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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The #1 Reason to Lead the Whole Person

While many of you were enjoying Valentine’s Day with your special someone, I decided to join 1100 middle school students at a youth retreat in the Colorado mountains. I’m still a little upset that I didn’t get chocolate, flowers and wine, but I will get over it?. Hopefully, my husband will too. Gratefully, I learned a lot about caring leadership.

I absolutely love living in Colorado! I enjoy the crisp air, the snow-capped mountains, the extensive hiking opportunities and the people. Needless to say, I was eager to chaperone this event as I always heard amazing feedback from the previous years’ chaperones. It sounded transformative. Indeed, it was.

What I enjoyed most about my time at this retreat were the small group sessions. Warmly, my group was extra special, since I had sixth and seventh grade girls, many of them were in my son’s class. Nostalgically, I saw them grow up. As a result, they were more comfortable with me. This environment was ripe for a leadership lesson on how to lead the whole person.

Surprisingly, the weight of leadership was on my shoulders as I asked them questions and could see their reliance on me for the answers. I asked them questions of faith, personal identity, prioritization and much more. There answers were both innocent and transparent. I wanted to respond to them in that moment. Then, I needed to both show them compassion and remain strong when my heart hurt for some who expressed confusion and dislike for who they were and how they could best impact the world. More importantly, I knew I needed to lead the whole person.

Admittedly, I held back tears after hearing their responses. Unfortunately, Many felt unworthy, unfulfilled, like they didn’t belong and like they were lost.

On my podcast and in my writing, I talk about the need to not appear perfect or untouched sitting with those we lead. Truthfully, I was the one being led. Honestly, they exhibited caring leadership as they listened intently to the others present and responded with empathy.

The true meaning of “lead the whole person” came to a head for me this weekend. Proudly, I left there feeling like I created a safe space for them to air their fears, questions and concerns without judgement. These young ladies wanted to find a place where they could be themselves and accepted for all their quirkiness. Certainly, I hope they found that in these small group meetings.

I will forever be grateful for that time. I will think of
them fondly and pray that the best comes to them. My hope will be that they are
called to do what they were put on this earth to do, and that they answer that
call with excitement and authenticity.

Leading others is a huge responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. Fundamentally, our people depend on us to help them see their way out of darkness and confusion and into a place of enlightenment and light. Finally, let’s all resolve to lead the whole person and meet our people where we find them. I received a gift for doing so. I pray that you can find a gift like this too.

Who is supporting your leadership?

Some of you might not be aware that this past Sunday, Mother’s Day, I spoke at the TEDx Colorado Springs event. There were so many turning points and milestones leading up to that day, but the one thing that hit me like a ton of bricks was the level of support my family provided me.

To participate in this event, it took nothing short of amazing amounts of tears and frustration. Honestly, I had to sacrifice some time with my kids so that I could perform at my best on that one day, during those 13 minutes of my talk.

The day before the event, I received word from the TEDX organizers that we would be on the news the following morning. It was optional and only a few speakers were selected. I was one of those speakers. I was already really exhausted from all the practicing and other projects and lack of sleep and mentioned the opportunity to my kiddos. Without hesitation, they said, “Mom, you have to do it.!” This was so uplifting. By seizing the opportunity, this would mean that we would get up at 3 AM and head over an hour away to arrive for a 5:30 AM news segment.

This didn’t phase my kiddos. They wanted this for me. They prepared themselves for the entire day and remained positive and supportive.

This got me thinking about who we surround ourselves with as leaders. Do the people that you keep close to you support you in the ways I described above with unrelenting support and belief, willing to do anything so that you can shine? Would you do the same for them?

As leaders, we often bring people onto our teams, because we need help, but then we discover that there is no alignment. What measures are we taking to ensure that our people are supporting our personal mission, vision and values? Will they stand or will they cave?

How appropriate for me to be with my biggest supporters on Mother’s Day. What’s even more inspiring than my talk was the level of commitment, pride and grit my kids showed while they embarked on the day that got them up at 3:00 and back home by 8PM that night. My 12-year old, 14-year old and 16-year old sat listening to 11 speakers before ever hearing me. They never complained and thanked me for the experience.

