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Human Comes Before Resources (Tom O’Brien) Transcript

To Lead is Human – Episode 37

Human Comes Before Resources (Tom O’Brien)

Tom O’Brien: You got to lead from the heart, you got to lead from caring about others, you got to lead from really thinking the best all the time, being optimistic, while at the same time, being pragmatic about hey, here’s the situation we’re in and we need to really think about it and be honest with each other and transparent to others as well.

Sharon Richmond: Welcome to the 33rd episode of To Lead is Human. I’m Sharon Richmond. And for more than 30 years, I’ve run a company called Leading Large, dedicated to helping C-level executives lead more impactfully. When we work together, we clarify priorities, energize their organizations, and build cultures of accountability and respect.

In this podcast, you’ll hear ideas to help you supercharge your leadership by introducing you to real life execs who’ve intentionally built organizations where the customers, the business, and the employees all thrive together. These successful executives illustrate the principle of leading large. They know that as leaders, the power that comes with their position demands an equal measure of responsibility to their customers, employees, shareholders, and communities. In each episode, we have the opportunity to learn from the challenges and successes they’ve experienced on their leadership journey.

My guest on the show today is Tom O’Brien. Tom is currently the Vice President of Human Resources at Trinchero Family Estates, a winery. He began his career in human resources at Nestle Foods, goodness, I’m not even going to say in what year, just out of respect, Tommy, and has since forged such an extensive leadership career, increasing title and scope. But I think all in the food and beverage industry, if I’m correct. Tom got his bachelor’s in business management from the University of Illinois, and he serves as a leadership mentor for others, supporting them on their own leadership development journey.

Welcome to the show, Tom. I’m so glad you’re joining us today. And I’m really looking forward to talking about some of the challenges you’ve overcome and the insights you’ve gained along your leadership journey.

Tom: Thank you, Sharon. That was very nice. Very nicely put.

Sharon: So let’s start out. If you could just kind of walk us through, like, what was the first leadership role that you think really tested your mettle? You know, when it may be your first time as a VP or something. And then what were some of the successive roles you’ve had along the way? Let’s just give people a bit of a backdrop.

Tom: I’ve had a career, which is really what I would consider ladder-oriented. I’ve been in human resources the whole time. In terms of my career, it was a place that I wanted to be because when I started off, I believe it was the place where I could have the biggest impact on an organization; this idea of working through people and with people to make a difference. I think that was like an early insight that I really didn’t know where it would take me. But I said, you know what, this is what I want to do with my career.

And I purposely took low paid jobs just to get some experience in my profession. And I just did all the hustle things that you do in order to kind of make a difference. And along the way, I would always be asked a question of, what do you think? And always had the ready answer. I said, well, here’s what I think. It’s X and Y and Z, and whatever the circumstance was.

And I think it’s that back and forth, always being challenged by someone or something that really kind of helped me broaden my experiences and think more broadly about what was going on. And so if I think about that, it’s kind of those early challenges. And then, as I moved up in my career, the wanderer in me came out.

So I was willing to take jobs in other cities and in other places where you end up someplace essentially by yourself. And it’s like, well, how do I make this change? What does this change look like and what do I have to do in order to be successful in this role, in this place? And quite often it was with a different company.

So I left my home in Chicago and came back and moved to St. Louis, then moved to Los Angeles, then moved to San Francisco, then moved to Miami and then moved to– you know, so continually on the move. And so always being challenged in a way where I had to change my thinking as time went on.

Sharon: So what was the first of those VP roles? Where were you then?

Tom: I think the first leader, I’ll call it you’re on your own kind of roles, was with Clorox. And so, it’s a situation where my wife, Reggie, and I were living in the Bay Area, and she sadly passed away after an illness. And Clorox kind of said in their wisdom said, you know what, Tom, I want to make a change or go in a different direction.

