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.

126: The Beginnings of the Art of Caring Leadership

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In this episode, Heather shares with listeners her very special Author’s Day presentation with her publisher and guests. In it, she goes over her personal background, her “why” for writing, and the main focuses of the book. Her editor also talks about what makes this book so different.

If you are a fan of the guests from this show, this episode is surely a treat!

A Very Special Day

I decided to share with you my Author’s Day presentation with my publisher for my second book, “The Art of Caring Leadership.” The majority of the book is founded on the interviews from this podcast. You will get to hear me present the book in an interview format.  You will also get to hear my editor offer his own views, as well as give comments and ask questions coming from the guests. 

This is a very heartwarming special day and I want to share it with you.

We ourselves are also hopefully striving to be caring leaders. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

A Very Special Book

Caring leadership is not some nebula, or a squishy thing. It is real.

Each of us knows it when we feel it, and when we experience it from those who lead us—whether it is our parents, aunts, uncles, leaders of the community, or those inside the workplace.

We ourselves are also striving to be caring leaders. In this book, I am going to put some real guard rails. I will be writing real fundamental principles down on what it means to care. 

This way, people can put their hands around something and it just won’t fall between their fingers. I hope you enjoy my Author’s Day.

Caring leadership is real. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

A Very Special Request

I’d love to hear from you via email or comment on social media. Please do me a favor, and don’t forget to write a five-star review on Spotify, Apple podcast or wherever you listen.

This means a lot. The more people would get to hear the content and the brilliance of the leaders that I have on here, the better the world is going to be. I truly believe that.

Thank you for joining and listening consistently. Thank you for your loyalty. I hope you sincerely enjoy this episode. Be well. You may find my presentation as unlisted in YouTube.


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115: Leaders With Heart Know That How They Show Up Is Their Legacy

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In this episode, Heather Younger speaks with Kelly Moran, Executive Director of the American Cancer Society in Denver. Kelly shares a lot about her leadership style, her philosophy, and the importance of showing up as leaders. She also shares about a time when she was not her best and the key things we can do as leaders to move forward in our current Covid crisis.

Key takeaways:

  • Our attitude matters at work.
  • If we want to instill confidence and help others move forward past adversity, we must do it first.
  • Be your best self.
  • Look out for others first.
  • Create safe environments where everyone can bring their best ideas to work.
  • Check in frequently on your people.
  • Stay forward focused.
It’s high time to brush up your leadership with heart skills. Hope you don’t miss this!

Kelly Moran is an experienced professional specializing in volunteer engagement, fundraising, community engagement, and event planning. 

Her strong skills include volunteer engagement, community engagement, committee development, board development, fundraiser engagement, donor cultivation, corporate partnerships, conflict resolution, event management, strategy development, operational execution, and Microsoft Office.

Kelly values strong teamwork, communication, leadership, management, and problem-solving.

Learning and Doing

As a leader, a lot of times you have to learn while doing. That’s why I have that energized feeling of when you know you’re learning and growing. If I’m going to fail, I’d rather do it quickly, so I can move on to something else if it doesn’t work out.

I always think about what’s next. What we’re doing right now is clearly important too. But I’m a forward thinker, and I like to think how we’re building a thing into something bigger. People would probably describe me as ambitious, and a little bit of a risk taker.

Staying forward-focused is really important. – Kelly Moran #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Shield, Connect, Empower

There are a lot of ideas that come out of my mouth. They’re not all winners, and we don’t have to implement everything we discussed. But I think having that openness, where it’s okay to throw out a bad idea is important. Sometimes someone’s bad idea leads to someone else’s really good idea. Having the courage to do that is part of being able to innovate.

I get a lot of energy off of connecting with people. I love lots of ideas and the big picture. I’d like to see the full scope of things. I’ve just always been attracted to those types of positions that are highly interpersonal and highly interconnected. I also enjoy being where it’s messy a little bit. It’s just led me to positions where you’re really connecting with staff throughout the organization.

As a leader, you empower everyone around to be able to bring their best self to work. It’s really important to know your attitude, to put oneself in other people’s shoes and to manage a stressful day or being under a lot of pressure.

Also, I make sure that stress and pressure do not translate to everyone else. It is something that I’ve carried on how I want to lead. I want to shield for everyone, not project, when it comes to some of the harder things about a work environment like pressure and stress.

Look forward and don’t get too mired down on what’s happening right now. – Kelly Moran #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetIf you put kindness out there, you get kindness back. – Kelly Moran #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Purposeful Communication

When you’re at a distance, you like being purposeful about the informal pieces. It’s video chat central right now and everyone’s doing it. We’re seeing kids, dogs, bedrooms, and family rooms, so it’s like a whole other level to get to know people. You don’t have to get down to business right away.

Something I learned about being purposeful in putting the informal piece in is to always try and start meetings with interesting little questions to get to know each other and have a little chitchat versus getting straight to business.

One of the benefits of an office is you get to see people and there’s more presence, even if you’re not directly talking to each other every day. But this is a time of high stress and it creates fear for many. So, you have to be purposeful in your communication by checking in on people. A “Hey, how are you doing?” call goes a long way in times like this.

Be your best self, look out for others, and help them as much as they can. – Kelly Moran #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetWhat's really going to define us is how we move forward and continue. – Kelly Moran #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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113: Leaders with Heart Set a Clear Vision For Others to Follow

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In this episode, Heather Younger speaks with Kevin Patterson, CEO of Connect For Health Colorado about his leadership style and philosophy, a time when he was so proud of his leadership behaviors, and his unique perspective on employee voice and communication to different audiences.

Key takeaways:

  • Employees can’t be clear about what you need to do without knowing where you are going.
  • Do not micromanage; tell your people where you want them to end up and let them get there, their way.
  • We are managing to the outcome and not the how.
  • Provide guidance and suggestions on direction and then get out of the way.
  • Be comfortable with having a clear voice and vision.
  • Put yourself in the employees shoes to deliver the important messages.
  • We must nurture the human relationship side of the business.
Prepare your minds to be blown away in this episode. Listen and learn!

Kevin Patterson has served as Chief Executive Officer of Connect for Health Colorado since April of 2015. He previously served as chief administrative officer and interim chief of staff to Gov. John Hickenlooper and has an extensive history of public service. Kevin has served as the interim executive director of three state agencies during leadership transitions, the Governor’s Office of Information Technology, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Governor’s Energy Office. 

He brings a strong understanding of state government and stakeholder engagement to this role. Kevin has held leadership roles for the city and county of Denver in the Budget Office, the Planning Department, the Department of Human Services, the Department of General Services and the Department of Parks and Recreation. He was elected to the Denver Board of Education in 2001 and reelected in 2005. 

Kevin graduated with a B.A. in Teaching from Sam Houston State University and holds both a Master’s of Public Administration and a Master’s of Urban Regional Planning from the University of Colorado at Denver.  He serves on the Denver Zoological Foundation’s Leadership Council, the Health subcommittee of the Rose Foundation, and serves as a board member on the Tennyson Center for Children and the Keystone Policy Center.

Clear and Aligned

I currently sit as the Chief Executive Officer for Connect for health, Colorado. We administer the Affordable Care Act, which means I’m the person in charge of Obamacare for Colorado.

It’s important in an organization that everybody’s clear. This is where we’re going to go. Get everybody on the same page, and then the song sounds right. If you’re on a different page, everybody’s not singing the same song. Then, it doesn’t sound right. Things must be aligned from the frontline person up to the CEO.

You can’t be your best self as an employee if you’re not sure which direction you’re supposed to be. – @knp5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Communicative and Clear

I try to be very communicative and clear about expectations. I try my best not to micromanage. If you’re very clear about where you want them to end up by when, you don’t have to tell them to make three left turns to end up in the same place.

