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

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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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125: Leaders with Heart Course Correct Themselves and Others with Care

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In this episode, Heather interviews Curtis Martin, CEO of FOCUS about his drive to lead, his leadership style, his struggle with patience, and a time when he took his eye off the business and abdicated responsibility.

Key takeaways:

  • Don’t abdicate responsibility but be there to guide people.
  • Show the balance of care and strength. 
  • Take the long view when leading so that you can create tension for the long term goal benefits.
Don’t miss this insightful episode!

Curtis Martin is the founder and CEO of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), one of the fastest-growing college outreach apostolates in the Catholic Church. 

FOCUS was founded in 1998 as a national outreach to college students on campus. Starting with just two missionaries on one campus, FOCUS now has hundreds of full-time missionaries serving tens of thousands of college students on campuses throughout the United States. FOCUS is working to play a vital role in the New Evangelization called for by Pope Saint John Paul II. 

Curtis Martin holds a master’s degree in theology and is the author of the best-selling book, “Made for More.” Curtis is likewise the co-author of “The Real Story: Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible” with Dr. Edward Sri and “Boys to Men: The Transforming Power of Virtue” with Dr. Tim Gray.

In 2004, Curtis and his wife, Michaelann, were awarded the Benemerenti Medal by Pope Saint John Paul II for their outstanding service to the Church.  In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Curtis as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council of the New Evangelization. Curtis and Michaelann live in Westminster, Colorado. They have been blessed with nine children.

The Prodigal Son

The story that Jesus told of the prodigal son was my life. I was blessed to have parents who love me. The table is set for me. It was a great life, but I wildly squandered it growing up. I was a train wreck when I was 18. I realized that I have only one life and I can live differently. So, I decided to come back to my center and live.

Sometimes people walk through life saying, “I could do whatever I want. I’m not hurting anybody.” In truth, you might not be hurting anyone but you are supposed to do something to help people. 

I cannot fix everything. But I can fix something. – Curtis Martin #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Ripple Effect

The key is create a ripple effect of impact by God’s grace—not just setting things better for others, but to teach them how to do it for others whom could also be taught how to do it for their people. 

With this, you’re also able to impact people you’ll never meet by paying it forward. This is a better way to live life than simply avoiding hurting people.

Some people believe in life after death, and some people don’t. But whatever it is, you’re done. All you have is a memory, but that memory lives on.

We live in a world with radical poverty. There’s breakdown of families, and marriages and children are in need. There are more people in slavery right now than ever in the history of the world, whether it is the typical slavery of work, sex slavery, or drug abuse.

You could spend the rest of your life addressing these issues and making people’s lives better, or walk through life hoping not to hurt anyone. I think that the former option, choosing to live for others is such a compelling invitation to form meaning and purpose in people’s lives. That’s a really exciting way to live and to help other people to live.

People start to come alive when they realize that they could walk through life and set things better. – Curtis Martin #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetFriendship is a wonderful ointment—in the midst of life, you are sharing life. – Curtis Martin #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

On Friendship and Parenting

I’ve worked to establish friendships with the people that I lead. It’s been an honor to not just work with them but also to be invited to weddings and to their homes. You may throw an elbow or step on a toe unintentionally, but friendship is an ointment that heals that wound. I’ve been blessed to work with great people

Many of us are parents. I am working with a 12 year old, and I have an impatience with parenting. It’s a slow walk, and I know they’re not going to be living in a mature life overnight. 

My goal is not to be a buddy, but to be a coach. We can be buddies 20 years from now, but I want to be friends with you a million years. So, I do not care whether I lose a little bit of credibility because I take phones away.

As a father, I have to play the long game all the time. Sometimes it’s three steps forward, one step back, and that’s okay as long as we continue to make progress.  But remember the goal we’re aiming for.

We are patient with one another, even in failures because we’re willing to lose our battle. This is not a war against people. We aim to win people’s minds, hearts, and trust to care for them and help them overcome obstacle that keep them from experiencing lasting joy.