I thanked them even more for standing by me and supporting my leadership.


P.S. I will share the video once it goes live, which probably won’t be for about 2 months.

Please share this article with those who might benefit. I appreciate you!

35: Leaders with Heart Know that Their Leadership is Formed by the Conversations they have with Their People

In this podcast episode, Heather speaks with Mareo McCracken, about his leadership journey, his unexpected story that served as a catalyst for his current leadership mindset and he shares with us pearls of wisdom.


Key takeaways:

  • New leaders often seek control when they are new to their role.
  • Real leaders help others see the vision, want to follow it and empower their people to do something about it.
  • Leadership is giving people courage to try something new.
  • Leaders need to be led as well.
  • Leaders must be more active in the lives of the people they lead.
  • Leaders need to be focused on others and not themselves.
  • How well you lead is determined by how good your conversations are with your people.
  • Take time to get to know your people.
  • If you are thinking about yourself first, you are starting on the wrong foot.

These are just some of the takeaways from this rich conversation. Listen in!

Mareo McCracken’s Full BIO

Mareo McCracken is the Revenue Leader for the software firm Movemedical where he leads the Sales and Marketing efforts. His passion is helping others live their lives with courage. He focuses professionally on helping organizations grow at the intersection of organizational health, individual performance, and revenue.

Courage, not Control

For a long time, I thought leading meant being in charge. 

Often, when you’re not in a leadership-titled position, you feel like you don’t have control over the things you want to do.

You think you get more control by being a leader but, what I’ve learned is that leaders often have less actual control, because they rely so much on the people you lead that there is even less that you have the ability to actually do yourself.

Some people are born natural leaders. But there’s lots of other people who have to learn how to become a leader, and have to learn to get the right mindset because they realize, in order to do this the right way, “I have to lead others from a different perspective, a different place in my heart and mind.”

Of course, the goal is to help people. I do believe in encouraging people and giving people courage. Courage is taking action in everything that stops us from taking the right action.

As a leader, if I can possibly help someone have enough courage to take one step, to just do something that they’re not doing today, then that’s my main focus and my main job. 

That’s ultimately the goal. People who feel important will do anything for you.

Once we embrace the idea that we are leaders that is when we starting realizing how much more we have to go, learn and grow.” #growth #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetIf you can’t learn to delegate and empower, you cannot really be a leader.” #equip #empower #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetCourage is the ability to take action in the face of fear, grief or pain.” #courage #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Aligning is Important

When I decided to move to Movemedical, I went from leading a team to being my own sole proprietor: no employees, nobody to lead besides myself, to back to managing people in a team. And, I didn’t do the transition very well at first. I thought, “Okay I’m going to delegate. I’m going to let people do their thing, and I’m not going to micro-manage.” That’s one of the worst things you can be as a leader– a micro-manager.

After a few months, the President of the company took me for a walk, and he said, “You’re not coaching. You’re not training. You’re not leading the people the way they need to be led. They have problems and you’re not helping them solve them.” I’m like, “Yeah, because I want them to solve them on their own, and then I’ll give guidance when they ask for it.” And he’s like, “You’re not a reactive leader. That’s not why you’re on this team.” 

I had to be told where I was falling short, and that’s actually what good leaders do. They have candor. They’re radically transparent, and they let the people they are leading know when they’re not performing, as well as when they are performing, of course. They’re saying, “That’s not who you really are, so I would need you to live and act who you really are.”

So that was a big eye opener. It was about 3 years ago when that happened. And I realized, all these stuff I know, learn, remember, talk, and myself, I was forgetting it, I wasn’t doing it. 

And that was a big eye opening moment where I decided, I have to be more active in the lives of the people I’m supposed to lead. I can’t just be there. I have to be, actually with my mind and heart, helping them overcome their problems, not just waiting for them to come to me.

When you get so focused on your actual tasks, you stop thinking about other people. There was a time when I didn’t think about other people the right way, I was thinking more about myself and what I had to get done, and not necessarily aligning my vision and values with that of the team. 

Leaders need to be lead as well.” #courage #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetWhen there is misalignment, nothing ever works.” #align #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Leadership is Conversation

It’s conversations, and that’s all leadership really is. It’s different types of conversations, and those conversations can come in a variety of forms. It can be email, it can be one-on-one. It can be one-to-many.

