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Leadership With Heart

Author: Heather R. Younger, J.D.

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Would you like to uncover how Leaders with Heart lead their teams and engage and retain them in the process? Join Heather R. Younger, J.D., the best-selling author of The 7 Intuitive Laws of Employee Loyalty and Founder and CEO of Customer Fanatix as she interviews amazing leaders from all over the world and all walks of life to find out what drives them to be more emotionally intelligent leaders.
158 Episodes
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In this episode, Heather interviews Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, President and CEO of Rose Community Foundation. Heather realized she had to have Lindy on her Leadership with Heart Podcast after reading an article about Lindy in a magazine. That’s how strong her caring leadership abilities are.  Lindy shares compelling stories and insights into the world of caring leadership. She describes what her drive to lead was born out of and shares a story where she learned a hard leadership lesson.  Takeaways: Leadership isn’t measured by organization or budgetary size.  Leadership is about leveraging partnerships internally and externally to minimize impact.  Just do better everyday.  Focus internally on your culture before diving into strategic planning.  Teams attract best and brightest talent. Leadership is the opposite of leave no trace.  Create the space and time to listen.  We’re on this earth for such a short time, why not do as much as we can?
In this episode, Heather speaks with Donald Comer, Staff VP of Fedex Corporation, and an incredible leader of color who was recommended by Stephen M.R. Covey. Donald’s leadership wisdom conveys that he is a humble leader who leads with reverent power. Their conversation conveys that anyone in any place in an organization has the opportunity to lead. Donald and Heather discuss strategies for maintaining culture in a remote environment, which are very useful in today’s climate. Takeaways: Lead with reverent power. Make sure your personal brand and company brand mesh. Foster an environment that allows mistakes and by consequence innovation. Bring culture of office to the remote environment. Handwritten notes are a forgotten skill and a powerful tool. Share a different perspective than what you’re accustomed to. Assume positive intent and use curiosity to meet the other person where they are.
In this episode, Heather speaks with LaToya Lyn, Vice President of Talent Strategy at Oscar Health. Heather and LaToya begin with a discussion of Black History month and what it means to both of them. Their conversation ranges from activism, to identities, to listening and learning. One of the richest episodes to date.  Takeaways: Black History month is in February because of 2 prominent birthdays in February—Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Drive D&I conversations all year round.  Safe spaces aren’t just for the trendy voices.  Repeated exposure to stimulus creates learning.  Listen for the other person’s lens; listen outside of your shoes.  Everybody has so many identities.  Search for people’s “why”. Know the goodness that everyone has been a part of on both sides.  
In this episode, Heather interviews Dave Sims, CEO of Floify, the industry’s leading mortgage automation platform. Dave is an example of a humble leader, one who recognizes that his leadership journey has no end. We discuss his development within his company and the crucial leadership lessons he learned along the way that he incorporates into his everyday.  Takeaways: Leaders take ownership for the whole company.  If there are problems on the front lines, take ownership and seek a resolution. Your leadership journey has no end.  Create a sense of belonging within your organization.  Leaders learn to become less involved, so others can learn and excel.
In this episode, Heather interviews Dr. Nikki Johnson, the first ever Chief of Mental Health Services for the Denver Sheriff’s Department. Nikki shares countless caring leadership traits and best practices, and how she came to pick them up along her own leadership journey. Takeaways: Strive to be empathetic, genuine and non-judgmental. Stay true to yourself, even in a unique and seemingly opposite environment. Know when to take a step back to better care for yourself. Be your own best cheerleader. Take the time for proper self-care. Place boundaries around the things you value, and make sure you honor them as well as others.
In this episode, Heather speaks with Stephen M.R. Covey, cofounder of CoveyLink and the FranklinCovey Speed of Trust Practice and New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Speed of Trust. Stephen shares how trust is that foundation of his leadership journey. He also shares the origins of his drive to lead and some sage tips from his father, Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Heather, like Stephen, believes that you trust lies at the foundation of caring leadership.  Takeaways:  Seek to bless not to impress. Life is about contribution, not accumulation.  Have an awareness that trust matters enormously.  Trust is learnable and doable.  Build trust from the inside out.  Do you trust yourself? Is it smart to trust you? Declare your intent, declare yourself.  Leaders must go first.  
