Join Sarah Tenisi, TenisiTech's CEO on Tech Me Seriously, a podcast that explores tech, business, and innovation.

Kristi Royse: Leadership Secrets

In this episode, Sarah Tenisi speaks with Kristi Royse, founder and CEO at KLR Consulting. She is also an Executive Coach at Skyline Group International, and a leadership development consultant for a wide variety of well-known companies, including Workplace by Facebook and Rodan + Fields.

A great leadership team, according to Kristi, is defined by vulnerability and passion. Every individual on the team—especially during these challenging times—needs to be willing to be willing to ask the important questions and be open to receiving answers that they may not always want to hear. Active listening allows us to drop our egos and become authentic, vulnerable, and passionate members of the team committed to the growth and success of the organization.

Listen in as Kristi discusses why she disagrees with The Golden Rule and why she prefers to follow The Platinum Rule instead, a primer on the four DISC personality types and how understanding each type can help you communicate better at work, and leading amid the pandemic.

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What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

●      [0:27] Kristi’s role at KLR Consulting

●      [1:14] What a great leadership team looks like

●      [3:12] What open communication and collaboration looks like

●      [4:24] How Kristi helps teams of all kinds tap into their full potential

●      [5:48] Kristi’s number one tip for uncovering core leadership problems

●      [6:56] Tools and methodologies for helping a team reach its potential

●      [10:00] The four DISC personality types

●      [15:02] The advantages of a balanced team

●      [18:14] Handling disagreements

●      [22:16] Unique challenges in training tech organizations

●      [25:46] Management versus leadership

●      [28:37] How KLR Consulting evaluates their success in training a team

●      [32:34] How different situations call for different leadership styles

●      [37:36] Kristi’s parting words of wisdom for building a great leadership team

Key quotes:

●      “Allowing for authenticity is a key success factor in effective leadership teams.”

●      “When we think about effective communication, you really need to think about how you’re adapting and adjusting your communication style to meet those that you’re working with, whether it be employees, colleagues, clients, or potential clients.”

●      “Awareness leads to understanding, leads to acceptance, leads to change.”

●      “What makes a strong leadership team is balance.”

●      “Sometimes, the best answer is to walk away.”

●      “Managers do the work. Leaders figure out who is the best person to do the work.”

●      “The biggest leadership challenge I’m seeing this year is lack of clarification and lack of alignment. That’s when people can get really frustrated. Different meeting management can lead to greater communication and collaboration and, therefore, less stress.”

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Sarah Tenisi: You’re listening to TechMe seriously with Sarah Tenisi, CEO of TenisiTech. Candid conversations with professional women exploring their passion for what they do.

Sarah Tenisi: Hi, I’m Sarah Tenisi, the CEO of TenisiTech and the host of Tech Me seriously. Today I’m here with Kristi Royce, the founder and CEO of KLR Consulting. Kristi, thank you so much for being with me today.

Kristi Royce: Happy to be here, Sarah. Thanks for the invitation.

Sarah Tenisi: Absolutely. So as we kick off, could you do me a favor and introduce yourself to the audience here?

Kristi Royce: Well, as the CEO of KLR Consulting, my passion, Sarah, is to really help leaders and teams recognize and tap into their full potential. You know, what’s really Sarah about developing effective communication, collaboration and leadership skills, which really ultimately help teams, individuals and companies achieve higher levels of performance and stellar results.

Sarah Tenisi: That is perfect. That is exactly why we have you on today’s show because we’re talking about what it takes to build a great leadership. And I know over your career that has been your focus. So let’s kind of start at the beginning. What does a great leadership team look like? Wow, that’s a big question.

Kristi Royce: It’s a big one, I know. What does a great leadership team look like? Well, first of all, one word comes into my mind, Sarah, and that’s vulnerability. Yeah. Every individual on the team needs to be willing to and especially in these times today. They need to be willing to be vulnerable.

They need to be willing to share. They need to be willing to listen. And that’s where you get true when I talk earlier about communication and collaboration. That’s where it is recognized when people are willing to ask the questions and listen to the answers that they may not always want to hear.