Different people have different needs, wants, and desires. You have to find a way to meet those needs, and give them what they want in the type of conversations they need.

Some people need to build a lot of rapport. You need to get to know people better, and then you can skid down to business. Other people, they just want to get the work done because they’re so focused. And if you spend time having the wrong type of conversations, they’re going to shut off.

It just takes time to get to know the people. And so really, if you take the time to get to know someone, you’ll figure out how they need to be led. And as long as you can remember that – that comes from not thinking about yourself, it comes from thinking about them. And you remember how they need to be led, you can change your behavior to match what they need. And then once you give them what they want, you can then help them become who they need to become.

If you’re thinking about yourself and how you’re feeling, most of the time you’re going to be wrong. Because as a leader, it’s not about you. There’s a difference between leading yourself, which is very important, and leading others. If your role is to lead others, if you’re thinking about yourself, you’re thinking wrong. In order to feel better, and to change your actions, you just have to start thinking about other people, thinking about their wants and needs, then things usually write the course after that.

Leadership is different kinds of conversations.” #talk #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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34: Leaders with Heart Understand that They Must Truly Connect with Their People First to Build Trust

On this podcast episode, Heather welcomes Joe Kwon on the show to discuss his leadership style, a time when he was not the best version of himself and some of his key principles in life.


By listening in on this episode with Joe, you might feel like you are listening to a sage. Enjoy!

Key takeaways:

  • While we can learn different body language or communication techniques, it is more important to connect with people deeply beforehand for those techniques to take hold.
  • Sometimes, in order to take the fight out of someone, don’t fight back. Allow them to vent and be heard
  • Often, once we allow people to voice concerns on one topic, their actual concerns reveal themselves.
  • Ego can be good as a leader. The issue is whether the ego is focused just on “me” or on “we” as well.
  • Acknowledge your people in a sincere way without needing or wanting anything from them.
  • You can accomplish amazing things by changing yourself first. 

Joseph Kwon’s Full BIO

Joseph Kwon is an Associate Director at KPMG International, whose global network of independent member firms offer audit, tax and advisory services in 155 countries. 


He provides privacy and cross-border guidance to meet client and regulatory requirements while facilitating business needs. His experience includes online and organizational privacy, data breach, anti-corruption and social media.


 Joseph is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Georgetown University Law Center and a member of the NY and NJ Bar. A student of Aikido and shameless consumer of self-help books, his passion is coaching others on career advancement, public speaking, and leadership skills. 


The Universal Principle

This key thing has been around before people started talking about them. 

What you see is depending on what industry you are in, or what philosophy you are following, or what country you are in. You’ll see that this thing is expressed slightly differently for every area. But the underlying principle is always the same.  So you can go into a sales or leadership training and they’ll teach you all sorts of things. But in my mind the universal principle behind all of that is just the principle of connection. If you want to take a person to change their mind, so they make a decision that earns your company revenue, that doesn’t happen unless you connect with that person. 

Great leaders have an ability to connect with large and diverse groups of people and get them move in the right direction. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Essentially, leadership is getting people to move from one spot to another spot. Click To Tweet

Putting Off Steam

I told this story many times, unfortunately, I’ll be telling it for a long time. 

I was hired at a management type level and I had reports underneath me. It was probably one of my first official management type positions where I was managing people in title, not just leading by just being around. 

I came on board. I definitely wasn’t as emotionally intelligent. I had all these great ideas about how to improve things, how to improve them and I wasn’t really aware how poorly I was leading the team and probably how much damage I was doing to sort of their belief or willingness to follow me.

So I arranged a meeting with them. I went into this meeting and I’m thinking, “I’ve been screwing things up already. If I go in there and just do what I naturally want to do, it will probably just make things worse, right?” So I needed a different approach. 

When someone has an issue, instead of trying rebut or argue it, just try to see it from their side and just agree with it. Not that they’re right, but agree in the sense that you understand why they might have that perspective and it’s normal for them to have that.

Over the course of me just diffusing and just trying to see it from their perspective, and  apologizing where I really felt I should apologize where I did something wrong and didn’t realize it, they kind of ran out of steam.