In this episode, Heather speaks directly with listeners about some changes happening with the podcast, her thoughts on the US Capitol violence, the status of her book and some key thoughts on relationships:   Key takeaways: 1. We get to choose how we handle what is in front of us 2. Focus on relationships and all else will follow 3. Choose to be the bridge and not the divider
In this episode, Heather speaks with Phil Weiser, Attorney General in Colorado. Heather met Phil during her law school days at CU Boulder, but invited him to be on her podcast after hearing a speech he gave about empathy. Caring leadership is about emotional intelligence, and with empathy at the core of that, Heather knew she had to have Phil as a podcast guest.  Phil shares his leadership journey, sage advice, enjoyable anecdotes, and even the DEI&B initiatives underway at the Colorado Department of Law.  Takeaways: To be alive is to grow.  Focus on leading with empathy and not judgement.  Leadership is about urgency, care and vision.  Some people need to be asked and encouraged to apply for promotions.  Your strengths are also your weaknesses, be alert.  True care means willing the good for another. Even if that makes more work for you.  Give yourself grace.   
In this episode, Heather interviews the two women from her DEI certification class which she referenced in her blog recently. These two women shared an interaction, which Heather witnessed and was truly inspired by. Antrece Baggett, History, Associate Chair                            HCC Foundation Board Faculty Representative, and Golbou Ghassemieh, Project Manager/Recruitment Manager at Koff & Associates, both demonstrate humility, compassion and accountability in their interaction. Watch this week’s episode to experience the beauty of friendship and the true nature of caring leaders.  Takeaways: It’s important for caring leaders to be able to have accountability and take criticism. Have courage to confront the person that did something to harm you.  Demonstrate empathy and compassion when conversing with those who were hurt by your actions. Both parties in a confrontation need to  Assuming positive intent and accepting what someone was intending to do, take people on their word. Giving people the benefit of the doubt.  Create a safe space for someone to speak up, everyone deserves an opportunity to open up and talk. Be authentic leaders, whatever that is and whoever you are. Be yourself. Help people to lean into the discomfort in their mistakes and embarrassment because that’s where growth happens.
In this episode, Heather helps us reminisce on her favorite episodes for 2020 in order to plan for 2021.   Her final message. Leaders get to choose how they think, behave and interact with those they lead. Don’t forget the poster you have to show us as your best self. This helps those you lead show us as their best as well.
In this episode, Heather interviews Esmeralda Martinez, the Migrant Education Program Director for the Southwest Region. Esmeralda demonstrates caring leadership by advocating for those that are not at the table. In her line of work, that is primarily underprivileged students and their families.  Where does Esmeralda’s drive to lead come from? Her beautiful and empowering familial history and the struggles they endured that became opportunities for success. Heather’s last podcast guest, Barbara Medina, recommended Esmeralda and was an example of bringing out the best in others. Esmeralda herself now emulates this as she uplifts and motivates her team, rallying them behind the mission of their work.  Takeaways: Advocate for those that are not at the table. Value each individual as a whole. What do they bring to the table, what are their strengths and talents? Instill passion, you can do that successfully, you can achieve more together. Uplift and empower others to do what’s right.  Be true, and reflect that we may or may not be at our best, so stay consistent, focused, true and strong, It is not easy, and you are not alone.  
In this podcast episode, Heather interviews Karen Erren, President and CEO at Feeding Westchester. As a leader of a non-profit food distribution service, Karen is familiar with showing care to others, but that doesn’t mean she was always a perfectly caring leader. What Karen shows in her conversation with Heather is the effort that leaders have to put in to be there for their teams, especially during these trying times. Karen exemplifies being a caring leader by taking her place among her people, not above them. She meets them where they are each day, and expresses the importance of genuine and transparent vulnerability. Takeaways: Have high expectations for yourself and your team. The best thing you can do for someone is to believe in them. Stretch yourself, innovate, and fail. See yourself clearly, and the way others experience you. Be a part of your team every day. Be genuine and transparent. Share as much as you’re willing and say, but I’m here to work with you now.  