And so they said, hey, we don’t want you to leave the company. Would you be willing to take on another role? And I kind of said, you know what, maybe given the circumstance that I’ve gone through and what I’m dealing with, I’m in a situation where, yeah, I should do that. And so, they essentially gave me the head of HR for their Latin American division. And so I moved away from the Bay Area where we were living at the time to Miami.

And while the job was a wonderful job, it was fantastic, and a lot of great experience; everything about it was wonderful, it was a situation where I probably didn’t do what I would advise many people to do. And that is don’t run from something, run to it. And so this was a classic, I’d call it the classic fail, you know, when you kind of think you go, hey, all these memories in the Bay Area, all this life that we had and what we had planned to do and all of these things were now gone.

So it was like, get away from the memories. Here’s a great opportunity. You should just take it. Well, yeah, you take it. And now, you’re yet again in another place where you don’t have the support system that we had in the Bay Area. You don’t have the place that you can actually call your own. You’ve got all this new stuff. And being a single parent, which is what I was at that time, now you’re really out on your own and you’re responsible for another human being. And how do you actually make that work?

And so the lesson was, again, really be thinking about what are you doing from the standpoint of how are you moving ahead? How is this helping me? And while it was a great job, and career wise, it probably helped me kind of get to where I am today, it’s like, it probably wasn’t the best move for me and I regretted it at various points. And so that was like a different place where I essentially went back in time. I essentially took a demotion to take another job to go home to Chicago, which was the start of a to journey instead of a from journey, which for me is important.

Sharon: And the to, besides having that family support in the Chicago area, what was the role you took on there?

Tom: I took on a role as like a director of HR for a can manufacturing company, and they were based in Chicago. They needed support on that side of it. I had experience in that place. So it got me home, which is where I needed to be. So a wonderful to experience. I mean, it was a good job. Don’t misunderstand me, but it was a different direction in my career.

Sharon: I think there is, like, I love the leadership lesson that you pulled from this though, which is I have to make sure my personal life can work in order to thrive in my business life and vice versa.

Tom: Yes.

Sharon: And that, I think, is such an important realization. So once you got there and you were in this director role, then I know that you took another role at a higher level. How long until that took place?

Tom: It was probably about 18 months when I worked at that company and realized that we were not best suited for each other. They had a different value system than I did in terms of like things that I would be willing to tolerate. So we essentially had conversations about, listen, we’re not aligned in terms of things that matter. And these are real things that matter in terms of how to think about life.

And so we kind of came to a mutual agreement about, I think it’s time for me to leave. And so that’s what I did. And it was almost serendipitously that I meet someone else who introduces me to the job that I get with the beverage alcohol company that I work for. And so I essentially left place A and stumbled into place B, and it was a much better match in terms of like, what are we trying to do, where are we trying to go, and what’s that all mean?

Sharon: And so what was that match that you felt like, ah, this is better? Where were you aligned in that situation that hadn’t been before?

Tom: Well, they were really needing someone who could come in and help them change. And if I think about areas of expertise, it’s like, I’m very big on the change front. It’s like my career has always been built around, I get into a situation and the job is to make it better. And how do you make it better? And it’s things like that. And they wanted to do it in a way, which would be what I would call more principled than the previous employer that I was with. And so be able to do things that far more fit who I was as a person.

Sharon: And what were some of those principles that started to create that foundation for you?

Tom: I called it my 7Ps plus one; I guess is the way I think about it. And for me, the 7Ps are really about these things, and obviously, they all start with P to a degree. And so the number one thing is always about performance, like you got to get stuff done. If you’re not getting the stuff done, then you’re not moving things forward and that just isn’t going to work.

The second one is really being principled. You have to make commitments, keep commitments, and you have to really kind of think about how things work and make sure that your word is good and all those kinds of things. And being straight with people and transparent. So if you ask me a question, I’m going to give you an answer. And you might not like it, but you’re going to get it.

