked in the field of Architecture since 1995 – serving clients previously in New England, and throughout the Rocky Mountain region.  With a home base in Denver, Adam serves clients as a registered Architect in Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Wyoming, Missouri, Texas, and North Dakota.  Establishing vision and building consensus within client organizations, he leads projects toward successful completion.

From 2004 – 2007 Adam taught graduate-level design studio courses at The University of Colorado School of Architecture. He specializes in sacred architecture, traditional design, liturgical environments, corporate interiors, educational facilities, and master planning. 

Adam graduated from the Catholic University of America School of Architecture and Planning in Washington, DC, and from Harvard University – Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA. A native of Billings, Montana, Adam is happily married for 20 years and a father of six.

Growing A Ton

I’m growing a ton right now. I’m realizing many areas that I need to get better at in order to bring a team of people forward. Most of us would say it’s pretty easy to lead a team when things are successful, like when businesses are coming in or when there’s enough cash to go around. Leadership in times of crisis or difficulty calls forth different skills and demands.

I’m growing a lot right now and I’m being challenged in a lot of new ways. It’s exciting because I love to go through challenges, but it’s not easy.

Let's understand how to go forward in the best, most fruitful way. – Adam Hermanson #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Working, A Blessing

From the outside looking in, as you’re coming up in an organization or developing as a professional, you think the leaders are the ones who get to make the decisions. But, as you sit in that chair, you realize the leaders are the ones who have to make the decision whether they want to or not.

The challenge is really putting everybody’s best interest on the table—understanding what’s best for the team, taking risks by stepping out of the boat, and being able to shoulder the burden of leadership. Sometimes it’s a light burden. Sometimes, it’s a little bit heavier and that’s an interesting thing. It’s an interesting reality that looks different in various angles.

My primary concern is if my people are being blessed by the work that we’re called to do. That’s the beginning and the end of our conversations, like when we do annual performance reviews, check ins, or others. Is the work that we’re doing a blessing to you? Is it blessing your family? It should be, if we’re leading well.

There’s a lot of mundane things within our built environment. Other things are playing ugly and inhumane that challenge being a good person in the world. Our built environment doesn’t always lend itself to encouraging virtue and compassion.

My style is less about being out front as a visionary and more about being with our team in doing the work, and being a guide. – Adam Hermanson #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

There's a desperate need for beauty in the world. – Adam Hermanson #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Knowing and Caring

You’ve probably heard it a million times, but it just hits home in so many ways to me that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. 

In office dynamics people don’t care how much I know about the cash flow and the future success of our firm, if they don’t know that I care about them and their family.

Our clients don’t care how much of an expert we are at the work that we do until they know how much we care about them, the work that they do and their particular mission. 

I just think that sometimes in the professional environment we get trapped into sharing how much we know. People are interested in that, but it’s a low bar. A lot of people know what we know but do they combine that with caring as much as we care?

I make sure that praise gets back to our team because it is bettering the world and it is a blessing to people out there. – Adam Hermanson #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Is the work we're doing, the risks we're taking, and the goals we have in place centered on turning the work into a blessing for our people? – Adam Hermanson #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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121: Leaders with Heart Accept the Truth of Their Leadership

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Kristin Fox, VP of HR at Gyrodata about her leadership style and where her drive to lead comes from. She also shares on the ways she was not the the best version of herself and what strategies she used to show up better.

Key Takeaways:

  • Take time with your people and leave the boss back at the office.
  • Try to establish a deeper connection especially now during a crisis.
  • Help your people through the struggle and model it.
  • Find cheerleaders who believe in you and will help you through rough patches.
  • Value the differences in those around you to help you see things differently.
Have an insightful week by listening to this gem of an episode!

Kristin Fox is a human resources leader passionate about putting the “human” back into HR. She has worked in the HR field for 20 years, currently serving as Vice President of HR for Gyrodata Incorporated. Kristin obtained her Master’s Degree in HR from the University of Texas and is a certified Senior Professional in HR (SPHR).

