Rebel Podcast: Life and Work on Your Terms

RHR 165: Steel Backbone, Soft Heart: How Heart-Centered Leadership Changes the Way You Live, Love & Lead with Cheryl DeSantis

August 16, 2023 Kyle Roed, The HR Guy Season 4 Episode 165
Rebel Podcast: Life and Work on Your Terms
RHR 165: Steel Backbone, Soft Heart: How Heart-Centered Leadership Changes the Way You Live, Love & Lead with Cheryl DeSantis
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Show Notes Transcript

Picture this: You're a leader with a strategic mindset, but what if that's not enough? What if true leadership requires a human touch? This is exactly what we explore with our esteemed guest, Cheryl DeSantis, author of "Steel Backbone, Soft Heart: How Heart-Centered Leadership Changes the Way You Live, Love, and Lead." Cheryl's insights from her vast experience in strategic chief people roles challenge us to reconsider the way we lead and interact with our teams.

You'll be intrigued as we unravel the perfect blend of hard and soft skills that makes up effective leadership. We dive into the pushback Cheryl faced during her leadership transition and how empathy and compassion can serve as powerful tools to understand employees and customers alike. We also take a fascinating detour into the realm of curiosity, understanding its critical role in developing leadership skills while fostering an atmosphere of trust, respect, and vulnerability.

This episode culminates with Cheryl's transformative journey of vulnerability in leadership. Imagine going from being the least vulnerable person to opening up, letting your guard down. It's a compelling narrative that highlights the importance of empathy in creating a work culture that inspires team members to go above and beyond. So, join us, as Cheryl helps us tap into the potential of heart-centered leadership, reminding us that the power to change the way we live, love, and lead lies within us all.

  • Cheryl DeSantis's book: "Steel Backbone, Soft Heart: How Heart-Centered Leadership Changes the Way You Live, Love & Lead"
  • Purpose of the book:
    • Debunking the myth that effective leaders must be detached and unfeeling
    • Emphasizing the importance of valuing and championing the person first
  • Differentiating factors of the book:
    • Dispelling the misconception that leading with heart makes leaders appear "soft"
    • Focusing on putting people first, aligning with the current narrative in working culture
    • Addressing the Great Resignation and the Great Reshuffling - the need for appreciation and purpose in work
    • Exploring strategies for retaining team members and fostering loyalty
    • Encouraging leaders to be courageously vulnerable and build authentic relationships


https://www.cheryldesantis.com/


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Kyle Roed:

This is the rebel HR Podcast, the podcast about all things innovation in the people space. I'm Kyle ROED. Let's start the show. Welcome back revelation, our listeners extremely excited for the conversation today. This is gonna be a fun one with us. We have Cheryl DeSantis. Cheryl is the author of the new book, steel backbone, soft heart, how heart centered leadership changes the way you live, love, and lead. Welcome to the podcast.

Cheryl DeSantis:

Thank you. I'm so happy to be here.

Kyle Roed:

Well, we're extremely happy to have you here. In addition to being an author of a new book, Cheryl has spent years in a strategic chief people and diversity officer or chief HR officer role at multiple companies and just very excited to have a fellow HR practitioner join us on the podcast. Welcome.

Cheryl DeSantis:

Thanks. I know I'm learning. It's a little it's a little rare, but But it's great to be in the field and then working on sharing some thought leadership.

Kyle Roed:

I agree. And and I think it gives you a different perspective than, than many others. Because you are you were in the lived experience of some of the research and and, and thoughts that you're you're opining on right?

Cheryl DeSantis:

Yeah. I always say that with a world changes drastically when you have to look someone in the eye and say, you need to change the way you're doing things, versus just giving a recommendation, you know, I do find it to be sharpening my skills.

Kyle Roed:

I think everybody that's listening this podcast, that's an HR is like, Yep, I know that feeling. It's that like, you get like these feeling in the pit of your stomach. And you're like, This is gonna be an unfun conversation right now, but it needs to happen. And if it's not me than who's who's going to have it, right. Well, that's exactly right. Well, thank you again, for joining us. I do I want to start off by by asking a question about the book, you know, I know, writing and researching and putting together a book is a significant investment in time energy, and in some cases, heartburn. So what what motivated you to write the book steel backbone, soft heart?