You have to be much more clear about what you want your outcome to be and about getting the vision to give context. It’s getting everybody to participate and describe the vision, and helping them get there. My job is to help block to make their job easier.

Also, it becomes important for us to have a cohort group. It is key because there’s a lot of times you can feel like you’re in it by yourself because there’s nobody that has the exact same job. There are similar ones, but not exactly the same. As they understand where pressure comes from, you don’t have to explain all to that group. They get it.

It’s also important to have questions.  Learn from your team and be able to listen. Sometimes the answers will come in conversations you’re going to have with other people. That is because they’re going to see it differently from the way you do. Somebody’s going to give you a perspective you did not have when you started.

You’ve got to be open to listen. You never know what one little piece is missing from the thousand-piece puzzle you needed to actually become clear on what the picture is. Be mindful and open to hearing.

We sometimes end up arguing so much about style points that we forget we're actually managing into the outcome. – @knp5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetBe comfortable with whatever you're doing. – @knp5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Interesting Connections

It’s funny. We spend all this time trying to grow up, to fit in, and to figure out a way not to be different than everybody else. But then, as you move on in life, you start figuring out that that’s actually what makes us really interesting people.

You see people when they become successful because you know there’s something different about them, that either gets people to follow, participate, or listen to them. Far too often we forget we’re dealing with humans. Humans are part of everything we do.

Again, we are dealing with humans. I’m always very mindful of who’s in front. You never know what a person hears. But, they’re going to have a perspective that you will never have because you’re sitting in an office.

So, you always have to make sure you’re talking to everybody in the organization to make sure you know what’s actually going on. No matter who you think they talk to, remember to connect with persons individually.

Look in the mirror and check if you're okay. If you're not, think about what you need to do differently so that you can look at yourself and be comfortable. – @knp5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet It's important that you really have to know and understand yourself. – @knp5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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112: Leaders with Heart Lead First with Grace

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In this episode, Heather Younger speaks with Andy Boian, Founder and CEO of Dovetail Solutions, a PR firm based out of Colorado. Andy shares a touching story of his drive to lead out of adversity, his ideas on a 60-day quick start program for new employees and his reason why he speaks last at meetings.

Key takeaways:

  • Make sure those you lead feel valued, and that their interests and jobs are valued.
  • We must give trust before we get it.
  • Speak last as the leader in the room so you get the benefit of hearing other views and create a psychologically safe space for your people.
  • If you lead your people first with grace they will give it back to you.
  • Be compassionate to yourself and know who you are.
Hope you don’t miss this gem of an insightful episode. Listen and learn!

Andy Boian, Founder and CEO of Dovetail Solutions, is a natural “connector.” His career started in 1991 in political strategy and corporate communications before diving into PR fully. Public Relations Society of America, named his firm the “Public Relations Firm of the Year” recently.

Most recently, he served as chairman of the successful campaign and election of California’s 40th and current Governor, Gavin Newsom, and is now an advisor to former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.  Additionally, he served on the transition teams for both the nation’s forty-second President and a cabinet member of the nation’s forty-third President. He has been on the faculty of the University of Denver, the University of Colorado and Arapahoe Community College as well as Metropolitan State University of Denver for over a two decades.

He is a recipient of the Denver Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” award, the Colorado Statesman’s “Fifty for the Future” and Metropolitan State University of Denver’s “Mover and Shaker” award. Additionally, Andy was recognized by his alma mater as an Alumnus of Distinction in 2011. In 1999, he was asked to run as a Colorado representative of the Democratic National Committee. He served four years at the national level.

Andy is remarkably active in the Denver philanthropic community. He founded ExecConnect, and served as board of the Henry C. Kempe Foundation, and the Denver Botanic Gardens. He is currently a board member of DAPS (Denver Association of Professional Services), BBVA Compass Bank, Turbine Labs, the PIVOT Foundation, and the Denver Scholarship Foundation. He is also a contracted senior political analyst for Denver’s Channel 31 Fox television network news.

