In today's world, leadership is evolving. No longer is it sufficient to simply have a strategic mindset. True leadership, as we discover in our latest podcast episode with Cheryl DeSantis, author of "Steel Backbone, Soft Heart: How Heart-Centered Leadership Changes the Way You Live, Love, and Lead," requires a human touch.
DeSantis, with her vast experience in strategic chief people roles, challenges us to reconsider the way we lead and interact with our teams. According to her, effective leadership is a blend of hard and soft skills. This combination enables leaders to understand their employees and customers alike through empathy and compassion, powerful tools often overlooked in traditional leadership models.
DeSantis shares insights from her leadership transition and the pushback she faced. This transition, which required her to integrate soft skills such as empathy into her leadership style, faced resistance. However, she found that using the same tactics to understand and engage employees as she would customers, led to increased employee retention and a more harmonious work environment.
This podcast episode delves into the realm of curiosity and its critical role in developing leadership skills. A curious leader fosters an atmosphere of trust, respect, and vulnerability. These are key to creating an organizational culture where employees feel seen, valued, and understood. It also inspires team members to reach their potential, leading to increased productivity and overall business success.
One of the most transformative parts of DeSantis's leadership journey is her embrace of vulnerability. In 2010, she was the least vulnerable person alive, keeping her personal life and struggles separate from her professional persona. However, she found that this approach hindered her ability to connect with her team on a deeper level. By letting her guard down and sharing her personal story, she created a culture of empathy within her organization.
DeSantis’s journey highlights the importance of empathy in creating a work culture that inspires team members to go above and beyond. Her story is a reminder that the power to change the way we live, love, and lead lies within us all. Heart-centered leadership, according to DeSantis, is not only about strategic decision-making but also about connecting with people on a human level.
This episode is a must-listen for anyone in a leadership position or aspiring to be a leader. It challenges the conventional wisdom of leadership and encourages us to lead with empathy and vulnerability. It serves as a reminder that in the end, businesses are about people, and the best way to lead people is to understand and empathize with them.
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