And it’s one of those, you know, being process oriented is important, but not so bureaucratic that it becomes difficult for people to understand or deal with. And you’ve got to plan your way through things because the best strategies are going to not work out unless you can execute them.

Being passionate about two things. In my profession, I’m passionate about human resources. I can’t imagine doing anything else. And I’m also passionate about the customers that I’m serving. What does that actually look like? And then there’s perseverance. I’ve heard no more often than anybody else in the world, but you have to just stick with it and come back and make it work for you. And so you go under, over, around, through; however you got to get there, you just keep after it.

And then of course, hey, what we do is not rocket science. There’s a lot of fun you can have, P-H-U-N, and that’s how we kind of round it out in terms of like, hey, come on, let’s not take ourselves too seriously about how we think about it. And then the plus one is really the partnership. You don’t do anything by yourself. There’s always this idea of you’re working with others and through others. And without those others, you’re not going to make it very far. And it’s all those things put together.

Sharon: I like that. It’s a very organized and structured way to think about the principles.

Tom: It doesn’t always look like that in real life.

Sharon: No, of course not because real life is chaotic and messy, but a list can always look neatly structured.

Tom: Yes.

Sharon: So thank you for sharing the list. It reminded me that I know when you were running HR at that company at Barton, during some period of time there, the company was acquired. And I wondered, what did you learn before that happened, and what did you learn during the time of the acquisition, in terms of how to improve your leadership?

Tom: Well, it’s in those areas of change that you really need to know kind of like, what’s going on and the idea of there’s a lot of a people that takes place during an acquisition. And the company was really a serial acquirer of companies, really, at that time. And what we were really working on was putting two halves of a beer business together.

And so, we were essentially responsible for one half of the country, and we were essentially taking on the other half of the country. And so, all of the disruption that kind of goes along with, we don’t have a lot of knowledge about place A from a business perspective. And we don’t really understand, like, who are all these people that we might think about acquiring or thinking about.

So you have to really have a really good way of determining what your needs are. And how do all these things fit culturally with your organization and what does that look like?  And so, the upheaval that comes from that makes it really important that you are thinking straight about what matters to you from a business perspective, on the people side of it, and on the process side of it, and then ultimately on where are we ultimately taking this business.

Sharon: And I’m just thinking, like, I guarantee you, there are people listening that are like, gosh, I don’t know how I would help lead such an integration of an acquisition, two halves of a business. What did you learn about how to do that in a way that worked for the people, both the customers and the employees?

Tom: Well, it really started with, first of all, having a really good plan about what are the steps in terms of really understanding the business that you’re taking on. In this particular case, it wasn’t a different business; it was really a different part of the company. But it was being managed by a company that was very different in terms of how they thought and how they managed.

So we needed to be very careful in terms of as we took our steps of communicating what our plans were going to be, so we were very transparent about planning and communicating those plans in terms of the steps that we were going to take, in terms of how are we going to integrate the business to start with, and what were those tools that we were going to use? How are we going to staff that business? What was it going to look like in terms of all the levels? And then, how we went about actually filling the slot, like from a human resources perspective, I mean, what it actually looked like.

So there was a lot of steps in terms of making sure that we chose the right people and put them in the right jobs for them to be successful, and it was a lot of iteration. And it wasn’t perfect, that’s for sure. So we learned that it’s going to be messy and you’re going to make mistakes.

Sharon: Yeah. That integrating of an acquisition, I mean, there are so many things that have to be integrated. And at least from my own experience, sometimes what companies forget about is integrating the people practices, and culture. And so how did you ensure that what was special about the culture that you had initially wasn’t lost during the integration period?

Tom: Well, we’d spent a lot of time talking to their executives, their executive team, people that was in there and in their organization about things that we didn’t really understand, like certain markets and how they went to them and what did it look like. And they were open and willing to talk with us, which was positive. And that’s how we really kind of learned about who are these people. And so that was almost like part of the process, I mean, at the beginning.