Great vision and great investment covers for impatience and imperfections. – Curtis Martin #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetWe're always grateful, but never satisfied. – Curtis Martin #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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124: Leaders with Heart Find a Way to Be the Solution

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In this episode, Heather joins listeners in a personal journey during COVID-19, the racial divide, and writing a book.

Key takeaways:

  • Be the solution to the problems in our world. Don’t bail out from taking responsibility.
  • You are worthy of your leadership. You are good enough for others to care for. 
  • We can all choose to be unstuck post-COVID-19.
Prepare your ears for this wonderful episode!

Updates on the Book

I am excited to report that I already finished the first draft of the book and I was able to give it to the publishers for sending out to reviewers. Now I am getting feedback. This gives me the opportunity to look back at my manuscripts with a fine-toothed comb and start to work on the changes based on their review.

Not all of it was awful. Most of it were very insightful. No one said that I need to go back to the drawing board. I feel good that that did not happen. But I have work to do to get that done.

We cannot control everything. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Black Lives Matter

One thing that continues to happen throughout our histories is the treatment towards people of color, predominantly Black Americans but also other races. When we think and learn more about it, we have to stop seizing the opportunity in a negative sense, of treating people with darker skin as lesser people. Historically that is how it has gone and it has been opportunistic and gearing towards selfish interests.

We cannot change the system, the processes, and how America is formed. Some of us might have the power and control to do it, but some of us have the ability to control our mindsets and how we think of all humans, including people before us, first. How are we supposed to be acting with them? How can we show up and stand up?

What we must think about is the role that we play in the process and in the solution. Know that you have and possess a certain amount of power, authority and ability to show up differently, to be antiracist, and to support all humans: the people, the brothers and sisters around you. 

So I ask you to stand solidly in your shoes, take your responsibility, and be accountable for your own things. You must not get completely overwhelmed with every single thing in the world.

We can control lots of things and we can influence many. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetYou possess a certain amount of power, authority, and ability to show up differently and be anti-racist. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Art of Caring

One of the things that came in my heart when I was writing the book is the title, the Art of Caring Leadership: Why Leading with Heart Uplifts Teams and Organizations. This is based on this podcast and all the people I have interviewed.

I adore every single guest I had on my show. I have experienced so much richness and value, and I didn’t set out to write this book when I wrote this podcast. But little ways in, I realized that I have got to share these people with the world. 

We have to stop treating people with darker skin as lesser people. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetI find great excitement and thrill by highlighting and uplifting others. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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123: Leaders with Heart are Co-Owners of a Vision with Those They Lead

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Craig Miller, President of FOCUS or Fellowship of Catholic University Students, about his leadership style, where his drive to lead comes from, his focus on minimizing his ego and much more!

Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t focus on serving yourself but serving others.
  • Decide whether or not you are claiming positions out of ego.
  • Bring people along with you by spending time with them, and help them see their role in a vision.
  • Search for those who have an ownership mentality and not a hireling mentality.
  • Try to harness a common mission.

Craig Miller is the president of FOCUS. 

In 2003, after a career in Silicon Valley that included leading sales and cooperative marketing for Cisco’s global accounts, Craig accepted Curtis’ invitation to help manage the operational needs created by FOCUS’ growth. Since then, Craig has overseen all aspects of operations, administration, development, and finance as FOCUS continues to grow and develop on more than 100 campuses today.

He lives in Genesee, Colorado with his wife, Melissa, and four of their six children.

Student of Leadership

I’m a student who is always in a mode of learning. I think one of my greatest fears is to watch things in your life happen to other people. I think it will only happen if you let it, like thinking that you have arrived and stopped at being a student of leadership. There’s just so much to learn.

I am blessed with working with a lot of young people in the work that I do. There’s so much to learn there, and hopefully the journey continues. I am always a willing participant, and I will take up as much as I’m allowed to.

Get a drive from a more pure place. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Building People

A lot of people who work on missions have personal goals that align really well. With these people, it’s more like brothers and sisters in a band together for a common purpose. It changes the way you perceive your staff and how you manage them.

But I struggled with why it isn’t good enough in itself. Why is having people with a great passion or temperament for the type of work they’re going to do not good enough? Why can’t we just let it work there? If things aren’t really working out for them, or they’re not really thriving in the selected work, why don’t we just leave them alone?