Equal and Valued

In the early days of my career, it was unique for a guy in his mid-20’s to have some insight into treating someone who works with you as an equal and still have the same authority over what they do, how they act, and how they practice.

I’ve always worked hard to make sure that those who work with me in both professional and non-profit capacities always feel valued. I want them to always feel like their interest and responsibility in the community is valued.

There are no boundaries on how to work things out. – @apb5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Trusted and Respected

Employee loyalty is not something that just comes with day one on the job. What really has to be a part of the process is gaining that trust and respect by giving it.

The first thing we do right away is a 60-day Quick Start plan with our new employees. We ask for his or her aspirations, which is not about their job roles or company expectations, for the next 60 days.

I am the CEO, the one who writes the checks and does the negotiations. But I find myself more as a part of a team. I am not really somebody who is an authority over anyone, but gives authority with others. I use the word “with” a lot.

I’m not your boss. I’m your colleague. I think the boss-subordinate relationship is backwards. The top-down stuff doesn’t make sense to me, and it never did.

Psychological safety is what makes people feel better. We put a lot of effort and time into people who come to work for us and with us up front. If they feel immediately valued, immediately listened, and immediately considered, they’re going to want to stay.

We are business of relationships. We may be a public relations firm that deals with the media and talks to the public, but it is so big that it’s so much more than that. Especially right now with the pandemic we are going through, clients rely to us now more than ever for things that aren’t written down in our scope. But those kinds of things only come up if they trust you.

Be compassionate to yourself. – @apb5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetThink about ways on how you can provide value. – @apb5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Speak Last

As CEO, I find myself in rooms full of people who work at our firm. I often don’t speak until the end. I don’t think that leaders, necessarily some of the best leaders I know speak last.

Let’s say we have a strategy meeting on a topic, or we’re dealing with a difficult client, and we all have come together to talk about how to manage this situation. If I speak first, it defeats the purpose.

I have two reasons why I speak last. First is, I gain the perspective of my people without having to say anything. My people get to voice what they want a voice, and they feel comfortable without any caveat saying what they want to say. I get the benefit of listening to that. Even if I don’t necessarily agree, if I think something different or if It goes long, I still listen because they have been willing to open themselves up.

The second reason is, when it is my turn, I want to speak with everybody’s thoughts in mind. If I come in with an agenda, I’m not leading. If I listen to what my people have to say but I have already made my decision before coming in, that’s not the way to leave. It must be done with everybody’s communication in place. I’ll speak only after I’ve had the chance to garner all opinions, and take them into account when determining what CEO’s would say in the end.

It’s basic to give the employee or the team member assurance that we have their backs. – @apb5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetA critical part of how you treat somebody respectfully is when you do it with heart. – @apb5280 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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111: Leaders with Heart Feel Called to Serve Others

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In this episode, Heather Younger speaks with Timbra Yoakum, Director of Special Programs, Mabank Independent School District about her drive to lead, her time when she was not the best version of her, her leadership style and focus, and where her passes lies.

Key takeaways:

  • Be a servant leader and get in the trenches with those you lead.
  • Don’t place yourself above those you lead, but be in a supportive role at their side.
  • Spend one-on-one time and get to know your people personally.
  • Leadership is more of a union with those who look for you for guidance.
Hope you don’t miss this insightful episode. Listen and learn!

Timbra Yoakum has been in education for 15 years, and is currently the Director of Special Programs for a public school district in Texas. She has spent the last eight years as an Educational Diagnostician.

A Servant’s Heart

My style is having a servant’s heart. I try to lead by doing the dirty, hard jobs all the way up to the difficult tasks. I lead with my heart as a servant. That goes back to my core value, which is to serve each other.

I have a passion for kids. I started out as a classroom teacher, and I saw the need to address students with special needs better. 

As a teacher, I want to do better for the kids. I could touch more lives by creating people, systems and processes that could impact their lives. Helping kids and people that need it most is where my heart is. 