Cheryl DeSantis:

Yeah, you know, I first had this idea back in 2012. And it came probably a series of reflection, I had stepped into my first really big role. And I think they did like 20 different assessments on me as a leader. And and one of them was that while I had really strong strategic chops, and while I was really driving in motivated, people found me hard to get to know. And I was shocked by that. And so it struck this curiosity in me of, hey, I'm an outgoing people person, why am I getting this reaction? And so I really was working at Mars. At that time, people notice the candy or the pet company, I was in the corporate headquarters. And I started really noticing the leaders around me and who got followership, who had the highest engagement scores. And so I did a little in the field research. But as most authors will tell you, I started in 2012, and then I shelved it, because life just got too busy. And then in 2021, we had we were one year post COVID, the biggest revelation I had was, we have to recapture the humanity of our people, you know, there's not there wasn't a lot of humanity and human resources at that point. And we had to get back to that. And, and COVID was really pushing us to do that. I also went through a personal loss of a loved one who had been encouraging me to write that book, and it was almost like the catalyst to do it. And it was part of my catharsis and grief and grieving that person. But it was kind of those two things, just my own self reflection and realizing the world needed a little bit more of the human side of what we do.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. And, and, you know, I think kudos to you for for starting it, and then and then going back to it like in and, you know, I've got to believe that there was probably some some catharsis there. And if I think back to 2021 Yeah, there was there was a lot going on in the world. And I think it was, it was an interesting moment, because I had a very similar awakening related to my role within my organization, and the fact that, you know, the more humanistic that I can be the more effective that I would actually be in this environment, which is very different than the school of thought that I was educated in. So So walk me through that because I have a feeling you probably had a similar a similar experiences as you were going through the course of your professional career. What What was kind of that that moment that kind of woke you up to the power of bringing humanity back into human resources?

Cheryl DeSantis:

Yeah, I think, you know, I had the benefit of, I left Mars and I went to a startup called Smile, direct club. And, you know, there's a reason I think my book needed to sit for a while because I needed more life experience, and more work experience. But I started looking at, again, at how we were treating people, and what the business performance was, of those leaders who had a bit more of a humanistic side. And I think the big awakening for me was, we all go to school, some of us get our master's degree and get MBAs. They teach us the strategic side of leadership, vision and purpose, prioritizing, removing obstacles, you know, it's all the kind of hard skills. But what was also going on in 2021, was the advent of the great resignation. Right? It was like people were leaving those leaders in droves. And so I started again, to get curious and go, Well, who are the leaders that are keeping people, and it was actually the leaders that had connected with people on a human level, and they felt that leader had their back and, and was integrated more into their work life situation, right. And they felt confident that that person would advocate for them. And so that was a seminal moment for me, and saying, it's not enough to have a one prong leadership approach of driving for results, and achieving outcomes, you also have to have the soft heart part of it, so that people can connect with you and kind of want to fight those battles with you.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely, and I think, you know, when you make that statement, and you make that comment about that, you know, those leaders that you want to follow for me, it immediately evokes the picture in my mind of those leaders that I would follow to the end of the earth. And, and, and it makes so much sense because those, those are the people that I like, loved working with, not not just because they were super smart, or really talented, or had a big job title, because they were just amazing humans, right, that like I just, I loved being around them, because I knew they made me better. And I knew they had my best interests in mind. And I knew them as as, as people. And so I'm curious. You know, as I think about that I, one of the words that you use, I think, is exactly where what question popped to my mind is, so as we think about leadership, and as we think about what you described as hard skills, versus these kind of, quote, softer skills, how can we think about this differently, as opposed to these types of leadership capabilities being considered, quote, soft?

Cheryl DeSantis:

It's a good, it's a very good question. And, you know, what, what I've been trying to do through the past five years in general, but certainly, since I wrote the book, is to just make it part of the leadership curriculum. And so you know, lots of leaders like to talk about agility and alignments, and, and the things they want to do. Well, we started to layer in things that would help push towards more of the heart centered skills like Courage, curiosity, inclusion, vulnerability, you know, and we would layer them underneath the leadership curriculum to show that these are really enablers for you to be a stronger business leader. And so it kind of it dovetail into, it dovetails into the leadership and development curriculum that we have.