You owe it to your people to challenge them to be the best in what they’re doing and to give them a sense of pride, being, success and achievement towards the things they believe in. Nobody wants to flounder. Nobody wants to be left somewhere where 10 years later, they look back and say, “I’m not sure. What did I do? I didn’t make a difference, and I don’t feel like I learned a lot. Nobody ever challenged me.”

Find that place within a very loving, not for profit environment or find that place where you’re calling people to whatever God has gifted them with—talent, virtues, experiences—and help them plug those in so they have full meaning to them.

If I have a particular vision, I know how to get there, and other people want to come along, that feels like a full invitation for leadership. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet I found my voice strongest when something is wrong and unfair in areas of justice. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Owning the Vision

I think it’s always good to be patient, sit back, spend time with people, and bring them to your vision that’s driving your passion. Take the time to communicate it, let them have the drive and then move forward with them.

It’s so important to not put yourself in a relational position with others while you’re heading on a common mission together, or whatever that might be. I think it’s very important to create a separation, in a sense that it’s your vision. You are the owner, and they support, or they are the laborers in this vision. 

I once heard a great talk on an owner mentality versus a hireling mentality. If you want to establish a group of hirelings, they have a mercenary mindset. So, they’ll do what you ask them to do.

It’s better to build owners. You could give them things to own and really allow ownership mentality and energy to come alive in them. Then bring that ownership in their hearts, all into a common mission. With that, you’re in a much better place.

You have to change the way you think about everything. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetYou owe it to your people to challenge them to be the best in what they're doing. – Craig Miller #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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122: Leaders with Heart That We All Get Better One Step at a Time

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Matt Sweetwood, CEO of LUXnow, on his leadership style, his strong drive to lead, and where it comes from. He also shares how he treats his employees like family, and his very profound story of adversity and rebirth.

Key takeaways:

  • When things go wrong in life and business, focus on fixing one thing at a time while looking forward.
  • Sometimes when we are easy on team members whose performance is short, we enable them to fail. Then, that failure becomes our own.
  • Set the bar high, live it and then raise it once your team members meet the bar.
  • Regarding challenges, this too shall pass if you make it pass.
  • Succeed one step at a time.
Hope you don’t miss this episode. Listen and learn!

Matt Sweetwood is the CEO of LUXnow – the marketplace for luxury autos, homes and yachts. 

He is an internationally known professional speaker, author and life coach. With over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience, Matt has been credited with the reinvention of the modern camera store. However, his greatest achievement is having raised five successful children to adulthood as a single dad. 

He is a frequent TV and publication contributor and has a #1 best-selling book: “Leader of the Pack: How a single dad of five led his kids, his business and himself from disaster to success.”

Success, A Habit

When success is a habit, you’re just driven to make sure to end the day more successful than before. Finding success is what makes me complete as a human being. If I fail at something, I really take a deep look at it and try to overcome. If there’s something in your life that you want badly enough, you’re going to make it happen.

I want to be successful. I don’t want to be a failure in front of my kids. When I retire someday, I don’t want to be sitting there, figuring out how I’m going to pay the bills. Drive for success comes from within.

Being able to feel somebody and put yourself in their circumstance actually helps you lead them. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Tough Love

I always treat my staff like my family. I have written hundreds of articles, and some of the popular ones talked about how similar leadership in business is with parenting at home. In fact, one of my articles that was featured best of the day on LinkedIn was, “What’s the difference between great parenting and great leadership?” My conclusion, of course, is that they are the same.

I think sometimes I’m too easy on my staff. I am too humanistic with them. Sometimes, in a CEO position, you have to be a little more ruthless. Every time I say that to myself, the name Mike Bloomberg comes to mind. He had a reputation for being ruthless. He has a long standing reputation of throwing resigning people out of the window and never speaking with them. But he became a billionaire.

I’m not saying this that I want to be like them, but I just think it’s an interesting study on leadership—to find the balance between having your staff love you and hate you, and what’s the right mix to find the most success. It’s something that I deal with all the time.

I was the good guy. My door is always open. I deal with my staff on a personal basis. But I sometimes wonder whether I should have been a whole lot harder. Maybe I would have found more success or more balance, I don’t know.

If I want it badly enough, I'm going to win. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetYou cannot be successful unless you're in good shape. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Raise Your Level

Sometimes when you’re too easy on an employee you enable them to fail. I think being too easy on a poorly performing employee enables their failure. Then the failure becomes yours. 

You have an obligation as a leader to correct people obviously in a kind way, never in a demeaning way. If you don’t do that, then the failure is yours.

Your job as a leader is to never let your level, go to the level of your staff. You have to bring them to your level. The goal is, you bring everybody to your level. When they get to yours, raise your level then bring them up again. That’s how you build the biggest and best of enterprises.

Always keep pushing yourself to be better. Never allow your standards, your morals and your ideology in any way to be compromised. Your principles always have to stay in in charge. 

If you’re the leader, you’re leading the company. You’re responsible for failure or success. Make sure you don’t fail because you lowered your level. Simple as that.

Let us start fixing things one by one. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetJust keep going and enjoy it. – @MSweetwood #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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121: Leaders with Heart Accept the Truth of Their Leadership

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

Key Takeaways:

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

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

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

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

Learning, Empowering

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

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

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

Inner Compass

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

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

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

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

It's vital for leaders today to get feedback and really try not to work independently. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetI am not going to be an expert in everything, even though I want to be. – Kristin Fox #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Embracing Failures

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

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

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

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

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

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120: Leaders with Heart Don’t Seek Perfection in Themselves

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Stephen Christopher about his leadership style and where his drive to lead come from. He also shares about the time when he allowed himself to hold onto an employee who was not open to change, what he did to come out of that circumstance, and what he does now to stop himself for doing that. 

Key takeaways:

  • Set aside time to be with people who just need to talk.
  • Look for greatness in people, but they have to want to improve.
  • Be a student of learning.
  • All your people to be their greatest selves.
Jumpstart your week by listening to this wonderful episode. Enjoy!

Stephen Christopher is the founder of a multi million marketing agency, Wit Digital, that serves home service companies. With a huge passion in intuitive guiding and coaching, He has been able to inspire people to become more than they ever thought possible. 

Stephen helps home service companies grow their business through proper digital marketing strategies customized based on their objectives. He also inspires leaders to learn that they’re in control of their lives and how to harness the power of creation to choose the life they desire to live. 

Stephen also helps business owners exit the day to day of their business while still owning the company, as well as inspiring them to become more than they ever thought possible. 

Student of Leadership

I’ve started a couple companies over the last 15 years and I’ve been running teams really ever since then. I’ve been leading groups of people for well over a decade, but at the same time, I feel like I’m still young, every single day. 

I’m still learning because there’s always something new that comes up—like new situations where I can apply everything I have learned in the past but also learn something new from it. I guess, I’m just a student of leadership.

Be honest with your teams. They don't expect you to be perfect in every single moment. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Building Up

I don’t believe that I’ll ever be a graduated professional. It’s a constantly evolving learning experience, especially based on how the world outside changes. 

We’re so far different than we were 10 years ago in the world. As those things continue to evolve and change, there’s never one answer that’s going to fit. And, there’s no finish line.

If somebody comes with a problem or an issue, or maybe they’re feeling great, oftentimes what they say the problem is, is really not necessarily the issue nor the root of it. 

That’s why I’m always trying to figure out the more of the root, so we can address something deeper and apply them in a lot more areas. It takes a while to build up that level of trust to where your team will actually tell you the truth. It can take years. But it’s well worth it.

Be gentle on yourself. Take into consideration lessons we can learn from the things we did and how we can do better next time. But that’s it. It’s purely factual information. There’s no need to tie heavy emotions to it because that just drains our energy. 

Also, it makes us a much less effective leader. Nobody wants to go to work or be led by who is down and not being the best version of themselves that they can.