And this one person said, “We think you really don’t respect and appreciate all the years of service and knowledge that we bring.” So that was the problem they have with me– the way I’m walking around as new manager, try this and that. 

So what I said to them was, “I really appreciate all of you. Maybe I haven’t been doing a good job of showing it, but I learned so much from all of you and I do really appreciate all the things that you’ve done for this company. So thank you.” 

There’ll come a point where you’ll feel the mood shift, where people will actually bring out what’s really bothering them because of the symptoms have been dealt with. Click To Tweet

When your ego is less involved, it creates a much more productive and helpful teamwork, collaboration and way of thinking. Click To Tweet

Going Deeper

If you want to reconnect to people it’s pretty easy. Stop thinking about yourself so much. Think about the other person and that could take various manifestations. It could be a kind word. It could be taking them out to lunch.  I like to reach out to people that I manage or work with when I don’t need anything from them. Just saying, “Hey, how are you doing? I don’t need anything from you. I just want to see what you’re up to.” And maybe they need something from me. That concept of thinking about the other person creates so much stronger connection. When someone comes to you because they want something, does that really create a great connection for you? Usually not. Usually you start to run in the other direction.  If you think about the other person and acknowledge them in a pure, unselfish way, there are various things that you can do and most of them don’t really cost any money and very little time that can reestablish a connection. And if repeated over time, it is really what builds friendship, trust or collaboration. 

Stop thinking about yourself too much. Think about others too. Click To Tweet

We cannot put ego completely in the closet because we need some of it in order to be effective leaders, but it needs to be centered on ‘we.’ Click To Tweet


Connect: (https://www.linkedin.com/in/joekwonjoe/

Blog: www.joekwonjoe.com

Coaching: http://www.joekwonjoe.com/coaching/

Podcast: www.patreon.com/whyitworks

To whom are you passing the torch?

Mentorship, leadership development

[pullquote align=center]

The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.
John Maxwell



The other day, I watched a beautiful ceremony at my son’s school, which was a wonderful symbol of the transfer of leadership. This school is Kindergarten thru 8th grade, and this would be the final full week of school and an all-school gathering for the 8th graders. We knew we would see awards, shed some tears, and say our almost-goodbyes, but I was not quite prepared for the final message.


Each 8th grader stood up and lined up in a row in front of the audience with candles in hand. A teacher went by to light each of their candles, creating a spark in their eyes. Then, the principal asked the 7th graders to walk up and stand in front of an 8th grader. The 8th graders handed their lit candles to the 7th grader in front of them. Finally, the principal requested that the 7th graders turn to us in the audience and introduced them as the new leaders of the school. These new leaders beamed with pride!




This must have been awe-inspiring for the very small kids. I was an inspired middle-aged woman. This event struck me as something that organizational leaders need to do more often. That is, we must recognize that the key role of a true leader is to hand the torch on to the next bunch. Additionally, we must do a better job of recognizing the heart and effort that goes into the role of leader.


In the case of the 8th graders, all their lower classmates looked up to them over the years. In many ways, they aspired to be like those who stood up front with lit candles in hand. It takes a lot to stand in those shoes. Moreover, it was a great honor for the 8th graders to pass the torch to the next group. They stood there, like only caring leaders can, and gently passed their torches with looks of humility and pride.


People often cringe when I say “manager,” because there is such a negative connotation of managers, but managers can be leaders too.


When we think of “leaders,” we often think of men and women who seek to grow and promote the talents of their people. In fact, it can be argued that one cannot have the title of “leader” without some proof that they passed on knowledge, lifted others up, or empowered others to be their best selves. In this respect, we can’t give ourselves this title. Those who choose to follow us also choose whether we deserve this title.


This 10-minute ceremony reminded me of this awesome truth. Below are 3 powerful ways managers can ensure that they earn the leadership title:


1.       Always have a shadow

The one thing that struck me before the ceremony started is that upper classmen reversed their roles and were walking next to the 7th graders to complete tasks before the ceremony. They were there as mentors and coaches to guide the next leaders to complete tasks independently and  confidently. They really wanted their protégés to succeed. This way, they learned by teaching and the students learned by trying.


