In the latest HCI Webinar, Dr. Jonathan H. Westover talks with Tiana Sanchez about how leaders and organizations can increase employee engagement and effectiveness in 2024. Below is a summary of the main points from their conversation! Check out the full episode and let us know what you think!
Watch the episode here:
Tiana's Journey to Corporate Success
Jonathan and Tiana discussed Tiana's journey to becoming a successful woman in the corporate world and their experiences with leadership and organizational development. Tiana shared that their start at a female-led national franchise organization at the age of 16 inspired their to believe they could achieve anything. Later, an opportunity to provide updates to the board at a financial institution led to career advancement and promotion. Tiana emphasized the importance of taking advantage of every situation, even if it's uncomfortable or challenging, to learn and grow. Jonathan agreed, encouraging people to find opportunities to contribute and learn in their current situations.
Leadership Character in Crisis
Tiana, an executive coach, emphasized the importance of conflict and chaos in revealing a person's true character, particularly for leaders. They stressed that a leader's effectiveness is tested during times of crisis, rather than when things are going well. Jonathan agreed with Tiana's points, highlighting the importance of values such as courage, integrity, and humility in leaders, particularly during times of crisis like the pandemic. Tiana noted a shift in the desired traits of a leader, with an increasing emphasis on character traits like justice, humility, and caring. They also highlighted the need for compassion and emotional connection in the workplace, using the example of a company that paused operations during 9/11 to care for its employees.
Leadership, Respect, and Employee Engagement
Tiana and Jonathan discussed the importance of recognizing positive leadership traits, emphasizing mutual respect and care for others. They noted a shift in leadership expectations towards more honest and transparent leadership, highlighting the need to provide respect and care to team members. Jonathan pointed out that only 21% of employees are engaged, a problem they attributed to a lack of attention given to quiet leaders. They stressed the importance of employee engagement and regular feedback and recognition, as well as humanizing the work environment. They also discussed the risks associated with promoting individuals to leadership positions without proper training, citing the example of Michael Scott from The Office, a character that epitomizes the concept of promoting people to their level of incompetence.
Skills, Engagement, AI, Feedback Culture
Jonathan and Tiana discussed the importance of skills beyond technical expertise for career success. Tiana emphasized the need for leaders to evaluate engagement levels within their organizations and be prepared to act on any issues identified. They also encouraged leaders to integrate AI tools rather than replace employees and always remain open to learning new things. The conversation concluded with a Q&A session where Tiana provided advice to students about to complete their education and start their careers. Tiana emphasized the importance of experiential work, such as internships, in enhancing career prospects. They highlighted that employers are increasingly seeking nongrid employees, those with a combination of theoretical knowledge from education and practical experience from work. Jonathan concurred, emphasizing that their university programs prioritize experiential education. Both agreed that feedback should be facilitated at all levels of leadership. Tiana and Jonathan discussed the importance of a feedback culture in organizations. Tiana emphasized the need to shift from only giving feedback when something goes wrong to also giving "feed forward" when things are going well. They suggested that this should be a part of an organizational culture, especially in the C-suite. Jonathan agreed, stating that a psychologically safe environment should be created where people can provide feedback, question, challenge, and give positive feedback. They also pointed out that insecure leaders may see feedback as a threat, which could be detrimental to the organization.
Leadership Traits: 'Others Centered' and Selflessness
Tiana discussed the influence of a leader they had worked with closely, highlighting their ability to make decisions for the greater good of the organization and their care for the employees. They emphasized the importance of a character trait they described as 'others centered', which they also associated with selflessness and servant leadership. Tiana suggested that this trait could be beneficial for other leaders to cultivate and demonstrated its impact through the example of their colleague's decision-making.
Work Reflection and Connection Invitation
Jonathan and Tiana concluded a discussion where Tiana shared their work and invited the audience to connect with their. Tiana encouraged the audience to reflect on the conversation and make small changes in their lives and careers based on the tips and techniques shared. They also mentioned their presence on LinkedIn and their personal website where the audience can find more about their work. Jonathan thanked Tiana for their time and thoughts, and mentioned that the recording of the discussion would be shared with the rest of the class.
Listen to the webinar here: