79: Leaders With Heart Love The People They Lead

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In this episode, Heather speaks directly to listeners about a deeply personal story that reminded her of the importance of loving the people on your team. She outlines the benefits of doing so and she inspires leaders from all walks to care deeply for the people who look up to them for leadership.

Key takeaways:

  • Don’t be afraid to lead with love.
  • Leaders who care deeply create deeply caring employees.
  • Sit with your people and meet them where they are.
  • Leadership is not a cookie-cutter experience. 
  • Meet people where they are.
  • Emotions create loyalty.

Listen and learn!

Deep Caring Love

Recently, a friend of mine posted something on LinkedIn and tagged me as the “amazing leader.” It was a really touching post, but it made me think of another article I have written before. I didn’t realize how long ago it was until I searched for it on LinkedIn. 

In 2014, I wrote an article about why it’s okay to love your employees. I know this is a really hard conversation to have and even a tough one to broach because most people really move away from this idea of love in the workplace. 

I don’t mean love like romantic love but a deep caring love. Actually, I had this kind of love while I was working at my last job position before I decided to go on my own for Customer Fanatix.

Leaders with heart are the ones who make us feel important, and take the time to be with us where we’re at, right there at that moment. - @CustomerFanatix #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

A Walking Example

It’s okay to love your employees. - @CustomerFanatix #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

One day, the manager who brought me in noticed something different. He could see that I was reaching a heightened level of frustration with some of the decisions because I felt completely ignored. He could have let me just swim in that pity for a little bit, but he didn’t. 

He came down without an appointment to my office. He sat down on a chair and said, “I know this is frustrating but we hired you for a reason. You’re here to do what you do best and we want you to do it well. I know that what’s happening is all frustrating, but please do stick with it because we want you to do what you do best.” Then he gave me a smile. I’ve got to tell you that at that moment, I loved that guy.

Today, he already left that position since a lot of the management decisions didn’t align with who he was as a leader, which I greatly respected, but boy did it hurt because he was such a wonderful manager. 

But just recently my heart was really broken for him as his son who was just in his 20’s passed away in his sleep. I really cared about him and I quickly requested the information to make sure I could get to his son’s funeral. When I showed up, I remembered when he cared for me and I wanted to do the same for him. I want to be there for him. When we locked eyes, he looked at me and his eyes said, “Thank you.” But I looked at him back and expressed, “No. Thank you.”

Leaders With Heart

We know those leaders with heart. They’re the ones who make us feel important, and take the time to be with us where we’re at. They don’t delay. They don’t act too political. They don’t put words up. They are humans. They are real. 

When he came down and cared for me, I knew I just want to be there for him, too. Of course those are two different scenarios, a really horrific thing his situation is. But it was him being there for me when I was down and feeling kind of “ugh” that made me want to go to the ends of the earth for him. During that time, I know he needed as many friends as possible to envelope him with love.

Don’t shy away from being that leader who loves your people. Your greatest reward will be your people looking at you with admiration. They will care for you and they will go over and above for you in every initiative you put in front of them. So be that leader with heart.

Most people really move away from the idea of deep caring love in the workplace. - @CustomerFanatix #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet Through your love for your people, you will reap much larger dividends than you would if you focus on moving up in the business or trying to add more accolades. - @CustomerFanatix #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet Your people will run that race with you, right beside you and maybe even in front to make sure that you’re winning. - @CustomerFanatix #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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57: Leaders With Heart Create Psychological Safety For Their Teams


In this episode, Heather speaks with Melissa Ebert about her leadership style, concepts of psychological safety, why self-care is so important and a few challenges she had along the way.

Key takeaways:

  • Get input from your team to understand where they come from.
  • Seek first to understand.
  • Help your people live in their strengths.
  • Make sure to be specific with your people when letting them know about an expected result. They may not fill in the blanks.
  • Hope is not a strategy.
  • Allow your people the space to decompress.
  • Take to time to rejuvenate so that you can be the best for your people.

Melissa Ebert’s Full BIO

Melissa has been to different places learning and serving her community by facilitating youth activities through leadership conferences and summer camps. She worked four years with People to People Student Travel as Head of Admissions for a six-state area meeting wonderful families and educators. 

She presently serves as the Manager of Sponsorships at FOCUS: Fellowship of Catholic University Students. She’s visited 47 states, 5 continents, enjoys meeting great people, working out and trying first-time experiences. She currently resides in Denver, Colorado and deeply enjoys visiting her parents, three sisters, two brother-in-law’s and one nephew in Kansas. 

Collaborative and Empathic 

I don’t intuitively consider myself a leader in the terms of the typical traditional sense of it. I’ve come to realize that we all do need one in some manner, whether it’s official or not in terms of other co-workers. 

I have leadership experience overseeing teams and individuals and I’m also still growing. I’d say I have come to a new level leadership role from an official strategic organizational standpoint.

I am very collaborative and empathic from a leadership standpoint. I want to get inputs from the team. I also try to empathize and understand where they’re coming from, then lay out the best options for ‘win-win-win’ opportunities.

There's a reason that we seek first to understand rather than be understood.  #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Team Growth

Build rapport and respect with your team so that they will feel safe to be vulnerable. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

I think, years ago, I would have been someone who really didn’t want to be leading other people and I would be a better individual contributor. 