Kyle Roed:

As you are rolling some of that out, did you receive any sort of pushback from your team? Or? Or have you experienced that in the past where, you know, you've got these leaders that are like, Oh, this is like HR, you know, Bs, and you know, you know, yeah, trust falls, and all this sorts of stuff like, like, how did you kind of counteract that as you were building and structuring this, this approach for your teams?

Cheryl DeSantis:

Yeah, no, it's a great question. So I started, you know, kind of trying in my own way, when I was at Mars, and I definitely had a few leaders on this one team I was at where there was a VP of sales that was like, No way, no way. Am I doing this? No way. You know, and I tried through sheer brute force to kind of make that happen. And I had to learn through failure on that one. And and so when I got to smile, direct club, I realized that the key to this was linking empathy, compassion, vulnerability, to actually the traits we have towards our customer. So smiledirectclub works to straighten and align your teeth, and we had huge empathy for our customer. In fact, we use data to know every single thing about that customer so that we understood the humanity of that customer. And so I use that approach on how we have to develop those skills internally so that we can show them x Charlie and have a better customer experience.

Kyle Roed:

That's smart. I have also learned the hard way that trying to like Iron Fist a manager to do what you want them to do, because I said, so just doesn't work very well. So I'm glad I'm not alone in that camp.

Cheryl DeSantis:

We're definitely not alone. In fact, I have a phrase that like, 10% of people hate everything, and you need to figure out that 10% is, so you don't waste your precious energy?

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely, it's like, I'm sure there's no, I don't know that there's any statistical like backing here. But like, I've heard the phrase that like 10% of people hate everything that you do. 10% of people love everything that you do. So you've got the 80% to work with, like, those are the people that you need to like, try to try to win over through your compelling, you know, vision. So,

Cheryl DeSantis:

yes, yes. In the golden adoption curve. I think that's,

Kyle Roed:

yeah, sounds good. Sounds really official when you say it that way? That's right, go with that. But I do think like, so this is, to me, this is extremely fascinating. And I want to, I want to spend some time talking about it. So, you know, you went the, the path of looking at what we do for customer engagement and customer experience, and how do we sell? And how do we support? And how do we help our customers? And you just you took those same tactics, and you use them? For employees, which for me, that makes perfect sense. It's all it's all about? How do we impact human behavior in a way that's positive? Right? It's just instead of driving sales, you're driving all of the other, you know, retention and excitement and innovation and energy. And so, so as you thought about it in that context, yeah, I'm curious what you focused on as it relates to the the customer experience versus employee experience, and where like, what were the overlaps that you focused on? And then And then, you know, did you focus on like, what are the KPIs that we're going to measure? Or did you focus on kind of the more like, here's what we care about with customers, and then use that as kind of a compelling, you know, argument for employees? How did you approach that? Because I think that can be helpful for some other HR track. Yeah,

Cheryl DeSantis:

I think the first thing is, is we have a big base of frontline workers. And so it was getting an understanding with them on you know, what do they really need to do their job, and a lot of it was rooted in empathy. So much of it was like, our sales tactic tactic is around trying to get people to open up to us. Right. And so it started there, if what are those core skills that the frontline needs? And then, you know, working with our own people, I mean, I guess we have the duality of that, and COVID, and people resigning left and right with the great resignation, right. And so it was kind of bringing together the retention strategy and how we wanted to go after and keep our talent. And then making sure we had the skills to continue to increase our sales performance. And something that, you know, that we called our Fast Track percentage. So it was a little both we had HR metrics, and we had business metrics that we looked at. And, and we also had an M, you know, our overall engagement score, where we had added in, you know, some of these questions around feeling seen, heard and understood, heal and valued. And so we use that just to see if we were making an impact. But that's, that's really how we started. And a lot of it was just the conversation with the leadership team. And you know, to their credit, a lot of them were not comfortable on on this side, but they knew that if we were going to drive the business performance, we had to cultivate the skills require people, if nothing else, to make sure that they can then turn it around for our customers. But I know they had a broader acceptance that we need this to retain our great people.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think it's, it's powerful to think about it in the context of, you know, this, it's not that a leader doesn't want to do these things. It's that sometimes they haven't been empowered to. And in so many cases, leaders get to where they're at, because they were good, individual contributors. And they never, they never had that investment in their, you know, their leadership, training and education. And so I think a lot of times, it's a product of awareness and, and support for your leaders as well as setting those because expectations in an appropriate manner, for your team to to achieve. Yeah, I

Cheryl DeSantis:

also think that lots of cohorts of people were told to kind of leave your personal values at the door or don't bring your don't bring your personal life and it's, you don't want to cross that boundary. But I think that's what COVID did is it removed that boundary, and suddenly we were in each other's lives. And I know you have cats, that's when I talk about like you'd see cats, you know, walking across people's keyboards and wanting to be in the picture like that's a vivid memory of me at that time. And so it did For us to have a different conversation, and you add in all the social and political things that were going on, in 2020, and 2021, and we needed to have deeper conversations that touch people's hearts, because people were going through pain, and the mental health challenges that we all saw. So it was almost like a perfect storm of really now employees, I feel like are pulling this type of leadership, more so than ever before.

Kyle Roed:

I couldn't agree more. And I think, you know, to that point, there was no more work life balance, it was work life blending at that point, right. Like, like work was being integrated into life. And it was like, at one point, I was disappointed if there wasn't like a cat or a dog, or, or a kid, you know, that randomly popped up in some on a conference call? You know, that was always the highlight of the meeting. And and I think that now, you know, I know many workplaces are kind of shifting back into hybrid, some workplaces are back in person, you can't really put the toothpaste back in the tube. Right, once you know who somebody is what makes them tick, once you have literally seen the inside of their house, right, it's a different, it's a different feeling. In it, I think it prompted some different challenges for leaders that we haven't, you know, traditionally been trained and how and how to manage I think, you know, one of them, you mentioned, you know, mental health and some of those challenges in the workplace. My argument has always been that this is not new. This, it has always existed, you know, mental health issues have been around since the beginning of humanity. But we've always been forced to suppress them in many cases in the workplace, or they've been masked, because we don't talk about it as quote, you know, attendance issues or attitude issues, or, you know, there's, there's, there's all these kinds of like, code codified words that HR has been using in the past. But the reality is the underlying root cause is that there's, a lot of times there's mental health challenges at play. And now, we've heard this kind of this brave new world where, you know, we aren't necessarily experts in how to deal with that, or trying to figure it out, and people are looking to HR to help out. So as we think about kind of how the workplace has been changed, and, you know, our environment has, honestly, the environment of Human Resources has changed pretty drastically over the last few years. What are the key skill sets or tactics that you've been able to derive, that allow you to continue to have the soft heart and focus on humanity, but also make sure that you've got as your books as the steel backbone to support the business objectives as well? Because there has to be some level of balance. So so how do we balance all that? Because it's not, it's easy for me to sit here on a podcast and say, Well, we have to have humanity in the workplace. It's a lot harder when you also still have deadlines, profit objectives, you know, revenue that like you, we still you still have to succeed as an organization as well, and have a balanced perspective. So how do we balance all that?

Cheryl DeSantis:

It's a great question. You know, I was always a big proponent in my business partners that I was like, Okay, we're gonna develop T diagnosing and analytical skills, we got to develop our business acumen. And we got to make sure we understand data analytics, right? That's kind of like the steel backbone side of what we do. But if we turn those things like a good companion capability with diagnosing it is curiosity and empathy and to go deeper, like, what why is that happening? Why is that person showing up that way? What more what more might we need to understand about that person? So you know, curiosity, empathy, I think with you know, when we look at business analytics, and business acumen that really is diving into the business and understanding the heartbeat of the business, almost as if it was a human being I mean, businesses are systems, right? And so you have to get in and understand what what's going on with the system? And how can we look at the intentionality of the system and what it's trying to achieve? And if there are roadblocks there, like certain leadership behaviors that don't make it engaging workplace, how do we go back into the system and where that started, you know, and start to stop that. So I think as we counter those skills, I mentioned curiosity, courage. I mean, one of the highest remarks or feedback you can get from me is, is having strong courage in the workplace, because we have to give the feedback that leaders don't want, and we have to stand really firm in that and be unpopular. And so, you know, I think that's important. Curiosity, courage, I think vulnerability, a lot of times when we're trying to change the way leadership is and that's what I'm really advocating is, we have to have the vulnerability to go first. And we have to share and make it safe for people to return that Boehner bill ready so that we can have a breakthrough. Because otherwise people will be holding back and you'll, you'll go, why am I not making progress with that leader, it's like, you just haven't probably tapped into that space where they feel like they can let their guard down, because we've been trained to have our guard up to be buttoned up to be perfect to not show weakness, you know, but I learned, I mean, I had an example where I joined a team, and they were like, We want to see where you struggle, we want to know, that imperfect side of you, that is going to be engaging to us. And it really was a change in my mindset, and how I lead my teams as well.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, it's funny. And, you know, we've had a number of guests kind of talk about this, this as a topic, you know, the kind of authenticity that it takes to be a truly good leader. And, and a lot of that does come with the kind of the courage to be authentic and vulnerable. You know, the, the courage to be curious, because sometimes if you ask a question, you won't like what you hear. That's very true.

Cheryl DeSantis:

Very true. And, and sometimes we we say, well, that, you know, that leaders two or three levels up for me, and, you know, if you're, you know, a business partner role, or even if you're like a cop professional, and you have to give some strong feedback on, hey, that's not a market driven decision. We don't support that in our model, it takes a lot of courage to go, That person could walk away and not value our partnership. But I have found that people people really do respond well to when someone has a point of view and a stance. So

Kyle Roed:

absolutely. And I, you know, I love the perspective. And, you know, the first time I heard this was years ago, and it to me, it sounded like, kind of like corporate BS, if I'm being perfectly honest. But the longer I've been in the in the field, the more real and relevant that it has. It has become and that is that feedback, open, honest, feedback given with candor, and kindness is truly a gift. Yeah, right. And that and when somebody takes the time to do that for you, as opposed to getting defensive, and upset, embrace, embracing it, and understanding that they they care enough to share with you something that might be uncomfortable for you. It's also uncomfortable for them, typically, that that is truly a gift that we should, we should embrace. And you know, I think, you know, I think about it, like, you know, I used to think up until one of my recent guests enlighten me that the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. Yeah. Right. And that's like, that's a that's a powerful kind of reframing of the world that if somebody cares enough to tell you something, that means that there is truly there's heart there, right, there's a, there's a shared experience that somebody cares enough to help you. So

Cheryl DeSantis:

yeah, I think one of the, you know, the most poignant examples I have in that is I had to tell someone on my team, that he wasn't viewed as my successor, and that there wouldn't be support, and I knew it would be disengaging to him, I was worried I had all the worries of like, he's going to quit. He's so capable. And I thought he was capable to be on my successor successors enlist, but there were stories about him. And so what it did was, he thanked me be he took an interim assignment within the company, to go sharpen those skills, who never would have done that if he didn't have that feedback. And then he came back and eventually got the role. And it was one of these moments that that could have caused a departure. But I think he appreciated the honesty, the clarity, and it inspired an action in him, that gave him a purpose to go forward. So yeah, I really, I do believe in it. And I think the people who have felt closest to me over my career are ones where I've had really, really candid feedback with them where we've had to change some behaviors.

Kyle Roed:

Well, I would, I would argue that had you not intentionally built up a relationship with that individual that that provided that trust, vulnerability, respect, they probably would have quit. Right, but they knew you had their back. So they didn't, right. I mean, like, that might be a simplistic way to think about it. But I think that's, you know, that's how you can give that feedback, and kind of retain that employee loyalty. And so that's something I wanted to touch on too, because I know your book gets into to kind of loyalty, and how do you retain and and so as you think about that, that challenge, we're all dealing with it right now. You know, what, what are some of those key tactics that you have have seen and observed and research that drive? That culture of loyalty?