Sarah Tenisi: That’s I think the toughest thing. It’s almost also about being authentic, right? Isn’t being vulnerable a way to be authentic, right? To put yourself out there and listen for things that you might not already know, even if it’s about yourself.

Kristi Royce: Absolutely. It’s in fact, it’s interesting, Sarah. I just had a facilitator retreat with a client yesterday. And one of the big opportunities that this client surfaced is that they were not good listeners. Here I’m facilitating the Zoom session and they’re interrupting each other and they’re not allowing people to finish their sentences.

And active listening skills, I think, has always been a big challenge. But especially when you think about it at the leadership level, our egos get in the way. And we are not willing to be vulnerable. We’re not willing to be authentic in it’s whoever has the loudest voice in the room speaks. And allowing for that authenticity is a key success factor and effective leadership teams.

Sarah Tenisi: And it sounds like one of the things, I think you just said this too. So a big pillar, would you say that one of the core pillars of a great team is having open communication and collaboration?

Kristi Royce: Yes. And what is open communication? It’s a really good question because the other thing we focus a lot on with our clients, Sarah, is you always grew up thinking about the golden rule, which is due into others as you would have them do into you, which is wrong.

We need to be thinking about what I call the platinum rule. And that is treat others the way they want to be treated. And when we think about effective communication, you really need to think about how you’re adapting and adjusting your communication style to meet those that you’re working with, whether it be employees, whether it be colleagues, whether it be clients or whether it be potential clients.

Sarah Tenisi: And I think that’s the trick is learning how to do that on the fly. And I think, you know, when I think about a lot of the work you do going into maybe, I’m trying to think of a nice way to say it, a broken leadership team, maybe, what are the pitfalls or habits that you think you’re seeing when you go into a team that really needs your help? Or do they start off pretty good and feel like they can get better?

Kristi Royce: Well, we’re really brought in in two different situations, Sarah. Either it’s teams that are 80% there and have the drive and the ambition to get to 100%. It may be teams that are, to your point, are very dysfunctional and really need help digging in and uncovering why they’re dysfunctional and then how to solve that dysfunction.

So it really can be a little bit of both. Again, it’s, as I said earlier, we’re here to help leaders recognize and tap into that full potential. And a lot of times they don’t know how to get there.

Sarah Tenisi: Well, and that makes sense to me because that’s the key is that either 80% to 100% or when you throw up your hands and think, okay, I need to call somebody in because there’s just something that’s not working.

When you think about the clients that you’ve worked with, are there key challenges that they’re facing when they call you, whether it’s going from that 80% to 100% or if it’s like, we’re not even sure where to start.

I sort of feel like one size doesn’t fit all, but when we go and do an IT assessment, there are themes that we see across our clients. So we kind of know how to address those things. That practice kind of gets us good at it. So is that similar in what you do when you’re evaluating leadership teams?

Kristi Royce: Absolutely. And it is certainly not one size fits all. Yeah. And I would say probably one of my number one strengths and values that we bring to teams is our ability, as I mentioned earlier, to really listen.

Because I find that so many consultants and Sarah, I’m sure you see this with other IT consultants as well. They go in thinking that they have the answers. But it’s not a turnkey approach. It’s not a cookie cutter approach. And we go in with that, with the real key focus of listening and digging and finding those answers.

Because as I said before, a lot of times they are not aware of what the challenges are. And you have to go in with that open book and being able to have the courage and the discipline and the drive to really get to the challenges that they’re facing.

Sarah Tenisi: So when you’re in a company and you’re diagnosing the roots of these problems, what are the tools and methodologies that you use to get there?

Kristi Royce: Well, one of my favorite tools, Sarah, that I’ve used for probably almost 20 plus years of having my business, one is called the Disc Assessment. And really helpful tool because it helps leaders understand how to communicate, how to collaborate and what their innate strengths are.

Again, back to the Golden Rule versus the Platinum Rule. And really teaches them not only how to be effective managers, but effective leaders and effective team builders.

Sarah Tenisi: I think back. So when you helped me with Disc Assessments and we ran these Disc Assessments on the TenisiTech team, I feel like my big aha moment was, hey, there are various communication styles. And it turns out that they’re all really valuable. So for me, that was kind of a big aha. Are there other aha’s that people, your administering Disc Assessments to have?