If you are truly interested in earning the title of “leader,” you must make sure to have high- potential team members shadow your workday frequently. If we assume that you might move up or move on, it is your responsibility to hand the torch down to those who understand your job and the surroundings.


2.       Plan to be replaced

Many organizations have a weak succession-planning infrastructure. They don’t really plan for promotions or turnovers. Then they are left at a loss when these events happen. As the manager of a team, a department, or a division, do not wait for human resources to initiate succession planning for you. You are the one who seeks to earn the title of “leader.” Take it upon yourself to start locally, start small, and seek out the help.


In the end, those managers who plan to be replaced, either through promotion or separation, are much more likely to be the leader whom others will want to follow.


3.       Look for their gifts

Right before the torch-passing ceremony, a few middle school teachers handed out special awards to a little over a handful of kids. Each award was specially titled after a saint who best represented the recipient of this award.


We are all specially gifted with unique qualities. It is the role of a leader to find the gifts of each of his/her teammates and unleash them. In truth, the most effective and well-known leaders make it their focus to dig deep to uncover all that is great inside the people they lead. Anything short of this relegates these people to managers.


As an aspiring leader, or one who has done the hard work to earn this title, know that your main job is to pass the torch to others so that they, too, can shine. Keep a candle nearby to remind you of this fact.


If you need a little help being the leader your people want and expect from you, enroll in my Employee Loyalty Leader boot-camp. We will work together in a group environment to help you not only grow as a leader, but reveal your best self to create more engaged and loyal employees.

5 ways that organizations can protect their employer brand.

employer branding


In recent weeks, some high-profile organizations have had very negative media, from Facebook to Starbucks to Sun Country Airlines. Unfortunately, the list goes on. In each case, organizational leaders were in a defensive stance. They all found themselves having to apologize for oversights, poor service, and blind faith.

While I have not seen their budgets for external marketing, PR, and branding, I would bet that they allot large sums in these areas. What is obvious, though, based upon their public responses to their business failures, is that they do not have a clue what it means to curate, protect, and promote a positive employer brand.

“Employer brand” is a company’s reputation in a job market as an employer. This is not the same as an organization’s overall corporate brand.

Let’s look at Facebook’s calamity over its customers’ privacy. While I believe that Mark Zuckerberg regrets his company’s actions and inactions, he has failed his customers. He is the chief guy in charge and is responsible for everything that happens at the company he founded. It used to be that Facebook was a cool place to work. If you worked there, you told everyone with great pride. Now, I would venture to guess that Facebook employees are running in the other direction when prospective employees ask them what it’s like to work there. Facebook’s employer brand is tarnished.

Starbucks is one of America’s most celebrated companies for its culture. Yet, criticism around its recent treatment of two casually-dressed black men has been rampant on social media. What did they do in response? Kevin Johnson, Starbucks CEO, met with the two men in private to come up with a “constructive solution.” Additionally, they will close more than 8,000 U.S. company-owned stores “to conduct racial-bias training to address implicit bias & prevent discrimination.” While I do think they are doing all the right things in the aftermath of this media crisis, if one employee acts counter to their brand, how strong was it?

Sun Country has issues with customer service. There is no way to paint a pretty picture there. Sun Country stranded 250 passengers in Mexico and made them find their own way home. After the negative media coverage, they reversed by offering to pay them for their tickets and expenses. What many might not know is that Sun Country laid off 350 employees just two months prior to this event. Do you think their employees have a positive outlook about the company? Would they promote the brand? Probably not.

Here are 5 ways that employers can protect their employer brands:

  1. Hire right

Let’s be clear. Organizations are made up of people. Hiring the right people is the best defense against a tarnished employer brand. If they don’t come through the door, then there is a much lower chance that they can damage the brand you have built. Whether it be the employee who called 911 at Starbucks, or the executive leaders who decided to strand passengers at Sun Country without blinking an eye, they likely represent a portion of the workforce with perspectives that are counter to your employer brand. Ben Walker, Founder & CEO of Transcription Outsourcing added,

[pullquote align=center]

After trying probably around 20 different methods of hiring and testing our remote staff we were able to work out a really good system of bringing in the right people from the beginning.  Which in the long run helps everyone.  Both our customer and employee retention has gone up as a result of refining our process carefully and intentionally.