In this Leadership with Heart episode, Heather interviews a seasoned leader, Barbara Medina. Dr. Medina was recommended to be on the show by one of the many caring leaders that she helped develop during her time in the Colorado Department of Education as Assistant Commissioner.  Caring leadership techniques were ingrained in Barbara from childhood, when she was growing up on the family farm. There, she learned the importance of collaboration, mutual benefit, service and mission. Even the littlest one makes a contribution on the farm, and this is true in organizations as well. Barbara took her natural foundation in leadership to great heights in Colorado government advocating for ESL students and helping develop many caring leaders along the way (who hopefully will be joining Heather on future episodes!).  Takeaways: Everybody has something to provide the organization, and leaders have to help them see this, if they don’t already.  “I need you to be brilliant, I need you to be bold, but I need you to be brief” also be balanced.  Invest your energy where you can make the biggest difference.  Recognize what people bring to the table, before you invite them to lead with you. Think of it like a party invitation.  Obligation to do your best work, will drive you and feed your souls, and you can’t do anything better with your time. Leaders, be gentle and practice good compassion with yourself.  Obligation to do your best work will drive you and feed your souls, and you can’t do anything better with your time.
In this episode, Heather speaks directly to listeners about gratitude, resilience, how leaders help those they lead reframe and focus forward.   Key takeaways: 1. Help your people become resilient 2. Use gratitude as a resilience-building tool 3. Curate experiences that change the frame   
In this episode, Heather hosts a solo show. In a concise and powerful episode, she connects a classic movie, “The Gladiator,” to caring leadership. Maximus, the protagonist of the movie played by Russel Crowe, exemplifies that people can lead from any place, with or without a title. He produces a strong and effective team of gladiators by using key caring leader tactics. He takes the time to build trust, by doing exactly what he says he will do. He puts himself on the line for his team, and proves that he believes in the power of the team. Lastly, he shows the gladiators that it is possible to work together as a team and succeed.  Takeaways: People can lead from any place, with or without a title.  Build trust by follow through Show your team that teamwork is the path to success If you put yourself on the line for your team, your team will in turn throw themselves on the line for you.  Show up in a way that produces greatness inside of others as well. 
Heather speaks to Garth Jordan and Heather Loenser of the American Animal Hospital Association. Both leaders of this organization: Garth, CEO, and Heather Loenser, Senior Veterinary Officer, together with Heather Younger have a very dynamic discussion about their personal leadership findings.  To the Heathers, empathy comes naturally. To Garth, it has been a work in progress. Yet, they all agree that empathy is crucial to the art of leadership, and that the follow up action is just as crucial as the initial empathetic response. Leaders cannot merely seek to understand; they must go a step further. Heather Loenser describes how empaths have their own struggles, you cannot stop at feeling what the other person feels, you must help them resolve the issue, and step out of the dark hole with them, together.  Garth shares about his leadership journey and where he found a place for empathy amidst it. He speaks to the importance of hearing every voice. Leaders are responsible for responding to the findings of any listening exercise, and they have a duty to accompany their team through the changes, and to the solution. Everyone wants change, few want to change, and no one wants to lead the change.  Takeaways: Being an empath, it can be exhausting to feel another's fears.  Compassion is a necessary follow up to empathy-we see and feel someone’s pain—what do we do about it? Do unto others what they want you to do for them. Change will only happen if everyone is lifted up, understands what it looks like and their role in it. If you only have one to one empathy and compassion, design thinking helps you get from the one to many. With voice comes responsibility; a responsibility to become part of the solution.  Your worth as a person is not tied to your performance. Empathy is like a muscle, you can exercise it and find ways to bring it into personal and professional life, and find more value by practicing it every day.  Leaders bring to the table lessons learned, a lot of us learn a lot about how to exist in the world from our first families. If our experiences with our families weren’t perfect (and few are) then we will carry that with us throughout the rest of our lives. Best step to take to grow and become grounded and self aware is therapy.