Kristi Royce: Well, what’s always what I just have a big spot on my face. I wish everybody could see it because the big response I have when I’m walking the individuals through their Disc Assessments is it’s like, oh my gosh, this is like cookie cutter pegged me of exactly how I communicate and how I collaborate. I have so many clients that have said I’ve given this to my spouses and they laugh. Yeah.

How can I answer a few questions and it pegged me so well? So that is one consistent congruent response I get. The other thing is that I see happen frequently, especially with dysfunctional leadership teams is the red lights go off when they say, oh, now I get why there’s tension between, you know, the COO and myself.

Because we have very different communication styles and very different expectations. So what the assessment can do is increase that awareness. You know, I have a phrase I use a lot with my clients and that’s awareness leads to understanding, leads to acceptance, leads to change. And you’re not going to have that change unless you go through those first three steps.

Sarah Tenisi: That resonates with me 100% because before before I had ever talked to you about how to even start, it’s not something you think about. I feel like you come from your perspective when you talk to other people and you just expect that they know what you’re all about.

I’m wondering if we could backtrack just for a second and could you just high, high level, 3,000 foot view describe kind of the four main elements of disc and what people, where kind of people fall in those and what that means to a communication style?

Kristi Royce: Of course. Well, yes, very high level view. It’s basically you take an assessment and it takes about 10 minutes to complete it. And everybody’s dot lands in one of four quadrants. Okay. So, if you’re a high D, you are direct, you are driven. It is be prepared, be brief and be gone if you’re working with high D’s.

So sometimes that directness to people can appear almost forceful and blunt, but they don’t realize it. High I’s, inspirational, motivating, inspiring. They’ve been great enthusiasm to the team. Use that enthusiasm though can be viewed as nights. So great aha’s that they can have.

The high S’s, steady, stable, calm, reli- dependable, reliable. They can be fearful of change and fearful of conflict. So a high D comes in very direct saying, let’s change this, let’s change that. A high S is going to take 20 steps back and say, oh my gosh. So they could have challenges in communicating and collaborating. And then the high C’s are the conscientious methodical attention to detail. They are not going to make mistakes.

I would say never ask a high I to make, excuse me, a high C to make a hallway conversation or a hallway decision or they will put the brakes on because they need to go back and make certain that again, every I is dotted and every T is crossed.

So very big picture, yes, but you can see those different communication styles where it can lead to difficulty in communicating and collaborating because we have different strengths and different stressors.

Sarah Tenisi: And that, I mean, that is exactly what I think I’ve encountered in building a team, right? There’s a tendency for me. And I mean, I think this is why you and I communicate so well together. There’s a tendency for me to be really quick, really with it.

I fall on that high D, little bit of I scale and I think that knowing about the other types of communication styles, open me up to wanting to work with people that had different styles because each of those styles has a huge value, right? And those conscientious C’s that don’t make mistakes. So I really need those people to back me up, I think, you know?

So I think that that’s it right there. That’s an unlock, but it isn’t as simple as I think we’re making it seem, right? Because the practice of that awareness is where it can be a little bit tricky. It’s like, what do they say? Recognizing the issue is the first step to solving a problem.

Kristi Royce: Exactly. Well, Sarah, you asked a question earlier, what makes a strong leadership team? It’s balanced. And you know, we tend to hire people that are similar to us. You know, and I’m working with a client right now and they have 70% high D’s.

And they’re facing some big challenges. So you hit the nail on the head. It is about balance, but it is also about awareness. So helping the leadership teams better understand the importance of this is one key value that we bring to teams.

Sarah Tenisi: Well, and it’s so funny, I’m shaking my head vigorously. Do you find that teams tend to hire the same type of people that maybe the founders are like or whatever else?

And what are the challenges when you end up like in a room of, you know, 70% D’s, can anyone even get a word in edgewise? Does everybody have a different solution, right?

Kristi Royce: Well, and the key there, something that I mentioned earlier is vulnerability. And these have the hardest time being vulnerable of anybody because there he goes getting the way.