When Kristin isn’t working, you will find her spending time with her husband, Roger, and six kids or hiding somewhere with a good book to avoid the six kids. 

Founded in 1980, Gyrodata is one of the world’s leading providers of technologies and differentiated services to the energy industry.  Gyrodata’s unique products and services portfolio enables its clients to maximize hydrocarbon recovery and optimize an asset’s lifecycle cost.  With approximately 1,000 employees operating in over 50 countries in virtually every energy market in the world, Gyrodata is uniquely positioned to provide services from a global platform with a focus on technology, service quality, people and clients. the leading supplier worldwide of precision wellbore survey services to the energy, mining, environmental and construction industries

Learning, Empowering

I’m still learning in my leadership journey, and I hope it never stops. I’ve learned so much in my 20-year career working in HR. I’ve made many mistakes and errors along the path that created the leader I am hopefully trying to be today. I’m still trying to observe more, and get better in time. 

My goal is to focus on empowering others, whether that be from example or just lessons learned. I try to value using my influence in areas where I can showcase empathy or stewardship by actions. I make sure that I support them in their endeavors.

You're only as good as your team. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Inner Compass

I hope my people feel supported. I love to challenge them. I love to see how far they’re willing to challenge themselves and how far they can go. I really get the value of working with them as a team, and not have the boss title all of the time. I’m there to support.

When I was 15, my father unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack. He was only 48. I remember watching my mom trying to pick up the pieces, despite dealing with her own grief and watching a confused angry teenager. I realized years later that we probably would not have made it had she not had her own career separate from my father.

I watched my mother’s determination. Her independence just set an example for me to make sure that I always strive for that excellent stride in life. 

I think as a leader it’s those defining moments that become your inner compass to remind you of where you came from and what you’ve endured. I’ve had those reminders when life gets tough. It’s the core of how I want to be as a person and as a leader.

It's vital for leaders today to get feedback and really try not to work independently. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

I am not going to be an expert in everything, even though I want to be. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Embracing Failures

I have failed so many times and have taken wrong turns. I had to eat many pieces of humble pie in my past than I’d like to admit. But, I’ve also learned how to embrace it. 

Embracing your failures is like hugging a cactus. It hurts. But to learn very quickly, I’ve had to hug a lot of cactuses. It’s not fun, but the sooner you embrace it, the sooner you can move on.

I am very fortunate to have a couple of trustworthy and valued peers, who have seen me at my worst and at my best. I know that they’re going to be truthful and supportive. I just call them, and say, “Look what happened. Look what I did. I’m so embarrassed.” It was as if the die was already cast.

I just shut my mouth and listen to what my peers had to say. Did I agree with all of their advice and opinions? No, but the truth doesn’t really care about our opinions, whether it hurts or not.

Find supporters and assured leaders because we need them now more than ever. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Self awareness is so important. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


Connect with Kristin on LinkedIn

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Employee Well-being: Showing That You Care During a Pandemic.

Employee well-being


{Guest post by Cynthia Grant, PhD, MBA, LCSW, Chief Clinical Officer, AllHealth Network}-Leadership with Heart podcast episode #85

Introduction to my employee well-being WHY.

Here’s my truth. I really, genuinely, whole heartedly care about my employees. I am a psychotherapist by training now working as a leader at a behavioral health organization, but that’s not why I care. In my mind, being a leader is about carrying responsibility not only for the organization, but for the people who make up the heart and soul of the business. And right now, many of my people are scared and need me to lead them through uncertain times filled with anxiety. Staff are working in isolation, juggling work and home in ways no one could have predicted would go on for so long, and they’re stressed. Really stressed, which means I need to up my game and do more to help take care of them to keep them healthy— not just physically but mentally strong and resilient.