I lead with my heart as a servant. – Timbra Yoakum #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Quick Change

I started my work for the school district and left to take a promotion in a different school. Then, I was offered an interview for a job back to the district and I didn’t feel quite ready for it. It was hard to come back and work as a leader of people who were my peers before.

I didn’t know how to handle that at first. I wanted to change. Then my superintendent, my boss kept saying that I was spinning too fast. And, when you spin so quickly, you’re flinging everybody else around you. They can’t keep up with your ideas and how fast you’re spinning. But, I want to make changes.

The first couple of months were difficult. Me wanting to make changes too quickly came across as finding fault with people who were already working really hard. I think I made people feel defensive about the work they were doing.

As a new leader, the best advice I got was to build relationships. I need to build trust. I don’t have to change everything all at once. I need to build relationships so people would trust that my ideas came from a place of improvement and not from a place of finding faults with the work that has already been done. 

So, I slowed my way down and focused on the human component. I paid attention to how I could support my team emotionally to build trust. After that, everything just fell in place. It just slid in effortlessly and nobody felt like their hard work were being attacked. I do love my team and I care for them.

Helping everyone see that these children and people with disabilities need the same opportunities is where my passion is. – Timbra Yoakum #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet As leaders, we just show up. We do the hard stuff with a good attitude. – Timbra Yoakum #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

More Listening and Observing

I don’t ever want to be seen as the person in the office that’s not down to the ground with the troops. So, I try to start the day knowing the daily lives of my people. I spend the first part of my day talking to them about things beyond their job roles. I try to open up the lines of communication to all of my teachers and administrators by email, phone calls, visitations, or just spending time.

I want my people to feel comfortable to come to me with their problems. I want them to know that when I come into a classroom, I’m not there to watch the teacher but to see their needs. So, I ask, watch, and listen to them—a lot less talking and a lot more listening and observing.

I also try to help them to be solutions oriented. I help each person to find the leader within them, whether he or she may be a teacher or a direct assessments staff. If they come to be with a problem, I want to hear their solutions first before I give them an answer.

You don’t have to always act like there isn’t a struggle. It’s okay to admit that it’s tough. – Timbra Yoakum #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetA little bit of time goes such a long way in building relationships. – Timbra Yoakum #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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110: Leaders With Heart Listen And Then Iterate

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In this episode, Heather Younger speaks with Arlene Mendoza, Senior Innovation Program Manager at Alluma about her leadership style, her drive to lead, her time when she did not shine as a leader and her ideas about iterating our leadership style.

Key takeaways:

  • Listen to yourself and then to others.
  • Think of leadership as an iterative process.
  • It is okay to decide to move in a different direction instead of being miserable in your current role.
  • We lead more effectively when we are using our best talents.

Don’t miss the pearls of this wonderful episode. Listen, learn and stay safe!
Arlene Mendoza’s Full BIO

Arlene Mendoza is inspired in bringing to life projects, ideas, opportunities with a curious heart, strategic mind, and always pushing the envelope on what is possible. She is driven by challenges and the possibility of co-creating and delivering on that which hasn’t been done before.

With over 10 years of corporate experience, Arlene’s focus has been re-imagining ‘value propositions’ as it relates to new businesses within Fortune 100 companies and developing executive client engagements/client partnership content for emerging technologies in the SaaS market. She loves bringing new perspectives to sales and business development with the use of design thinking and a values-centric approach. Arlene is the bridge and connector between the technology offering and the value-add it will provide to the overall business for my clients. She also searches for unique approaches with a natural ability to be both analytical and creative incorporating human centered design into scaling tech solutions to increase and tap into our human potential.

She is an owner of a consulting firm and an investor with SheEO (women led fund). She currently sits on the Board of Directors of a Minority Owned Civil Engineering firm in Long Beach, CA – Moran Consulting as well as the Ignite Leadership Institute at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA.