So I will all be honest, if you get a bunch of high D’s in a room, boy, talk about the drive and the motivation and the ambition, they will not stop until they get to that finish line. So you think about different industries that can be imperative to success.

And yet if you get a bunch of high D’s in a room and there is not trust and respect, it is put the boxing gloves on because the strongest man wins, man, woman wins until they get to that finish line.

And so yes, part of it is understanding communication style, but part of it is really building that trust and respect to allow people to really capitalize on not only their individual strengths, but their collective strengths.

Sarah Tenisi: Yeah, and would you say that the balance, like if you’re able to get to a point where you recognize that you need all of the styles to make a great team work, do you think you’re in a better position to avoid group?

Kristi Royce: Thank absolutely. Absolutely. In fact, again, working with the team two weeks ago and they had the 3% high C’s. And this is actually the work that I’m doing with Facebook right now. And they had 33 people on this team.

And they were, well, I guess maybe it was 5% high C’s. And the VP of this team as I showed him the collective team results said, oh my gosh, I better start going recruiting high C’s.

Now I understand what some of our challenges are with mistakes because they don’t have anybody that’s dot in the eyes and across on the T’s. So yes, it helps prevent group think, but it really helps allow everybody to be their best self because they’re not working in areas of weakness. They’re working in areas of strength.

Sarah Tenisi: So I want to dig into that a little bit. But before we get there, you know, I think that was one of the things that I learned to do after taking disc is to recognize, okay, this person is probably a C or an S, which is kind of opposite from what I am right in that D.

And so I’ve got to like pause and let them think before they answer without running them over with my next question, my next thought, my next idea. And man, it is challenging to take that deep breath and really just sit there and let them have the time to think.

Kristi Royce: Sarah, that’s back to active listening that we talked about. I have a tool that I use a lot in my workshops and it is literally an Elmo doll. And Elmo, my acronym is it’s E L M O enough. Let’s move on. And what it allows people to do is eliminate that need to interrupt each other, but also interrupt when necessary because the high C’s and the high I’s can go on and on and on and on and on.

And the high D’s are like, let me interrupt or get me the heck out of this conversation. So what tools can you bring into those conversations to make sure that either A, you’re not interrupting or B, you’re not rambling on and on.

And we’ve got a lot of fun tools and best practice that we bring into our team conversations to get people permission to make certain that they are again, not going down rabbit holes that are going to drive people crazy.

Sarah Tenisi: You know, another one that I think of too, another kind of gotcha in communicating with groups of people is the whole politicking, right? Like you make yourself heard, you get your opinion out there.

And then what’s always hard for me is to like, let it go. You know what I mean? Let people disagree, let people discuss and let’s move on. So I’m always like, well, I really just think we need to agree. And you’re not always going to get that on the spot, right?

Kristi Royce: Sometimes the best answer is to walk away and go think about it, I guess, which is excuse me, hard as hell for high D’s because you want to cross it off the list. That’s right. But other people need that time, Sarah.

So to be able to, in fact, I had to retreat last week and we literally ended an hour early because I said, you know what, I’m going to give everybody an assignment. And I want you to go away and I want you to think about this and we will come back next week and revisit it.

So I may be turning to make you a little curveball here in this conversation, but I also will throw out one thing that is so necessary when working with a facilitator in situations like this is you’ve got to work with somebody who is willing to read the audience and take that curveball when necessary and learn to adapt in the moment.

And it’s hard to do when you are so engrossed in your agenda, but sometimes your agenda might turn the other way and you need to be willing to take, like I said, to take that curveball and take it in a different direction when necessary.

Sarah Tenisi: Yeah, I totally understand these challenges because part of it for me too is, okay, great. I understand how people want me to communicate with them, but I also want them to now understand how I’m going to communicate.

And I’ll get something like, it’s just your tone. You’re really direct and it’s your tone. And I’m like, but you know this about me. I’m 40 something years old. This is the tone.

This is the way it’s always been. I’ve known you 10 years. Can we just move on from that and get going on the next thing? And so I’m constantly like, how can I have a nicer tone? So I mean, it’s all that stuff. It’s constant. It’s like something that I feel like people need to think about as they’re building teams.