And through that interaction, we were able to determine kind of like, well, who seems to fit with the way we thought about the business and the way the business could be successful. And we also thought about, you know, to your point about the practices in terms of how do they actually approach it. We find out some things that kind of reinforced for us why we were chosen for the business and they weren’t.

And it had a lot to do with our people processes, and the way we thought about the business, and how we approached it, and how we communicate with our people, how we actually interacted with the market. We were very close to our distributor partners at the time and they thought that we were great because we were continually reviewing our methods in the market and whether or not those methods made sense and how we communicated with the market.

Sharon: Just for our listeners, I first met Tom back in that period of time, just before that acquisition integration. And what I remember about the culture of your organization was keen, very passionate, commitment to customer support and customer service in that distributor community. And that isn’t something that necessarily translates well in all businesses. So it can be seen as over personalized, I guess I’ll say, by some who might judge.

But I think the flip side of that over personalized, if you will, and I’m not saying it was over personalized, but just that very intimate customer relationship, it really cultivated so much loyalty for your business. And the employees felt loyal as well, as I recall, because they had the close relationships with the customers. And so everybody felt a lot of accountability for how that business works. Is that a fair recollection?

Tom: That is a very fair recollection. And I think it is part of the natural layering of the business, I guess, is the way to think about it. You know, beverage alcohol is built around a three tier system. So there are a lot of partnerships that have to work in order for it to be successful. And we always joke about, well, in our business, we have to sell something three times. So we have to sell it to a distributor partner who actually sells it to a customer; so think of a grocery store or a mom and pop liquor store or a restaurant or something like that.

And then they, in turn, have to sell it to the ultimate consumer. So without a really good relationship back and forth, good communication, good plans, good everything where we’ve kind of aligned the various networks, you’re not going to be successful. And so, all that is done through people. When you think about it, it’s these partnerships and making sure the relationships are really strong between them.

Sharon: What’s a good story about one of those things? Can you think of a good transition story? Because what I’m thinking about is every company I know, all the leaders I know, they want a company where trust is paramount, where people feel trusting of the leadership, and leadership is trusting of the team members. But I don’t think that’s so easy to do. So what do you think you’ve done, uniquely, either there or elsewhere, to help cultivate that sense of intimacy with other humans?

Tom: Well, the best example I have would be where I’m here now with Trinchero Family Estates. I mean, this company is so centered on employees; it’s a joy in the day. And the example I would give is California has been very much in the news, especially Northern California; fires and things are really changing and things like that. And when we look back on some of the years that we had that were complete tragedies, where there were big fires, people lost homes, things like that, what makes a difference here is our employees know that we have their back.

So, they can count on the company coming to assist them in times of need, so some kind of hardship. So, when I referred to fires earlier, we had employees who lost their homes. And we were there to help backstop to make sure that they were safe, that they had a place to live. We help them rebuild and all through the company’s willingness to provide resources that aren’t necessarily scripted.

Yeah, everybody has life insurance programs and they have accidental death and dismemberment, but we have programs, which are really built around, no, I’m going to give you a gift and that gift’s going to be money in order to help you get from place A to place B. And in our community, we’re very engaged and very involved as an organization. And so people know that, hey, Trinchero Family Estates is going to be there when there’s an emergency or a need. So the local hospital gets resources and the places where our employees live and work, they get resources. A lot of philanthropy in the world.

So people know that they can count on us. And then if I think about a career, we’re an organization built around longevity. And so we fund way more profit-sharing dollars into people’s 401ks. So when it comes time to retire, they can, and they can do it in a way where it makes sense.

Sharon: What I hear you highlighting is a commitment to not just the employees, but the community. And that really does, I think, build that stronger sense of loyalty. So we kind of skipped from your Chicago life to your California life. Did we miss anything important in terms of job transitions along the way?