Supporting employee well-being is not only an ethical obligation for leaders, it’s also a bottom-line issue.  People who feel isolated and lonely, uncertain or afraid have decreased well-being that can interfere with productivity. Stressed out employees may have increased absenteeism, negative interactions with co-workers or may become disengaged from their work. Normal coping mechanisms like spending time with friends, going to the gym or even seeing a good movie aren’t options right now, which makes  people much more susceptible to mental health issues. It’s our responsibility as leaders to try to prevent this from happening.  

Caring for employee well-being/mental health is not just something that happens urgently or in crisis, but needs to continue and be available long into the future. It’s important to have a clear strategy in place to support your staff. Here are a few tips I’ve learned and implemented in supporting the mental health of employees.

  • Check yourself first. Knowing your own stress level and taking care of yourself is a requirement.  When you are in the right space to be able to take a deep breath, be prepared, and be present for another person, you are ready to be a supportive leader.  Find time to decompress, recharge, get some fresh air, and take care of yourself first. The time spent investing in your own well-being will pay you back many times over in employee confidence and faith in you as their leader.

  • Be sure your “door” remains open.  When working remotely, plan purposeful alternative ways to be accessible to your team. Designate time on your calendar for virtual office drop ins.  Hold an optional weekly huddle for staff to ask questions.  Send impromptu emails to ask if there are any questions you can answer. Clearly communicating to staff that you are here for them is a meaningful way for you to watch out for them.   
  • Incorporate wellness check ins into 1:1s. A recent HBR article reported that 40% of people say their organization has not asked them how they are doing since the pandemic began.  A simple question such as “How are things going at home?” or “How have you been coping with all this?” offers an opportunity for a brief conversation.  Listen to what staff are saying.  This personal connection ensures people feel heard and lets them know that you care.  Responses will give you a heads up of trends across teams and may guide you to where you can to take action to offer more support.
  • Build stress reducing activities into the workday. With very little effort you can start meetings with a round robin question that will allow people to laugh and connect (Google “fun icebreaker questions” for ideas). Encourage staff to share memes or quotes with each other. Use screen savers to remind people to get up and stretch. Plan lunch get togethers via Zoom.  
  • Maintain human connections to strengthen mental health. To combat the isolation of working from home or the loneliness of working in an empty office, you’ll need to be proactive in creating spontaneous informal interactions.  Make sure you and everyone on the team uses video for conferences so that you can see each other’s faces. Establish a “water cooler” virtual video conference room that is open all day for drop ins.  Text or use instant messaging to say hi without asking for anything work related. Unexpected chance encounters help offset the busy-ness of the workday and remind people that they are not alone.   
  • Show appreciation. Although this should happen even without a pandemic, it’s a good reminder that showing value and appreciation for another person does wonders for our mental health (both as the giver and receiver of that joy). Take time to jot a quick note to express gratitude and say thanks for something specific. Start a meeting with someone sharing what he or she is grateful for that day. Gather “Wednesday Wins” each week to celebrate accomplishments. A culture of gratitude and appreciation promotes feelings of self-worth and has been found by the Studer Group to increase employee engagement.
  • Lead with empathy. Not everyone is in the same place mentally and emotionally in terms of their coping, anxiety and comfort level working during a pandemic. Be careful not to make assumptions that your staff are dealing with stressors and information in the same way as you. Show grace, compassion and understanding with every touch point— you don’t get as many of them so make sure you are attuned to your staff’s frame of mind with each one.

Keeping an eye on employee well-being  in a purposeful way doesn’t take much time and yet will make a meaningful impact on employees (and for you as a leader).  As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Be the type of leader who’s willing to champion the importance of mental health in the workplace and show staff how much you care. I promise you that watching out for the mental health of your staff will be a key to establishing a resilient organization that can recover and thrive as we slowly establish a new normal.

What other strategies are you using to keep yourself and your staff healthy during this challenging time?