Kristi Royce: Well Sarah, I go back to what I said earlier. Awareness leads to understanding leads to acceptance leads to change. And we constantly are becoming more and more aware. My gosh, I just prior to our conversation today, I was facilitating an executive meeting executive presence workshop for a bunch of attorneys.

And one of the things that they were absolutely flabbergasted at is I told them I was nervous before preparing for this presentation. And they’re like, you teach this stuff. How can you be nervous? And I said, because it’s important to me.

And I say this all the time, if you’re not nervous and if you’re not constantly aware and adapting to situations just like you’re eluding to, you will not be at your best self. You know, and I teach it. I made three mistakes in this presentation train.

You know, I was, we were on Zoom and tried to do something and who knows what I did, but we’re constantly, we constantly need to be learning and growing. And I believe that’s something when you also talk about stellar leaders. That’s what commitments are you making to develop yourself?

Sarah Tenisi: Yeah, I mean, that makes sense. And you know, I was thinking as you were talking about that, it’s sort of what we’ve been talking about. It’s authenticity. It’s not having an ego.

It’s being vulnerable. You know, you mentioned working with a group of lawyers. You mentioned some of the work that you’ve been doing on Facebook. I’m curious. Can you work with a group of technology focused people, whether it’s engineers or some kind of tech startup?

Do they have different challenges than a group of lawyers, a group of academics or, you know, some of the other teams that you’ve worked with? Are there tech challenges?

Kristi Royce: Yes. My direct response is yes. There are some differences. And yet as I take the time to dig deep and understand and uncover challenges, I will be honest, Sarah. I think they are consistent from industry from industry from team to team. In what way?

Number one, communication and collaboration are just the biggest challenges period. We are so focused on speed, speed, speed, speed, speed. You know, let’s get to the next thing. Let’s grow our business. Let’s grow our team. Let’s, you know, make the next sales, sales pitch, whatever it is.

And so I think people are not, again, individuals and teams are not as aware as they need to be, as you have already mentioned. I also do go back to, I think about an organization I worked with called Strava. And I’m sure many of you are familiar with Strava. It’s a great company.

But I started working with Strava when they had under 30 employees. And I was brought in because there were a number of engineers that were promoted to managerial roles that did not have the management experience. So they brought me in to work with them.

So I brought Disc in. They all learned how to utilize the assessment. I did one on one coaching with this group for three months. And you watched their confidence go from about negative three to about 70%. Well, the CEO saw the value and he said, I want to bring you into work with my leadership team.

So I had a similar approach with the leadership team. And he was so wowed with the process of what we did. And he said, my people do not know how to communicate and collaborate effectively.

We’re a new team. We’re a fast growing team. We are always two steps behind. So therefore, our communication and collaboration is not as strong as it needs to be. So long story short, Sarah, 285 employees later had gone through the disc process with me. And he really attributes a lot of the success of the teams that he built and he grew to the small amount of work and value that we added.

Sarah Tenisi: So when you were talking about engineers being promoted to managers, and I think you might solve a conundrum for me because I feel like this happens a lot. When I worked at Adobe, a lot of the technical people were, it’s like the next step was management.

There was only so far you could go on potentially a technical path. And I think this is something that a lot of companies deal with before you maybe max out your potential.

So it feels like a lot of times employees are ready to take on a leadership role. And it never made sense to me that just because you are a good technical person or good in whatever role, I don’t even think it matters if it’s necessarily technical, that you would then make a good manager.

But as you described kind of taking groups through this process, part of me wonders, is that one of the missing links? Right? And really, is this fair to say you’re teaching people how to collaborate and communicate more effectively?

Kristi Royce: Yes. And a very direct response, yes. Yeah. And the other thing that we see happen frequently is that big, big difference between management and leadership. And managers do the work.

Others figure out who’s the best person to do the work and coach and motivate and inspire and very different. And I could speak 30 minutes about the difference between management and leadership.

And I think that is, I know, that is also a big challenge that I see within these organizations that I’m working with is they promote people into these roles before they’re ready and don’t give them the training, the background that they need in order to jump into these roles with competence and confidence.

Sarah Tenisi: Well, and I think it shakes the rest of the team, right? You’re like, how did this person become my manager? They don’t even know how to do X, whatever it is. They don’t even know how to run a staff meeting.