In this Leadership with Heart episode, Heather speaks with Kirsten Benefiel, CEO of HSS, a company focused on leading the next generation of innovative security managed devices. Kirsten is a leader who strives to be authentic by showing up, being vulnerable and listening more than she speaks. Kirsten describes how aligning her life and leadership style with her personal values makes for a much easier leadership experience. Kirsten shows her compassion by explaining how a leader can never over communicate care for their team, whether it be via showing up, listening, or just trying to help.  Heather and Kirsten both elaborate on the importance that values, purpose and mission play in the trajectory of both one’s personal life as well as their professional path. Oftentimes the greatest rewards in leadership are the outcomes that a leader can affect by leading with purpose and their core values. To reach this level, Kirsten explains how she first had to focus on what her values were and what made her tick.  Kirsten elaborates on a crucial experience in her leadership journey that taught her that success is not always about the outcome, it’s about the journey too, because how you win also matters. Kirsten and Heather discuss best practices for how to “check yourself”. At the end of their conversation Kirsten offers a piece of heartfelt advice to anyone who is struggling, finding themselves at a crossroads or just in need of motivation. Key Takeaways: Define your personal core values Align your life with your values. You’ll have a much easier time leading. It’s not always about the outcome, it’s about the journey. Don’t be overshadowed by your ego. Your values are a filter that shape decision making and your behavior. Be your own critic. Shift your mindset from scarcity to abundance Life is not a zero-sum game Expand your circle of influence Never operate from a place of fear Vulnerability is empowering
In this episode, Heather shares some personal and heartfelt stories that need to be shared. She was nudged to share them and to ask listeners some key questions relating to safe spaces to tell all stories at work. Heather invites you to listen with an open mind and heart to her stories and to share some of your own, making others feel comfortable to show up as their full selves Key takeaways: Do your people feel safe to tell your stories? How well have you made your people feel included, welcome and accepted for who they are and what they bring to the table? Who do you include around your table and who do you exclude? Is it okay to present differing views on your team? What are the ramifications, whether direct or implicit, when people express differing views?
In this episode Heather interviews Diana Steinhoff, Executive Vice President, Product and Strategy at Life & Absence Management Administrative Solutions. Diana is a leader who does what she loves day in and day out, interacting with people that need help as they navigate difficult life events. Diana has mastered how to be innovative in a difficult space and infuse lots of compassion into her work.  Heather and Diana both offer examples of when they weren't the most compassionate leaders, but recognized their errors, and took ownership for their actions. Diana elaborates on the skill that's required to master the art of compassion. Many perceive compassion as a virtue of "softness", but on the contrary, compassion requires courage. Diana explains other necessary qualities of a good leader: authenticity, intentionality, and feedback orientated (both positive and constructive). Diana shares a beautiful and heartwarming story of how her mother strengthened the origins of her drive to lead. She then describes the personal challenges she faces as a leader, and the conscious decisions she has to make to better serve her team members.  While discussing leadership tactics for the current times, Diana calls upon leaders to seek avenues to continue learning, return to the basics of care, and create safe environments where their employees are able to operate, succeed and even fail, because our people are our number one asset.  Key Takeaways: People will remember how you made them feel. Control your emotions and practice empathy Bring in the human side, start with the basics of care Compassion requires courage Leaders must continue to learn Create a safe environment for employees  We need to protect our employees We need to engage our employees more We need to allow our employees room to make mistakes
In this episode, Heather speaks with Mario Harding, Associate Chief Operating Officer at Denver Health, about the origins of his leadership style leading him to success as a humble leader. Mario relays a story where he was not present for his team at a time when they needed him. He sheds light on important qualities of a leader: vulnerability, being present, taking care of yourself first, balance, putting yourself out there for your team, giving yourself grace, strong support network.    Heather and Mario discuss how to reconcile personal drive with true care, and the sacrifices necessary in leadership not only to care for others, but to care for yourself better as a leader. Delegation can be key to improving yourself as a leader, by allowing you to be more present, and providing others with opportunities to grow.    Key Takeaways: Don't let your circumstances define what you can do.  Take care of yourself and balance priority projects.  As a leader, always be present, especially during tough times.  Be a vulnerable leader and put yourself out there.  Being a leader means giving yourself grace.  Ask yourself as a leader, "What can I let go?" Delegation can be seen as giving a gift to someone else.  Hear from other leaders, let their stories lift you out of self-doubt. 
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