Hire right to begin with, and your organization can bypass some of the pain that transpired in these examples.

  1. Treat them right

This will not surprise many reading this. Once you bring in the right people, take care of them. There is nothing that can boost your employer brand more than engaged and loyal employees. These same employees will stick with you through tough times. Even when reorganizations or layoffs are inevitable, if you have done the work to engage and care for your people, they will go out the door taking care of your reputation.

When you treat you current employees with the highest regard, they do the same for your customers and you.

  1. Show enforcement

To let your employees know that you will not accept certain behavior, it’s important to enforce the behavior you expect, even at the highest levels. Do not let one person get away with behavior that is not consistent with your employer brand. This could mean that you have express organizational norms and values, and there are some who violate those.

In the Starbucks example, once they complete the racial-bias training, they must track, monitor, and strictly enforce non-compliance with the learning, lest they end up back in the same place.


  1. Lead by example

If you are reading this, odds are you are empowered to change how your organization manages your employer brand. When we look at who we hire, how we treat them and enforce the right behaviors, we must start with senior leaders. Often, if we pinpoint what went wrong with a failing employer brand, we find that leaders were not leading by example.

Make sure that your leadership development programs, your promotion policies, and your enforcement mechanisms include the executive leaders in your organization. You will not only ensure a stronger employer brand, you will maintain organizational trust.

  1. Audit brand consistently

There is no “perfect” company. All organizational leaders will make mistakes. Front-line team members are removed from people who put organizational policies in place. Many executive leaders are too disconnected from their front-line employees and their customers.

This is exactly why organizations need to take the time to audit their employer brand against expectations and against customer, employee, and shareholder perceptions. They must look at the current state often. This consistent look at who you say you are and who you really are is crucial to protecting your employer brand.

If you are not clear on how to do this, seek help. Do not leave your employer brand to chance. In a competitive talent market, you cannot afford to.


Thank you for reading this article. Curate and protect what you have built. If not, you are leaving your employer brand in the hands of others.

If you liked this article and found it helpful, please do Share it and Like it.

How full is your leadership trust account (Part 2)




[This is the second of a 2-part series on leadership trust accounts. You can find the first article HERE. I highly recommend you start there and then come back to this piece]?


In the first part of this series, I referred to communication and appreciation as the first two ways organizational leaders can fill their leadership trust accounts. This last part highlights the importance of follow-up and follow-through, and being fair and inclusive.


3. Follow through and follow up

There are very few things that can break down trust and deplete your leadership trust account more than failing to do what you said you would do.


I often find that many leaders are not purposely misleading their team members. Instead, they get busy and distracted by tactical daily duties and forget to circle back around to update their team on course changes.


Following up is a way to show them that you were listening when they were speaking, or when you made promises to move in a certain direction. You go back to them after a conversation to confirm they were heard and you are acting. Following through is a way to build dividends by acting in a way that is consistent with your words. Doing both is a prime way to build trust with your people. It is the sign of an integrity-based leader.

4. Be fair and inclusive

  • Hold everyone accountable for their actions

When I read through survey comments or facilitate employee focus groups, I often find that they perceive an unfairness in accountability. Some report that their coworkers get away with a lot more, because they are “friends” with the boss. Still others recall instances where coworkers obviously dropped the ball and nothing was done to ensure it would not happen again.

Organizational leaders inside and outside of human resources should sit down to evaluate their practices around accountability. Additionally, it is crucial to make sure that what the organization expects is also enforced evenly, no matter the position one holds.

  • Offer the same perks, benefits, and opportunities

Fairness is the cornerstone of the psychological contract that exists between employer and employee. Organizational leaders can demonstrate fairness by offering the same perks and benefits to all employees. When an employee decides to join an organization, they do so expecting that the work they do will afford them fair and equal treatment.

This does not mean that all employees should get the top bonus, if there is such a structure in place. What it does mean is that the process by which bonuses are earned is transparent and easy to understand.