They don’t even know how to talk about what the company values are, whatever it is. And I feel like the aha I’m having in this is, look, with a little space and a little training, they can learn to become a more effective communicator.

And then, to your point, does that mean that they’ll be the leader? Not necessarily. Maybe they’re going to be the manager, but you really need both, right? You really need both on a team to make it happen because there is a difference between having that big picture view and asking people then to go execute it. Absolutely. And they are different skill sets, right?

Kristi Royce: They’re completely different skill sets. And it’s that’s where I see the conundrum happen most frequently with the teams I work with is not as much the engineers being promoted to manager roles, as I said, but really more about managers being promoted to seeing your leadership roles. And they do things the same way. And it is a completely different perspective leading versus managing.

Sarah Tenisi: Is part of it having the confidence to turn the wheel over to your managers, right? You have a vision. You believe you’ve put the right people in place to execute that vision, and now you have to have that trust.

Kristi Royce: You have to have that trust. You hit the nail in the head. And you have to, as a leader, make sure you’re setting your teams up for success and the individuals within those teams up for success.

Sarah Tenisi: So when you, I was going to say when you finish working with the team, but I’m not sure that any team has actually ever finished in developing kind of their stride and becoming really successful together.

But is there a moment where you’re working with a team when you’re like, you’ve got it? Or is this an ongoing process that teams need to focus on?

Kristi Royce: I would say number one is an ongoing process. So let me start with the end in part of my response to your question. But the beginning part, Sarah, it’s also something that I believe we do differently at KLR Consulting is that we really provide the teams with actionable, tangible steps for what they need to continue doing.

So I even have a process that we use at the end of most of our retreats, and we call it continue, stop, and start. So as we’re walking away from these retreats, these team building, this training session, I would say to you, Sarah, okay, as your leadership team, what did you learn over these last leadership training sessions that you would want to continue doing?

What are you doing well? What did you learn? Maybe you’re not doing so well, you want to stop doing. And what new best practices did you pick up you want to start doing? So you as a leader of this team of TinisiTech have some tools that you’re able to implement the best practices and as a follow-up tool.

Then I also encourage everybody individually to complete their own continue, stop, and start. So you keep it going. One of the big challenges I see that, to be honest, is can be really frustrating for me as if teams bring me in and say, hey, I want you to facilitate a two-day retreat, I do it, and then I see you later by.

Well, you will not see that continued growth and development unless we put some action steps in place. So I talk a lot about how do I follow up and how do I continue to provide support.

And Sarah, even if it’s simply me sending best practices and articles that I’ve collected to the CEO or to the leadership team. So how can I keep things fresh? And that’s always my commitment to my clients is it’s not just retreat, see you later by. I’m here as a resource and I’m here as a tool to keep that learning and development going.

Sarah Tenisi: I think that’s got to be the trickiest part about being in any type of consultancy or services business, right? You really put everything you have into making a team successful. I had something similar where we did an IT assessment and a two-year roadmap for a team.

And I called the IT manager back and said, hey, are you doing anything on the roadmap? Was it helpful? Because it’s hard to craft something that you care so deeply about and then turn it over to someone. There’s that trust again, where it’s like, okay, you’ve got it.

And I think that follow up is really important because I think the leadership work that you do needs to stay top of mind or else you fall into those same old habits of not listening, of not knowing that we all communicate a little bit differently and we need to give each other space to do so. I think that kind of as a follow up question to that is it feels to me like leadership styles change or can change and it feels like there are ways that leaders need to change to address.

I don’t know if it’s just our culture. I don’t know if it’s different in Silicon Valley than it might be in other areas of the country or even in Europe. You had talked to me about that another time. But it feels to me like different things are being asked of leaders depending on what’s going on in the world.

If I think about COVID, it feels like empathy is a big deal right now. And so how do leadership styles change? Are there things that impact how leaders need to grow and change?

Kristi Royce: Great question, Sarah. And I would say in direct relation to COVID right now, you’re absolutely right. I mean, there are I would say a number of skills and priorities that leaders must have in order to build effective cultures right now and have this employee engagement that we’re talking about. Number one, they have got to be proactive with their efforts.