Ask, Iterate, Listen

I have a bit of a beginner’s mind. For the last 12 years, I was in the corporate and now I moved into the tech nonprofit  space. I am growing and learning on how to translate my skills, and also developing new ones, learning from others, and reflecting a lot.

This journey is an iterative process and an art, because there’s not one course you can take or one book you can read. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I read a lot of different books. It’s very personal. 

It took me a while to understand my own secret sauce or super power. We do certain things in our normal ways and it takes others to recognize or comment on them to work. I think part of this journey is the ask, and the iterate, and the listen.

I think leadership and growth are not isolated events. – Arlene Mendoza #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Be Curious, Stay Curious

I can remember when I was four. I was sitting with my family at a very formal family dinner. Everybody said no elbows on the table as a rule. But one of the older gentleman had his elbows on the table. It was okay for him, but nobody else could do the same. I remember thinking at a really young age, “Why do we have to be like this? Why can’t I also have my elbows on the table?”

I imagined things could be different. I always asked, “What if?” or “Why not?” and “Why not me?” I believe there’s this curiosity and exploratory part in me which I didn’t acknowledge as related with leadership, as much as I acknowledged it with curiosity.

I have this expansive curious mind. As I imagine things in my life, I try to lift and go. “Why not live this way? Why not go after that degree? Why not go after grad school? Why not do this to hit that. Why not take action?”

I think it’s just this curious rambunctious, optimistic part of me that believes that there’s also a responsibility to be a voice. I feel this responsibility to be curious and stay curious and to navigate new ways of doing things.

My dad had modeled for me the need to figure things out. So, when I come to him with a problem, I better have tried or have assumed certain things, and don’t just say that something was broken. I think that this made me extra resilient. Meanwhile my grandfather was an explorer. He liked travel and meeting people and has a “The world is my oyster” mindset. I believe this culture and this view the world has been infused a lot in my leadership style.

It isn't always second nature that certain things work. – Arlene Mendoza #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetInstead of listening to respond, listen to understand. – Arlene Mendoza #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Taking Pivot, Making Changes

In my last role before leaving corporate, a lot of reflections came out. I felt that I was not showing up and my heart wasn’t working the way it used to be. For a couple of months, I was doing a poor job. Mainly it was really difficult to understand and to just tell myself that it’s okay to take a pivot to make a change, and to look for another opportunity.

I knew that there was a shift that needed to happen, and I made a decision to leave the company. It was an opportunity for me to explore a new path. I had to give myself the permission to contemplate that my work, although it’s not reflective of my potential and it’s not up to par, doesn’t mean that I am a failure.

I can. I have a choice. I can search be in search of another opportunity.

It took somebody to tell me: You have a skill set. Know that the opportunity for you is out there. Believe that you can go and find it. You can shine elsewhere. If it doesn’t work, don’t be so hard on yourself. Just try again.

Listening to understand is a whole different dynamic, because it's about extracting and understanding what the other person is trying to communicate to you. – Arlene Mendoza #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetSometimes you need external touch points and reflections to help move you. – Arlene Mendoza #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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94: Leaders With Heart Allow Their People To Discover Their Best Selves

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In this episode, Heather shares a personal story about her daughter that highlights what courage and authenticity really look like. She also discusses how leaders need to be the catalysts to create environments that allow people to discover their gifts, and in turn, use those gifts for the betterment of all.

The Unpredictable

All of you know that I have four children, and my oldest has been a source of inspiration. She has also been a source of stress at times, but more of an inspiration since her birth. She is a kid who struggled with cognitive delays and it caused her to be someone who works really hard to just stay afloat.

Recently, she enrolled in a rhetoric course, which required her to do speech analysis, and poem deliveries in front of the whole class. They all had to choose a speech, and she chose Malcolm X. This is my daughter, the quiet, introverted, compliant, young lady, and she chose Malcolm X. I asked her why.

We have to put our people in environments that allow them to stretch outside themselves, their limitations, and where they thought they could go. -  @CustomerFanatix #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Taking The Step

She selected Malcolm X because the piece talks about getting the point across with people who are not listening. She believed in his lens. My daughter, this person whom we don’t know if she is understanding what is happening, was so crystal clear.