The same holds true for promotions and career paths. Establish a clearly defined and open process for how and when team members can move along the path. When organizational leaders hold this process close to their chest, they deplete their leadership trust accounts in ways they might not expect.


This was the last of a 2-part series on leadership trust accounts. I am grateful you read both. I certainly hope that you take these things to heart, because this is from the mouths or keyboards (in case of surveys) of frontline employees.

Trust must be earned and can be lost in an instant. Organizations that do take all these principles to heart and adjust, where necessary, will keep the trust of their people.

Trust is everything.


Please do Share this article if you found it insightful. As always, I would be thrilled to read your feedback. Thank you for your willingness to see things differently.

If your organizational leaders need a little help in maintaining or regaining the trust of your people, don’t hesitate to reach out.



Enlightened leader series: Interview with a global luxury handbag founder

I am very excited to share my first interview as part of the Enlightened leader series. I will share these interviews monthly to shine a light on enlightened leaders around the world. My questions help uncover leadership styles and strategies and how this impacts the employee experience.


When I refer to “Enlightened leader”, I am referring to a leader who is emotionally intelligent as it relates to their team members, one who understands their shortcomings and works to improve them, and one who looks at the power of TEAM and harnesses that to achieve business results and lift others up.


In this article, you will hear from Ibrahim Al-Haidos, founder of Fursan, a global luxury handbag brand, who hails from Qatar. Enjoy what I found out about his leadership style and what he considers his key areas for improvement and main leadership focus.




Can you tell us a little bit about your business?


I am the founder of Fursan, a global luxury handbag brand.


Fursan is emblematic of strength and gallantry. It embodies the cultural notion that women are the nation’s jewel. We at Fursan believe that our work encapsulates this tradition while showing women the world over our appreciation through offering Dazzah. Its goal is to allow every woman to feel as exceptional as a bride stepping into a new world of splendor and fortune.


Our designs are imbibed with creativity, and yet are well structured to meet the desires of a refined woman. The collection is a distinctive blend of modernity and elegance and is impeccable for all occasions. The material for each piece has been handpicked to bring out the light and mystique of a Fursan woman, who stands out in the crowd.


A single artisan works on a single piece of merchandise, thus ensuring the uniformity of design. The final result is a handbag with timeless charm, an indispensable accessory that turns each woman into an icon of elegance and style while showcasing a cultural heritage that is unique to the Arabian Gulf.


2) What are your leadership values?


First and foremost, I want to lead by example. A great leader realizes that the employees are watching his/her every move. The employees will emulate the behaviors of the leader.

Next, I think is critical to show your employees and customers respect. Nobody ever deserves to be put down, belittled, or insulted when they make a mistake. I look at mistakes as a chance to learn, not an opportunity to make someone feel bad about their job.

Great leaders make each employee feel empowered in their position. Treat your employees as experts for the position they’re in.

Last, I always try to show appreciation. Nobody ever wants to work in a thankless environment where their hard work goes unnoticed day in and day out. These employees will eventually leave and go work somewhere else where they feel they have a voice and their work is appreciated.

I like my employees to feel that they belong to the company, and the company is part of them, make them love it and feel like it’s theirs, and not treat them as transit passengers who will come and go and can be easily replaced.


RELATED: Employee Loyalty Leader boot-camp for corporate leaders.


3) What do you do to continually improve your leadership skills?


In 2016, I completed an MBA of “Specialized Master in Business Unit Management” at HEC Paris. One of the focuses of the program was developing leadership skills. I received some very high-level leadership training there that has helped define my leadership style.

However, that was two years ago now. I believe in lifetime learning, and that certainly extends to evolving as a leader. I continue to work with mentors who are impressive leaders themselves. I also consume a lot of content from thought leaders, and one of the topics I like to follow is leadership. I read blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch videos from other prominent leaders in business and entrepreneurship.

As an entrepreneur, I have a tendency to want to move too fast. I want to get it done and move on to what’s next. However, when you’re a leader of a team, you can’t expect everyone to work at the same pace as you. You must learn to be flexible with the way your team works best, and that isn’t always necessarily with the accelerator pressed to the floor.

I want to continue to empower more women by creating additional job opportunities for them at Fursan. We believe that women are the crowning jewel of every society, and we make our products for them. So, it only makes sense that we have as many women working for us as possible.