Cheryl DeSantis:

Yeah, I mean, I think there's an example in the book that I always do with new teams, it's called the tree of life and, and it really has each person explained their roots, what made them who they are, what their strengths are, what their gifts are, what they need help on that There's always like a first step, because when when you truly understand the full story of the person, it just accelerates trust and understanding, because sometimes you'll see behaviors and you're like, Well, what is that all about? But you kind of understand it when you know when you know the person's story. So I think that's first and foremost, you know, creating those relationships, and then it really is cultivating them. I mean, I do recognize that not a lot of people have these skills around, you know, really creating these kinds of deeper connections. We actually created a playbook at smile, direct club that Guided Leaders, how to have an authentic conversation, which sounds funny because it sounds very inauthentic. But it was a way to give them questions to ask through the first couple. Because once you do the first couple, then you're more comfortable, right? So then you go, Okay, that wasn't as awkward of like, how do I do this in a team setting are going to make, you know, so I think there is a way of working it into your regular meeting cadence. So let's check in with who we are as people and what's going on in your life. And what challenges are you having to to noticing you mentioned earlier, you know, about mental health, like when somebody goes quiet, when they're not normally that way, my red flag goes up, and I immediately open up the door to say, hey, let's let's talk about everything that's going on in your life. You know, it's it doesn't seem like just workplace stress. So I think some of it is also the cure the courage to just go there with people. And that's what takes a little buildup of time. Is this safe? Is it safe to do that, where people haven't done it before. But I think once you start to get the hang of it, I mean, I was the least vulnerable person, alive and 2010, I wouldn't share anything, which is why my team, which is why I got that data and feedback and why my team at Morris was like, we want to know where you struggle, I thought I just tend to be so perfect. And I'm so wired that way. But when people started to understand my story, which was hey, I was, you know, an adopted kid, I didn't feel like I belonged. I didn't feel like I was good enough. And so I was always striving to prove that I did. And while it got me far in my career, and once I got to lead big teams, it became a super limiting quality of mine that I've had to bust through to just let the guard down a little bit. And so I've done a complete one ad by, you know, using the principles in the book. But yeah, sometimes I can't believe the conversations I'm having, because I just was so you know, walled off before.

Kyle Roed:

You know, I think it's, it's, it's fascinating. And I love that approach. And I've had a, I had, I was blessed that I had a similar tool shared with me in one of my first jobs out of college. And it's a it's a just a series of questions. And it just asks really simple questions like What are your individual goals? What matters to you, you know, what are your abilities that you enjoy using it work, you know, but what happens is you start asking these questions. And so often we skip over it. And we assume all of these things about, about the people on our team, or our peers, or, or even our managers, in some cases, when you actually understand who they are as a person that makes you better. To the point now that I like, I know, I have two people on my team who have people, kids who are like graduating this year, and the level of stress and frustration and like the, you know, the challenges that that can cause them. That's something that will be reflected in their work. I know that right. But I, I'm aware of that. And I will make sure that I'm empathetic and supportive as they go through some of those kind of those big life milestones that can be really challenging, stressful and hard for a parent, right?

Cheryl DeSantis:

Yeah, no, I love that. Even the way someone shows up, I had a lady on my team who was really hard charging and a bit could be a bit abrasive or proceed that way. And just really demanding of other people. And it was only when we shared her personal story, she had some severe trauma, that where she built this very hard shell, that a people were able to see the humanity of her not just, she's too demanding. And be she was able to see the impact she was having on other people. And so we were able to push through that. But it was only through vulnerably sharing, what created those behaviors to start with and everybody having huge empathy for that and really seeing her as a person, not just the person who's driving me too hard. And I you know, I can't meet her expectations.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely, absolutely. I think it's so powerful. And I think, you know, especially as we think about, you know, the role of human resources, you know, it's, for me, I think about it, in the context of it's not you as a person necessarily being open and you know, typically we like to learn about others and we're generally curious about human behavior or we're probably not in human resource. At least not an employee facing role in human resources. But, but for many leaders, this is not this is not easy. So if we can provide them tools, training, education support, be empathetic to them as they are kind of learning these skills of how to be more vulnerable, how to be more courageous, how to be more empathetic, as opposed to being judgmental, about how good they have been in the past that, you know, for me, that's how that's how you that's the secret sauce to how you actually support and facilitate some of these these organizational changes, which is what the books about right?