She also said, “There were a lot of things that were against him. A teacher told him that he would never make anything of himself. I felt for him, because over my life, I had people who implied that I wouldn’t go places, and that I couldn’t do certain things. That really spoke to me.”

After she gave the speech, her teacher and everybody else in the room were flabbergasted. It was impactful for everyone because it talked about the truth regarding a large group of people in America.

After three or four days, Her teacher still kept on mentioning her talk in class in a positive light. He even decided to do a unit on Malcolm X for the next semester.

I can’t believe my daughter took the step. I was so proud of her. To be honest, I’m not sure if I would have that courage. 

She decided to be her most full self. She decided to be courageous in exploring what needs to be explored, in teaching others, and in bringing them to the truth.

Do not place limitations on your people. - @CustomerFanatix #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Discovering Our People

We have an obligation to let our people discover the depths of who they are.

We have to allow our people to have safe spaces, and put them in environments that allow them to stretch outside themselves, their limitations, and where they thought they could go, and not place limitations on them. 

When they do, whether they do well or not, we still recognize them for their courage, authenticity, and effort, because those are the things that we value. When we value those things, then we get more of them. As a result, they flourish.

Decide to be courageous in exploring what needs to be explored, in teaching others, and in bringing them to the truth. - @CustomerFanatix #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet Recognize your people for their courage, authenticity, and effort. -  @CustomerFanatix #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet When we value the courage, authenticity, and effort of our people, we get more of them. - @CustomerFanatix #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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92: Leaders With Heart Know That Spending Time With Their People Drives Business Results

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Ron Alvesteffer, President and CEO of Service Express, about his leadership style, his engaging way of meeting his team members, his pearls of wisdom, and his unique way with his direct reports that sets him apart and brings him closer to them.

Key takeaways:

  • Spend time with your people.
  • Self-reflect on who you are as a leader. Do you inspire?
  • Go to work for your people, not the other way around.
  • Make sure your team knows that you care.
  • Lead with the relationship first, then metrics and results second.

This episode is full of wisdom. Hope you don’t miss this!
Ron Alvesteffer’s Full BIO

Ron Alvesteffer has helped Service Express define its market and create a unique performance-driven culture for employees. As a result, Service Express has been named one of the Best & Brightest Companies to Work For in the Nation 8 years in a row. In 2019, Fortune magazine certified Service Express a winner of their Best Small & Medium Workplaces.

Under Ron’s leadership, Service Express has averaged double-digit revenue growth year over year and has expanded the geographic footprint nationally. Ron implemented Service Express’ Performance Measurement System (SR5), which tracks monthly and quarterly goals and results.

Ron also authored the eBook, The Service Express Way – values and principles of a growing company. In it, Ron shares the beliefs and philosophies, along with real-life stories from the field that have driven these remarkable results.

Helping Others

I urge all of my leaders to always learn, grow, and strive to be the best they can be.

I like to be in control and be out in front. I believe what Zig Ziglar said, that you can get everything you want in life if you help other people enough to get what they want. That really is the heart of my leadership style, our company, our cultures, and how we hire and promote leaders. 

I get my greatest joy and satisfaction when I help other people achieve their goals through coaching, mentoring, feedback, and connections. I am overjoyed to know and really see them come to life. It truly does happen. You can get everything you want. 

I am where I hope all of my leaders are: always learning, always growing. - @RonAlvesteffer #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Caring for Others

The byproduct of my career and all of the positive things in my life have come from helping other people achieve their goals. - @RonAlvesteffer #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

John Maxwell noted that people won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. With that, I think my team would echo that because I am all in for them all the time.

Showing people that you care and truly caring about them could be the most important thing that you do as a leader. I hate to rank because people would question their value. But it is true. If your team doesn’t really know and believe that you care about them as a person, everything else will fall flat. 