We need every leader to get a little bit better every single day to make the world a better place. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetThere's nothing you can change about where you are today because the past has already been written. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The First Piece

When talking about why, mine is to inspire people to become more than they ever thought possible. Leadership is like “I know that you can. I know you are capable more than you even are aware, and I’m going to offer you the ability to start to tease that out a little bit.”

The most exciting thing for me is having somebody come to us. You hear some leaders say like, “Oh, if only they would try a little harder. If only. How can I get them to work a little harder.”

People making those statements believe that if their people would work a little harder, they would give them a little bit more. But it’s the opposite.

You must give them more, then they will create the things that you’re looking for—better client relationships better output, more creativity and more innovation. You’ve got to put the first piece.

We're all in this human experience. None of us have all of the answers. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetWe're just so hard on ourselves, but it doesn't do us any good. – Stephen Christopher #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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119: Leaders With Heart Understand Who They Are And Use It To Lead Well

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In this episode, Heather speaks to Karen Weeks about her leadership journey and the way she sees how the differences in leadership styles impact the way we lead. She also shares more about her drive to lead and interesting lessons she learned when she left a team member out of an important meeting:

Key takeaways:

  • Collaborate with team members to ensure you aren’t making assumptions about their future opportunities.
  • Understand your unique style and how that helps you lead better.
  • Our mistakes inform our future decisions. Don’t hide from them, but embrace them.
  • Feedback is a gift.
Start your week right by listening to this wonderful episode. Enjoy!

Over fifteen years ago, Karen made a career change from theatre to HR and never looked back!  She found her passion in helping organizations build amazing cultures while guiding individuals to find success in their careers.  Karen is a results-focused, strategic partner, whose drive is to help companies build and scale their teams and culture to meet their business goals.  Her passion is around talent development, organizational effectiveness, change management and helping individuals build fulfilling careers.   She has been asked to speak on several panels, podcasts and serve as a guest writer on change fatigue, bringing a company’s values to life, scaling culture without sounding like “HR” and overall talent development.  She recently published her first book, “Setting the Stage: A Guide to Preparing for any Feedback Conversation” which is now available on Amazon.  Recently, she was named one of the 2020 Notable Women in Talent by Crain’s New York Business.

Currently, Karen serves as the VP of People at Ordergroove, where she is building the people strategy and focuses on maintaining a strong culture during the growth stage of the company, including winning Best Companies to Work in New York two years in a row!  Additionally, she can be found teaching management and HR strategy courses at Baruch College and as a professional development coach with GoCoach.  Karen’s academic credentials include an MS in Human Resources Development from Villanova University and a BA in Theatre Arts from Elon University.   She lives in NYC with her husband of almost 20 years and her furry babies.

Realizing Leadership

I felt like I kind of fell into leadership. I think it is partially because of being in an HR role. You’re always working with other people and helping them in their journey, so you sort of lose track of your own. All of a sudden, I would realize that now I’m the leader. In the moment of struggle, I would say, “Wait, I am actually the leader in this situation.” I’m the one people are looking up to.

I love what I do. I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years now. I truly see myself as a leader for the whole organization, whether it’s my direct team or the other folks.

You don't have to be a manager to be a leader. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Bettering Leadership

You don’t have to be a manager to be a leader. A lot of engineers don’t want to be managers, so they become architects or things that are just much more senior individual contributors. In those roles descriptions, we would talk about team leader, culture champion, and things that we actually look for in our people managers. Yet, it was important for them to have those qualities, even if they didn’t manage people. It took a while for me to realize that it actually applies to me as well.

Anybody can be a leader. It’s more about knowing your style and how you’re going to use that to be a better leader. It’s important to know your styles. Maybe someone more introverted or more analytical can’t be or will be a better leader than someone else. Do it in your own style.

Back in the day, having feelings and talking to people like humans was a bad thing. It’s supposed to be business only. Either because they were afraid or they were misunderstood. Actually, being human and showing that side of you is what will make you a better leader.

Vulnerability, approachability, empathy, being willing to try something and fail, and try again are what’s making good leaders these days. That’s all based on who you are as a person and how you think about other human beings.