Employees need to know that their leaders care. And that really comes from taking the time to over communicate, taking the time to ask the questions, how are you doing and really meaning it? You know, when’s the last time you ever had a conversation about an employee about their home life and their dogs jumping across the screen?

You know, it’s new. It’s different. And we have to have the calmness and we have to have the courage to really show up and allow that to happen. So again, be proactive, over communicate, completely show that you care and going back to being vulnerable.

You know, people are having a hard time in this shelter in place and work from home right now. And when leaders show up and say, I’ve got my a game all the time, a game on all the time, it’s not going to work. Let people know that you’ve made mistakes. Let people know that this is this is arduous for you and this is stressful for you.

It opens up the door to conversations and also really be willing to adapt and adjust because needs are changing. Both individual needs, team needs and business needs. And sometimes I talked about earlier that that optimism can lead to naive. You need to be optimistic, but you also need to have your pulse on the business and a pulse on what’s going on for your individuals, for your teams as well.

Sarah Tenisi: So that I feel like is a balance that I have a hard time finding sometimes, right? As I really want to be empathetic and we’re all in COVID together and you’re right. It’s so different, right? People have their kids taking classes, you know, especially if you’ve got a kindergartner, I feel so bad for those people because that seems really tough.

+So now you’re your homeschooling kind of, but a lot, right? And your pets are there, your kids are there, everybody’s there. I guess like for me, it’s tough to find that balance between, hey, we’re running a business here and I really care about you. And so are there any tips or tricks to kind of get people kind of together on that? You know, it’s not all about the employee. It’s not all about the business. How do you find that balance?

Kristi Royce: Well, you know, it’s interesting because I think when we all started in late March, the shelter in place, it was, oh, let’s have Friday, happy hours. So we just pull everybody in and have a conversation. People are done with Friday, happy hours. It’s true. It’s not working anymore.

Yeah. So I would say that, but you know, I have one client that really has had great success that he simply has CEO office hours where he says every Tuesday from one to four, I am going on Zoom and I’m here for anybody that wants to open up and chat. You know, that’s been really effective.

I also think a second best practice that I would share is you’ve got to adjust your meetings. You know, so I have a client that has daily check-ins. It’s five minute check-ins. What’s your priority today and what’s your biggest challenge of the day? So you need to ensure alignment because you’re not having those water cooler conversations. You’re not walking by somebody’s desk to say, hey, what are you working on that do you need any help?

So those five minute daily check-ins can be really stress releasing for people. And then you need to also have your weekly meeting so that everybody’s aligned. The big challenge that I’m seeing is lack of clarification and lack of alignment. And that’s when people can get really frustrated. So again, different meeting management can lead to greater communication and collaboration and therefore less stress.

Sarah Tenisi: And more balance in that business and home life. You know, it’s hard because I feel like we talk a lot about that work-life balance and it’s even harder when you’re basically stuck at home and separated.

So those frequent check-ins kind of help bring it home and keep things running together. It feels like, you know, the business piece and the empathy piece. So if we are going to leave the audience with a takeaway, a nugget of what it takes to build a great leadership team, could we boil it down to a couple of key takeaways for the audience here?

Kristi Royce: There’s so much to share. My mind is like, it’s like, okay.

Sarah Tenisi: I know. I was like, I probably had 10 as I was asking the question, so I get it. But you know, is it empathy right now? Is it listening? Is it collaboration?

Kristi Royce: You know what comes up for me, Sarah, is really, to be honest, one of my core values. And that’s passionate engagement.

And as leaders, if we can be passionately engaged with each individual on our team, with our clients, with our colleagues, you will have much greater success. And I will say you will eliminate a lot of stress as well.

Sarah Tenisi: I love it. I love it. Be passionate. Convey that passion. And that’s how we’ll get there together.

Sarah Tenisi: Thanks for listening to Tech Me Seriously with Sarah Tenisi. You can connect with Sarah on LinkedIn at Sarah, T-E-N-I-S-I, or you can send her an email at Sarah@tenisitech.com. I’m Marker Sedwards. I produced this episode. So until next time, cheers for now.