Cheryl DeSantis:

Yeah, and one of the things we did at smile, direct Club, which really helped us was, I mean, we had a lot, we had several leaders who, you know, when you would not originally think of as the most empathetic, right, but what we did was we had them give examples, little video snippets, you know, of examples of how they brought empathy into their job and how they viewed the importance of it. And it gave everybody permission to start using that kind of term. And that the that way of being, because when they looked up, they saw that leaders were talking about it, and it must be okay. You know, there's an organization principle called, as above, so below. And so if you can align that upper layer on the importance of this, then your middle level leaders will follow right behind, because they people in their heart want to be seen, valued, heard, respected for who they are. It's just they need to know that it's okay in that environment to be that way.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And I, I have seen this firsthand. And I'm very fortunate my current organization, if you ask my CEO, what's the most important leadership capability, he will look you dead in the eye and say, empathy. And he's learned that over multiple decades of being a chief executive officer, that that is actually what really drives leadership success. And that trickles down to the organizational success from there, right. And so. So if you don't trust me, I'll give you my my CEOs contact information. Maybe not, I might ask him before I do that.

Cheryl DeSantis:

I've had I've had to this was my last two will work to hear about it and then went, this was the best thing that we did. And, you know, I really do think that once it becomes comfortable, then it becomes just part of the ways you work.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. Absolutely. What just absolutely wonderful conversation. I'm fascinated to hear your responses to the rebel HR flash round. Are you ready? I'm ready. All right, here we go. Question number one, where does HR need to rebel,

Cheryl DeSantis:

we need to rebel against a lot of the systems and processes we put in for our own sort of job security and figure out how we make them agile and lighter on the business while still delivering some of the original intent behind it. So rebelling against the usual way of doing these practices and focusing on agility, speed and focus to unlock the business.

Kyle Roed:

I could not agree more, you will hear no argument from me. And you touched on a couple of things earlier that I think are worth calling out, you know, you you mentioned systems and and procedures. And you talked about making them agile and nimble. And I think that's that's one of the areas that as we think about our reputation in HR, the work that we do, if we can get out of this approach of like being stuck in the mud, because this policy has been around for so long. And you know, we've got to go through these 15 Different bureaucratic layers of approval, you know, the reality is, we probably don't, like let's, let's look at it from a lens of humanity, and that and create some systems that actually reinforce some of these these topics that we're talking about right now. So could could not agree more. Alright, question number two, who should we be listening to?

Cheryl DeSantis:

Well, I'm a big believer in frontline workers and our customers. They should be number number one. And number two, you know, I'm kind of biased to frontline workers, and then customers, but it can be either one of you know, what is your experience, you know, with, with our business from the customer side, and then, you know, your frontline workers are the ones looking our customers in the eyes. Much like I said earlier in HR, we have to look our people. And so kind of understanding what that life isn't and how we unlock them to have higher performance because that's going to drive the business.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. And, you know, I think one you know, here's an interesting, like correlation or statistic, and it's something that I talk about quite a bit, which is, you know, PricewaterhouseCoopers went out and did this, this big massive study on what actually impacts customer experience. And the top four things on that list that in all countries around the world was bad employee attitudes, unfriendly service, untrusted country company, and unknowledgeable employees. All of those things are employee driven, right. So so if your employee experience is poor, that's going to impact your customer experience and it's it's is all one big problem. It's the exact same challenge. And so we should be smart and collaborative about what is the solution, right? We spend so much time focusing on this customer experience and, and that funnel, we need to be thinking about the employees as well. I couldn't agree more. Now

Cheryl DeSantis:

relating so overlap each other in such a big way.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. All right. Last question here. How can our listeners connect with you?

Cheryl DeSantis:

Ah, okay, well, I am on LinkedIn, and I love to interact with people on LinkedIn. So just look for me, Cheryl DeSantis. I also have a website, Cheryl desantis.com, that has more information about my book and the speaking opportunities for people to engage with and I would love people to check out the book, I've gotten really great feedback from people on you know, how they can incorporate some of the principles into their curriculum and into their company. So if you can get on Amazon and and then interact with me on LinkedIn, I would love that.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. And we will have all that information in the show notes. It's just been a wonderful conversation. That book again, one more time is steel backbone, soft heart, how heart centered leadership changes the way you live, love, and lead. Cheryl, thank you so much for spending the last few minutes with us here. Just wonderful content and keep on spreading and positive people out there. Thank you.

Cheryl DeSantis:

Thank you. Appreciate it.

Kyle Roed:

All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. Big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Twitter, at rebel HR guy, or see our website at rebel human resources.com. The views and opinions expressed by rebel HR podcast are those the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast. Maybe