We are all humans in this journey together. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetIf we are putting someone in a manager role, they need to have the maturity to have tough conversations. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Bringing People

I’m very approachable and supportive. I want you to see me as a human. At the end of the day, we are humans coming together, all with the same goal. I want to get to know you. 

I want you to be able to talk to me about things that are going on in your life. I want to know what’s important to you, whether that is in your career, or in your personal life. How can I support and help you get the things that are important to you?

In general, I did not want that spotlight. Looking back at my childhood, I realized I was always trying to bring people together. I wanted people to have a shared experience or shared journey for them to enjoy it. I think that’s a lot of what leadership actually is—bringing people together, supporting them, helping them achieve their goals.

Most people will rather hear tough or confusing stuff, because when you hear nothing you fill in the gaps with negativity every single time. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetVulnerability, approachability, empathy, being willing to try something and fail, and try again are what's making good leaders these days. – @Weeks_24_7 #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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118: Leaders With Heart Know That They Must Do The Right Thing At All Times

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Wes Struebing, Founder and President at Logistics Titans about his very direct and caring leadership style, where his drive to lead comes from, and some great nuggets for all leaders to move forward in their leadership.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you cannot or are not helping those you lead, you must leave or change your position.
  • You are either green and growing or you are dying. Which do you choose?
  • Doing the right thing is the only thing to do.
Don’t miss your chance, leaders with heart! Listen and learn!

Wes Struebing is the founder and president at Logistics Titans. 

After more than 30 years of being in the logistics industry, Wes learned a thing or two about moving things around and leading people to do their best and give their best to our clients. Whether it’s in life or business, he believes in one thing: he only wants to be there if he can make it better.

Logistics is his passion. He helps client partners figure out how to minimize loss and expenses with a reverse logistics plan that improve their bottom line and the environment. He knows how to create solutions for high-touch products, minimize cost, and become an extension of the client’s team.

Outside of his professional life, Wes has got a brand new baby. He also likes to cook, watch college football, and travel. 

Green and Growing

There’s a saying that either you’re green and growing, or ripe and rotting. Personally, I think I am green and growing as a leader since I still want to work and get better at it. I am open to being wrong and I want to learn new stuff all of the time. I absolutely learn more from failing than I do at winning. That’s where I am.

In difficult times, like this COVID crisis, I am clear with my team about me not taking a salary, and the rifts this could be to all of us. I tell them we’ll continue to communicate and navigate this the best we can.

If you’re not actively learning, you’re going to be in big trouble. – @wstruebing #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Make it Better

I’ve worked in a family business for a long time. But for the last 22 years I worked in another enterprise. I looked at the way they operate and how they care or did not care about people. I also observed some of the mistakes people have made in the organization. I think that they feel they are building things for themselves.

I live my life by a very simple rule—I want to be in your life as long as I can make it better. When I cannot make your life better, I will get out. That goes for my employees, my clients, and my friends; and it touches every part of my life. 

I am here to try and make your life better. If I can’t, then I won’t do it. Over time, I think this has become contagious. Also, it has thrusted me to this leadership role. You’re in this to make someone’s life better. Following this mantra has given me more gifts personally and professionally.

I just wish everyone would sit back and do the right thing. When in doubt do the right thing because there is no other choice. Just do it.

Life evolves. Things evolve. Right now more than ever, we have to evolve. – @wstruebing #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet My mission is to help. – @wstruebing #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Keeping the Community

Every morning I have an 8 AM Zoom call with my entire team, as well as a 5 PM end-of-the-day call with them. During the call, we’ll go through what we’re going to get done for the day, and what we’ve accomplished at the end of the day. All in a very quick and concise manner.

It has really put me more in touch with everybody in the company. I know more about what goes on with my people right now than I have ever have. Their families are also invited in the meetings. This is one of the ways that we have really kept our sense of community when there’s no office to go to

Early on in my career, I had the tendency to want to do everything myself because I knew no one can do it as well as I could. Until I was able to let that go, and help and teach others how to do things, I wouldn’t be as effective as I am today. Not even close.

Everyone’s going to know it’s not you and the way you really feel. Genuine works. – @wstruebing #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetI am a blind advocate for my customers, regardless of financial gain. – @wstruebing #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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