127: Leaders with Heart Don’t Give Away Their Influence

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In this episode, Heather speaks to Michele Nevarez, CEO of Goleman EI about her drive to lead, her leadership style, a time when she was not the best version of herself and her interesting take on discovering what we can influence and impact.

Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t give away your influence.
  • Realize that we have a choice to focus our thinking on what we can influence.
  • Are your current thought patterns helping you or hurting you?
  • What are your thinking habits?
  • Keep building evidence for who you want to be.
  • We are often stuck in our own mindsets.
Listen to this episode and strengthen your leadership with heart!

Michelle Nevarez serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Goleman EI. 

Founder and creator of the Goleman EI suite of Coaching and Training programs, Michele’s vision is to democratize EI as a means of igniting personal and global agency. This driving force for Michele is at the core of how Goleman EI’s programs translate emotional intelligence from theory to a powerful and practical vehicle for meaningful transformation and lasting habit change. 

Michele brings 25+ years of executive leadership experience working for industry leaders in healthcare, investment management, management consulting, and manufacturing. A founding member of Rangjung Yeshe Institute based in Kathmandu, Nepal, Michele has practiced mindfulness-based training for 27+ years.

Michele received a B. A. in Religion from Bryn Mawr College and a Master of Science degree in Positive Organizational Development and Change from the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. 

Twist and Turns

I think I might have been too hard and a little too critical on the CEO’s that I have reported to in the past. My leadership journey has been marked with being the head of a startup, and having zero startup capital. That required a lot of creativity, hard work, and it’s taken a lot of twists and turns along the way.

Being a good leader, in general and as a CEO of a particularly small company, has a lot to do with how you interact with your people and how much time you spend interfacing with your team.

I have always been fascinated by what causes people to behave the way they do and how their beliefs factor in. – Michele Nevarez #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Innovation and Kindness

My people tell me that I tend to have kind of an innovative streak, and I am definitely the kind of leader that leads with vision and innovation in mind. I have no shortage of ideas—that’s never the issue. It’s the ability to execute on them.

I am a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of person, in my natural style. But anything to an extreme is also not great. There are potential negative behavioral implications to that.

I’m pretty hands off if I think the person has it covered, but I’m more inclined to be present to someone new, or a person doing initial setup. But I struggle with carving out enough time for all the important things. It’s actually a real challenge, to be honest.

My drive to lead is linked to my desire to do good in the world and to be of benefit to the maximum of my potential in this life. I want to do so in a way that amounts to playing big.

I come from a long line of really hard workers, migrant laborers during an era that was not so kind. That’s where my work ethic, the idea of fighting for the underprivileged, fighting for people who really need some ground cover, and believing that I have the ability to somehow provide something to that equation of benefit, come from.

The things that keep us stuck are causally linked to ultimately our thinking, mindset, and beliefs. – Michele Nevarez #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Everybody's situations are very different. – Michele Nevarez #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Influence and Control

As humans, we’re inclined to spend a lot of time worrying, persevering, or being focused on things that we don’t actually have that much control or any control over. So, it becomes a waste of our time and energy.

I always encourage my clients and the people who go through our program to think about influence more critically. Where do they actually have influence and control over, where do they have none? Going through that analysis and realization that they would do well; we would focus on where we have the ability to impact.

We don’t always have the ability to control what comes up, but in that moment of becoming aware of what’s there, we have at least the possibility of choice of how we will relate to whatever we find—an emotion, or a thought. Also, we have agency to work with our thinking and relating to our thoughts that is more productive.

When we turn our capacity for awareness to a productive point of observation or focus that can actually move us forward, there’s a lot of possibility in that. – Michele Nevarez #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

There's no power in victim mentality. – Michele Nevarez #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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50: Leaders With Heart Know That Their Lens Impacts Those They Lead


In this episode, Heather speaks with Kristy McCann, Founder and CEO of GoCoach. Kristy talks to Heather about her recent not-so-great leadership moments, her “let the light in” approach when things aren’t perfect, and her ways to connect with her virtual team.

Key takeaways:

  • The lens of the leader impacts those around her.
  • All good people and not-so-good people make us the leaders we are today.
  • Let the team lead you.
  • Understanding your stressors is key.
  • You need to have a bad day to see the blessings in front of you.
  • Our work should be focused on how we can inspire others.
  • We are able to reach more people when we remove the walls.

Kristy’s deep belief in helping leaders grow is really contagious. Don’t miss this one!

Kristy McCann’s Full BIO

Kristy is passionate in helping and educating others to achieve their success. With over 15 years of experience in Strategic Human Resource Leadership, Change Management and Organizational Development, she has served in senior leadership positions throughout her career. 

She is transforming that passion through GoCoach, a company whose mission is to help and educate others to own their career. She brings a big picture perspective and a hands-on, tactical approach to her leadership as its CEO & Founder.

Great Intentions

According to Kristy, anyone who goes into HR has great intentions.

I went in to HR just because I wanted to help a lot of people do a lot of different things. When you go into HR, you have the responsibility of not only all of the people but also the business. You really play as a conduit and make sure that everything happens with integrity and values, which will be pushed down to all customers or anyone who comes in. 

It’s always a challenge. You hired me to keep you honest. You hired me to be the pulse of your organization and I am your true hand. A lot of leaders have embraced that.

We are built to create a safe and supporting environment for everybody to learn. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Never the Enemy

People in HR want to be able to help and it’s about how we work with leaders to be able to do that. I wanted to help people particularly in HR so that they can never be compromised.

The more education that you bring means the more integrity you’ll drive, and the more productivity, empowerment and happiness that the organization is going to have.

You have to get into almost a bad place for the light bulb to go on and realize that HR individuals are never the enemy.

It’s about how they utilize their skills and ambitions to be able to make a lot of great things happen within an organization. But they need the help of leadership.

When you educate leaders as to what integrity really is, rather than just the bottom line, you’d go so much further.

I had to be ugly again in order for me to see the true beauty of what I was doing. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The Greatest Gift

I have always looked at myself in the lens of how I can help a lot of people do great things and come together. That’s always a part of my natural DNA. I think a lot of it has come from good matriarchs within my family who were always there and helping in so many different capacities. They didn’t even understand the value they are bringing. Also, a lot of it had to do with the struggles that I went and saw other people go through.

I never wanted anyone to hurt like I did. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Keeping that lens on and trying to provide a safe and supportive environment for people so that they can learn well made me into a leader. What really drives me are happy people. What drives me are empowered people. Getting up every single day to my team right now is the biggest gift. Now, I am not the only leader, but I have a great team that is all leading me and keeping me on this. It is the biggest win-win.

If somebody remembers me because I have inspired them, then that's pretty cool. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet
Pain brings a lot of people together. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


Connect with Kristy on LinkedIn or through GoCoach!

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