The more you care, the more you can challenge your people when it is appropriate. It’s a balance between encouragement, coaching, challenging, and all of those great things. We love our children. Don’t we do that to our children?

I care about my people because they are my work family. That is part of my role as the coach and guide. I’ll help them along the way. I will let them fail and learn from that. But, if they are going to fail where it hurts too much or it would hurt someone else, we’ll correct that. It’s built out of caring about my people and seeing them develop as functional individuals.

Working for Others

During the time when I was not the best leader, I did two things.

One, I had lead with my relationship with my team first. So, instead of picking up the phone or sitting down for a meeting and getting right into the numbers, the deals, and the harsh feedback, I’d put all of that on secondary. 

Two, I started asking, “How are you doing? How are things going for you? Where can I help you? How can I be of help?”

Instead of telling them what they needed from me and dictating them what I thought they needed, I asked them what I could do for them. These are subtle shifts, but they are powerful.

When you become a leader, the role is how you can help. Go solve problems, and help them solve their problems. Remove their roadblocks and go to work for them. As a leader, you work for your team.

Sometimes, people who are trying to be great leaders miss the point of correction. - @RonAlvesteffer #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet If your team doesn’t really know and believe that you care about them as a person, everything else will fall flat. - @RonAlvesteffer #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet When you become a leader, don’t start telling everybody what to do. - @RonAlvesteffer #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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Three ways to conquer low morale

In a 2017 study, prominent researchers found a statistically significant correlation between low morale and motivation on employees’ productivity & competitiveness. The effects of low employee morale in the workplace can be devastating to organizational and team success. Here are three ways organizational leaders can conquer low morale and overcome any productivity perils:

What have you done for me lately?

According to TINYpulse’s 2019 Employee Engagement Report, 75% of employees feel like their organization fails to recognize them for the work that they bring to their organizations. On the flipside, Globoforce found that 55% of employees said that they would leave their organization for an organization that values them.

This is a problem. It is also the #1 way to conquer low morale. Employees need to consistently feel like their manager, team and organization appreciates the work that they do.

Meaningful work is what contributes most towards a positive workplace sentiment. Therefore, organizational leaders who curate a culture of appreciation ensure a positive workplace sentiment. In doing so, they bust through low morale and experience higher levels of productivity, engagement and loyalty.

What was that? I can’t hear you!

As soon as we enter this world, we require attention. We long for our parents to hear our cries and come to our crib to comfort us. Wanting to be heard is innate. A critical way to conquer low morale is to listen closely to your employees.

When I refer to listening, I mean the acts of both listening and acting upon what you hear. Most people hate employee surveys. This is primarily because they never hear anything back on their grievances or suggestions. They feel like their voices mean nothing to those who have the power to change their workplace experience.

When organizational leaders act on one-on-one feedback, on survey feedback, on performance review feedback, they say to their employees, “You are significant.”

Want to conquer low employee morale? Listen and act.

Lift me up please!

According to TINYpulse’s 2019 Employee Engagement Report, only one in three people strongly agree that they have the opportunity to reach their full potential at their organization. In that same report, when they asked “what the main reason would be if they were to leave their organizations, a staggering number of workers pointed to a lack of growth opportunities as the most likely cause.”

Employee want their leaders to lift them up. When they don’t feel like they are being lifted up out of complacency, we see low morale take shape.

Some practical ways to do this? Make sure that they feel like they are stretching outside their current roles, make sure they know what career paths are available to them and how to access them, include them in cross-functional teams focusing on solving business challenges.

If you do not create a fertile place for them to grow, employee morale will continue to take a deep dive. Lay plenty of seeds and water frequently!


Many organizations struggle with low morale. What I have found is that they often ignore the signs and the solutions. If you can manage to focus on showing sincere and consistent appreciation, listening to them and acting upon what you hear and lift them up by helping them grow, you will conquer low employee morale once and for all. Remember, none of this is a one-and-done scenario. It takes consistent attention and watering to make it take root.