Tom: Well, when I was working with the beer company, I was lucky enough to go from Chicago to upstate New York and become the wine person. So staying with the same company. So my wife, Gina and I, and our daughter, Alex, and then our son, Aiden, we all moved to upstate New York and I’m the international guy flying all around the world and be away from home.

So this idea of the family and how we all kept it together, it was like a very different experience and a very enjoyable one in terms of like how we keep that kind of going. But Constellation at the time decided that maybe this international business isn’t the best idea. And so I worked with them closely on how do we sell this business, recognizing that that was going to cause a change for myself.

But it was like the right thing to do. It was a business that wasn’t really working the way they wanted it to work. And so I helped them actually sell the international business to a private equity. And we were asked, hey, would you be willing to move to Australia to become part of the management team for this thing? And after a lot of consultation, my wife, kids, everything, and going there visiting, we kind of said, yeah, no, it’s a bridge too far in terms of that.

And so when it came right down to it, we all decided that the better strategy is to part ways. And so from there it was, so our family unit living in the country in upstate New York, and we’re kind of city kids going, oh brother, now what are we going to do? So that was a big thing about trying to find the next thing.

And the next thing kind of came around, I became a consultant for a year. And I had some fun experiences working for some different companies. So the importance of the network is so critical in life; having a network, keeping that network up and never closing off any door. So I came in contact with the person who was actually recruiting for the job with Trinchero  Family Estates. And that’s how, through a variety of conversations, that’s how I ended up here.

And what they were looking for is a person who was a change agent who could help them evolve as an organization because we’re not a small company, but we want to stay small. So what attracted me to this job was we want to grow and develop as a company without losing our soul.

Sharon: I can understand why that was the magnet that pulled you.

Tom: Oh, yeah. This is like dream. Am I in a dream? Poke me. And so my wife Gina and I kind of talked about it and said, yeah, going to California sounds like a great idea. And so we all moved to California and we haven’t looked back. It’s been great.

Sharon: And  how long have you been at Trinchero now?

Tom: Twelve years.

Sharon:  So the company’s grown quite a bit during the time that you’ve been there. So from what to what, in terms of employees, can you share?

Tom: The company has doubled, essentially, in size since I’ve been here. Now we’re about 1,200 regular employees. And then farm labor, we have about 300 more, 350 farm labor employees who help us with our vineyards and all the things that we do for growing grapes. I mean, at the end of the day, we’re farmers in a lot of ways. I mean, so it’s essentially farm to table is what we do.

And then we also have a 250 people who come in during harvest every year to help us process and turn grapes into wine. So it’s a fairly big operation. And when you put all the lives together, you’re talking about impacting probably the life of maybe four or 5,000 people when you think about extended family.

So we’re not a small operation, even though to the point about we want to stay small in the sense of how we connect with one another. And that matters. We spend a lot of time making sure people know that we’re there for them. We’ve got people who’ve been here for 40 years. They came out of high school and they still work here. And you all meet them. I’ll talk to them. It’s like, oh my gosh, it’s awesome.

Sharon: So, I’m wondering if it’s okay if we shift gears a little bit because I know you’ve described yourself before as a classic introvert.

Tom: Yes, definitely.

Sharon: And that seems not necessarily like the easiest starting place to be managing so many practices and people. So, what do you mean by a classic introvert and how does that affect the way that you lead?

Tom: Nobody believes I’m an introvert to start with. So, well, let’s start with that concept. And I think it’s because along the way, I figured out how to be more expressive than not. So it was getting over a fear of presentation or issues having to do with, no, you can stand in front of a group of people and you can be effusive about it. You can be kind of out there and leaning in and things like that.

But at the same time, I need to really think about things leading up to it. So I do spend a lot of time thinking about what is it that we’re trying to accomplish in this moment? What’s needed from me in this moment? And what are like those two or three themes? So it’s almost like the 7Ps that we talked about; it’s laid out. So it’s like me off the cuff? Not pretty. Me after thinking about it for like five minutes? Okay, much better.