But, as I have been getting more experience at taking some leadership roles, I think part of what drives me are the team results. We have accomplished so much more as a team and I am also a team-minded person. Also, you’re building rapport there.

Then the second guiding motivator for me is seeing the growth in the people whom you’re leading. Getting to help them become more in lined with who they’re designed to be and living in their gifts and skills would be a big reason for me.  

To those that I lead, I believe we have enough respect for each other that we know if we bring something up, it’s not attacking the person. It’s actually saying we want what’s best for each other and it’s built on that respect and safety. 

Specifics and Freedom

When I look back over the last 6-8 years of some leadership roles that I have been in, the consistent theme of where I can get better is providing more specific direction and guidance for the requests that I make. 

Sometimes I can be so laissez-faire that I need to be more clear about what the X-results is and maybe providing a little more guidelines along the way.

I found out that there were misunderstandings and a lot of wasted energy on both sides trying to clarify what were needed to be done. It’s a very small thing but it makes sense. 

I think part of that too is, the more specific detail you can give them with the freedom to do it in the way that they need, is more than efficient. Because, if there is something that needs to be done and they’re creative in the way that they do it, then you’re allowing both to happen. 

If there's struggle or a lack of motivation, connect with the why. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet Hope is not a strategy. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet There's a reason why we need a mental pause in the afternoon. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


Connect with Melissa on LinkedIn and Twitter

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56: Leaders With Heart Ask The Right Questions To Understand The People They Lead.


In this episode, Heather speaks with Peter Melby, CEO of Greystone Technology, about his leadership style, the reason he likes to lead, and his unique way of ensuring consistent communication and conversation among the team and the manager. You will learn a ton from this one!

Key Takeaways:

  • Growth comes from insisting on learning and adapting.
  • It’s important to be able to bring mistakes forward to be able to bring great things to the market.
  • Leaders need to connect with people to get to the problem they need to solve.
  • Human nature is our common thread.
  • In order to find out where people really are, leaders must ask the right questions.
  • Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. You have a team.
  • Setting up consistent, objective practices that produce positive emotions in those you lead.
  • Don’t miss the opportunity to have camaraderie in your leadership. It’s easier to do it together.

Peter Melby’s Full BIO

For Peter Melby, he already got his dream job.

Peter currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Greystone Technology and he is passionate to drive the movement for new strategies to provide deeper impact in any way possible rather than  traditional service structures. 

Under his direction, Greystone Technology has been recognized for growth and quality by numerous organizations and institutions. Because of that, he has been awarded as one of the Denver Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2016 along with ColoradoBiz Magazine’s Top 25 Most Influential Young Professionals.

Create with a Purpose

I want to create something that isn’t there. I was always encouraged to create with a purpose. Growing up, I love the idea of construction. But as I look at where my strengths were, building organizationally and doing something in a market that was very foreign became very exciting for me. I’m not necessarily building something I can physically see, but I am building something that no one else has ever done in a space that we fill.

Seeing how the art of creating connects to the science of being methodically successful and bringing those together is a unique trait that most people who grow up without that dichotomy would probably skip over.

There's no arrival point when it comes to leadership. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The Common Thread

It easy to see humans as very conflicted and challenging. But the more that we dig down, we realize we have a common thread that runs between all of us. Seeing the same humanity in each of them shows that the lessons I learned at home can help me be a better leader at work. I think it’s just whether or not we recognize where we are at and how intentional we are about it.

I’ve always had good intentions about wanting to lead the team well and to build a culture. I think everybody does have good intentions.  But if I am going into conversations as ‘the boss,’ and tell everybody how I feel about everything rather than trying to understand first how my people see and criticize themselves, I am missing a huge leadership opportunity.

Leaders just want to see success in things. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

I am still impatient. I still have high standards. I still definitely slip into a self-focused view of trying to assign blame to make myself feel better because I am human and that’s very natural. But the things that I’ve been able to work on in myself to recognize those at times and correct them before they cause damage for so many of us over time is probably the most important lesson that I have learned.

Some people project confidence when they feel insecure. Insecurity breeds an appearance of confidence and arrogance. I hate seeing that. But if I am truly going to take the best approach, it’s not about removing the arrogance. It’s about getting to the bottom of those things.

Psychological Safety

We’ve seen the value in really systemizing our communication within our teams and not around specific projects. In order to build a culture where there’s psychological safety or the ability to share real information, to admit that you don’t know something, to ask for help, to celebrate together, and to show up as a real person and not someone whose defensive or just trying to show the best side of what’s happening — that doesn’t happen overnight. It only happens when there’s consistent practice.

As a technology company, we’ve worked to put a black-and-white system in place for the nuances and all the gray areas of people.

It allows us to practice engaging into the reality of where we’re at and where we and our team can meet. We’ve really worked to bring some of the structure of the conversations that don’t happen naturally, those that we often avoid because we don’t want to create discomfort. 

By doing that consistently, we have practiced it to a point that humanity becomes normal and psychological safety becomes something that is significantly more possible to achieve than if we just left everybody to their own devices. 

No one knows everything. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet
A good IT person solves problems, but a great IT person knows what problems he is solving. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet
I found most of my learning when I was willing to let down that guard and not pretend to be something I’m not. #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


Connect with Peter on LinkedIn

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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!