104: Leaders With Heart Cultivate And Invest In Their People

Subscribe to the Leadership with Heart Podcast:

In this episode, Heather Younger speaks with Kimberly Loving, Chief of Staff for the City of Seattle overseeing the HR function with 13,000 employees. Kimberly shares some requirements of leaders to cultivate their employees, the time when she was not the best version of herself as a leader, and really cool learnings from her mother and relatives.

Key takeaways:

  • People matter most, so set everything else aside.
  • Focusing on people is simple, yet not easy. But it must be done.
  • Align yourself with people who will support you even when you fail.
  • You have more to offer, and you may have to leave for others to see it.
  • Believe in yourself that you are worth it.

Prepare your ears for a wonderful and insightful ride. Enjoy!
Kimberly Loving’s Full BIO

Kimberly Loving is the Chief of Staff at the Seattle Department of Human Resources.

She is an experienced Executive Operations and Human Resource Leader who is expert in building high performing teams that align with strategic vision. She has over 20 years of experience in both the public and the private sector. 

Kimberly is skilled in transforming executive vision into tactical and measurable deliverables and outcomes, as well as executing strategic initiatives through quality programs and solutions. She is also an expert in managing diverse executive level strategic projects.

Kimberly graduated at Reed College with a BA in Economics & International Comparative Policy Studies. She also holds an MBA from the American University- Kogod School Of Business.

Right Reasons

Yes, I have a pretty big job. It is extremely diverse. Some people say, “No day is the same.” For me, “No hour” is the same. Everyone can be very different in terms of the demands, the political swings at the moment, the needs of the organization, and the variety of other things.

The idea that so many tactical things going on is not unique to HR. I think it is a function of Western culture where everything must be fast, including the results, whether you’re in the public or private sector, or HR or in Manufacturing. How I ended up here is certainly unplanned. I feel like I am someone who accidentally landed in HR but for the right reasons. At my core, I care about people.

I remind myself to look at everything as an opportunity to learn. In some instances, you learn what not to do. – Kimberly Loving #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The Core

I love working with people. I love coaching and supporting my people, identifying their skills and the courageous steps they have to take to realize their potential and for me to develop high-performing teams. I am a pretty linear thinker. I love to solve problems and figure out how an organization can structure itself for people-based outcomes.

People are the things that matter most. The leaders that I have had the pleasure working with throughout my career and the ones that I work with today would hear me talk about this over and over. 

I refocus and repoint them constantly by asking, checking, and reminding them that it doesn’t matter how wonderful our strategic plans may look, or how excited we all are about it. If we are not seeding, developing, investing, and placing our people, our most precious and most valuable resource, at the core of everything that we do, we will fail.

Introducing performance metrics to departments where it didn’t exist before could be very frightening. But performance metrics, service metrics, and service level agreement outcomes and improvements are helpful in organizations. Hence, it is important to bring people together in order to educate and help them understand the why these methods are valuable.

It takes time. It takes time to sit down with people and listen to them. It takes time to schedule a post-activity meet up to talk about how your meeting or the presentation you led went, and what the good things were. As leaders, you must invest, prune, water, cultivate, and reach out to your network.

Refill your own cup. – Kimberly Loving #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

You have to be your own champion. – Kimberly Loving #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Align Yourself

You must align yourself with people who support and love you, and who are willing to be your champion even when you cannot be one for yourself. You have more to offer than some organizations are willing to see.

For anybody who might be struggling, you must align yourself with the people whom you can trust, whom you can be your true self with, and who will support you even if you fail. Hopefully people have families or close friends they call family to lean on.

Most importantly, lean on yourself. It’s not easy but it is not complicated either. Understand and embrace your power. Put yourself first.

Love yourself. You are worth it. Know that your talents will be cherished, valued, respected and honored if you put in the work and find the right leader, the right team and the right organization to work with.

Know what is important to you, where your values are, and how you want to align with your organization so that you can show up as your best self. – Kimberly Loving #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

You must believe in yourself. – Kimberly Loving #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


Connect with Kimberly on LinkedIn

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Listen to the podcast on Spotify