So it’s like understanding limitations and understanding like what’s necessary and what needs to happen, things like that. And so when I prepare, as the old Covey saying says, what’s the end game? What is it that I’m trying to kind of come up with? So we’re starting at 50,000 feet and then these are the 15 things that we have to do in order to make this work.

Sharon:  And I think from our previous conversation, I walked away with the impression that you elicit a lot of input from people in the company, so it’s not just you sitting alone in a room. How do you know how much to gather? Who do you gather from as you’re trying to sort this out? And how do you influence the rest of your executive team?

Tom: Yeah, for me, it’s all about wandering around. So I don’t spend a lot of time in an office necessarily. It’s like I’m out on the production floor. I’m out in the wineries. I’m interacting with my customers in terms of, if I think about my role in this company, sure, I’m the head of human resources. I’ve got this fancy title and all that kind of stuff, but at the end of the day, I’m an HR person responsible for the sales organization.

So I interact with salespeople all the time. So I have my finger on the pulse of that organization because I’m their HR person. For all of the, everything from, hey, my health insurance doesn’t work up to, hey, we’re going to reorganize. It’s like, that’s the job I do. And I have my colleagues who spread out and they work in different groups and we get together on a regular basis talking about, well, what’s the pulse out there? What’s it feel like?

And then we all kind of interact and interchange. And so, and you’re picking up little tidbits about how to do certain things. When I look at it, I break it down in three ways. We have an organizational responsibility at the top level. Then we have a group level responsibility. And then we have individual responsibilities.

And we have to work at each one of those levels all the time. And so thinking about the complexity around that, how do I make a difference in each one of these places? That matters. If I’m moving an organization, I have to do it fairly broadly, starting with what’s my strategy, and then working my way down to how am I going to implement it.

Or I can go from the bottom up. I can say, let’s start at the group level and work our way up to the organization, depending upon what is it that we’re trying to create. And so the interaction that I have with all of my colleagues kind of like gets us there in a lot of ways. And so bouncing things off one another and me leaving little clues, not exactly like saying it out loud, but kind of going, hey, well, you know, if you ask good questions, people will start to think about things.

And so most of my time is now questioning, you know, asking questions as opposed to, hey, well, here’s an idea. So coaching through saying a little bit less and asking a little bit more, I guess, is probably the strategy that I use most now.

Sharon: Yeah, totally makes sense. People get better when you ask questions. They get better at thinking up answers.

Tom: I think that’s true for sure. Trust that they know. I mean, they know their business better than I do. That’s for sure.

Sharon: One question I like to ask every guest is the title of the podcast is To Lead is Human and what does that mean to you, Tom?

Tom: You’re getting me. When I’m in the room and I’m doing stuff, this is me. So, when you see me out on the street, this is the same guy. He’s not a different guy. He’s the exact same person. So, leading has to be genuine and authentic and true and really kind of like who you are, with all your foibles, all the things that make you, you.

And you have to overcome some of your foibles, too. And I’ve had to do that over the years. We just talked about you having all the answers. No, I don’t have all the answers. That’s for sure. And you have to rely on others. And it’s like, you got to get out there and you got to– we’re in the people business. And the people business is a contact sport.

And so if you’re not willing to interact with people, forget it. It’s like, you’re not going to be successful. And so you got to lead from the heart. You got to lead from caring about others. You got to lead from really thinking the best all the time, being optimistic while at the same time being pragmatic about, hey, here’s the situation we’re in and we need to really think about it and be honest with each other and transparent to others as well.

Sharon: That’s great, Tom. And that’s very much how I think about it as well. So I appreciate your articulation. A last tip you have for leaders out there, if you can think of one, something you love to tell the CEOs you work with?