To empower them, I must be able to inspire them. So I am constantly working on my communication skills. I’ve seen so many leaders talk to their employees in ways that tear them down and make them feel insignificant. I always strive to communicate with my employees in a way that inspires them and builds them up.



As you can see, Ibrahim is definitely in the Enlightened Leader category. He focuses much of his time on improving his own leadership skills so that he can be better for the team that looks to him for such leadership. He used words like communication, empowerment, inspire, appreciation to demonstrate why his team members might follow him.

Enlightened leaders are in all corners of the globe. Let’s all take Ibrahim’s lead!


Thank you for reading this article. If you think others might benefit from this, please do SHARE and LIKE it. I always love to receive feedback or comments from readers. So, please do that in the comments.

If you want to make sure you receive all of my future articles in this series, go Here and subscribe to my Sunday Newsletter and download a free chapter of my book too!

Cheers to Enlightened Leadership!!:)


Learning more than we teach.


leadership development
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Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.-Benjamin Franklin


This last week, I was blessed to spend time with a group of leaders in Washington in my first ever Employee Loyalty Leader boot camp. I was so excited to embark on this journey with them. I knew that they would learn a lot. I knew that they would experience mindset shifts. I didn’t quite grasp how much I would learn. Here are some of my own personal takeaways from that boot camp:

Leave room for discovery


I put a lot of thought and planning into the creation of this boot camp. As any instructor who also creates curriculum, I am quite proud of the final product. Having said that, I noticed that this amazing group of leaders sought to collaborate with their team members just as much as they wanted to learn from all of my wonderfully-designed content. The event was beautiful, because I  veered off topic to maximize their time with me and one another. This flexibility allowed the leaders to receive the full benefit of the learning and team-building opportunity.


Showing more of ourselves helps us all learn more


As a facilitator, we can sometimes come off as a “know-it-all” on the topics we are facilitating. Participants may also fight their vulnerability in front of their team and own manager when participating in team-building events. What I discovered is that showing more of me and admitting my past mistakes inside of the group, allowed for much more learning. When we show more of ourselves, it allows others to do the same!


Dig deep to reveal the truth


Sometimes, we all want to stay away from tthe unknown. We steer clear of the unexpected, because we are not sure what we will find. I look at leadership exploration from a different lens. The more that I help participants dig deep into what makes them uncomfortable, or reveals a challenge they may not want to reveal, the more that we all can dive into solutions, together! That happened at this boot camp, and it was touching to see how revealing the truth inside a scenario revealed how much the team cared for one another. It was priceless and unexpected!


Create the space for all to teach


I admit that I have a healthy ego. I am a trainer and facilitator. If I did not have confidence in the content or my own style, I would be pretty awful! Nonetheless, I embrace the opportunity to open up spaces within my teaching for others to share their expertise, experiences and thoughts. This worked very well during my time with this bonded group of leaders, because by creating that space, trust was built among all of us. Not one of us was better than the other. While I was there to facilitate their learning, I took away more because of this space.

Concluding thoughts

This experience is what I envisioned and more. I received so much more from it than I thought possible. I could sense that the participants experienced a mindset shift and this is the main purpose behind the work that I do.

Employee experience is 90% about emotions and feelings. Leaders choose which emotions they unleash inside their teams. I am honored to have a hand in instilling this concept in their minds and giving them strategies to bring it to life.

Here is what the executive leader had to say about my time with his team. I am thrilled at the response.

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Thank you so much for the very productive and engaging session. The discussion really resonated with the team and they are energized to continue the momentum we started to make an impact in the organization. I am very pleased by the collective response by the group managers to rally around one another’s staff engagement challenges and we will collectively support one another in making positive change. Again, thanks for a wonderful and engaging session.


I certainly hope that my learning experience resonates with you. I reveal it to you with the deepest humility and most exhilarating honor. Please do Share it and Like it if you do, in fact, like it. As always, I would love to hear from you in the comments.


If you think that your organization could benefit from this Employee Loyalty Leader boot camp, I would be thrilled to work with you and your team(s) as well!! Just reply to this email with any questions and or go HERE.


Many blessings to you!