Tom: It’s always the same thing. It’s like, where are you trying to get to? What are you trying to achieve? It’s like, where’s your to? It’s always, you got to be going to it; to it, towards it; whatever word you want to put in there. I mean, if you’re not doing that, you’re kidding yourself. That’s for everybody. I mean, it’s not just the CEOs, it’s every single person.

Sharon: That’s great. Well, thank you so much, Tom, for joining me today. I do love our conversation. So thanks for sharing some stories with us and inspiring our audience.

Tom: It was my pleasure. And thank you for the time and thank you for the friendship over the years.

Sharon: If listeners want to get in touch with you or learn more about you, where do they go and how do they find you?

Tom: They can find me on LinkedIn, Tom O’Brien on LinkedIn.

Sharon: And it’s an unusual spelling of O’Brien. So if you’re looking for Tommy, look under I-E-N. Alright, well thanks again, Tom, for being here. Really, really appreciate it.

Tom: Sure, take care.

Sharon: Talk to you soon.

Tom: Bye.

Sharon: Please stay with us for a moment and I’ll share some takeaways from my conversation with Tom and a new coaching tip to help you up level your own leadership starting today.

First and foremost, Tom called out the importance of running towards something rather than running away from something. He recognized early on that his chosen field of work would be working through and with people to successfully move businesses forward. And he persisted in moving toward that goal through a series of roles, not all of which were promotions and has eventually created a great role for himself, his family, and for the company he’s been helping to build for the last 12 years, which leads to point two, Tom recognized early on, because of circumstances in his life that he had not expected, that to excel at your work, your personal life has to work well first.

He realized in the moment that he was running away, rather than toward something in a particular job, that he had actually made things harder for himself and his family. After that, Tom pursued changes that helped him set up his life to work well while also making sure that each opportunity provided personal and professional growth. Third, Tom articulated a topic that I believe is key for all executive leaders; staying aware of and attending to the three different levels of organizational health and employee needs that are in every organization.

First of all, there’s the organization wide level, which is all the players. Second, there’s the group level, which is each group within. And third, the individual level. Being mindful of these three layers will help you and your executive team craft the most effective plans for implementing the changes needed in your business. Because, if you think about it, for your organization to successfully change, you need many individuals to change how they think, the processes they follow, and their day to day behaviors.

So here’s your tip. We know by now, and we’ve talked about in many episodes, that executives are primarily responsible for creating the conditions in their organizations where folks can thrive. And you need to inspire folks to want to make the necessary changes that will help your organization thrive. So, here’s your practice. With your executive team at one of your next meetings, set aside 30 minutes to reflect on the issues and needs at each of these three levels. Let me give you a sample question for each one.

Organizationally, think about where in the organization are people energized and where is friction in the organization inhibiting progress? At the group level, are the individual groups engaging with and including their members effectively? Are they finding out the hidden knowledge their team members have? And are they able to make effective decisions? And at the individual level, are there any people who need specific attention or focus, whether it’s to accelerate their growth so they can take on a higher role or to remediate some less effective behaviors?

Once you’ve listed the issues and needs at each level, again, as an executive team, identify the one or two priority topics you need to address short term, medium term, and longer term, and then factor them into your current annual operating plan.

I’m Sharon Richmond, and this has been To Lead is Human. You can find out more about me at That’s L-E-A-D-I-N-G large dot com. To Lead Us Human is part of the Mirasee FM podcast network, which also includes such shows as Course Lab and Making It. This episode was produced by Cynthia Lamb. Andrew Chapman assembled the episode, and Marvin Del Rosario was the audio editor. Danny Iny is our executive producer.

I’d hate for you to miss an upcoming episode, so please follow us on Mirasee FM’s YouTube channel or on your favorite podcast player. If you learned anything useful today, I’d ask you to do two things. First, take a minute and comment on it and leave us a starred review so others know what you learned. Second, share it with your colleagues. The more leaders we can reach, the better for everyone. Thanks for listening. I will see you next time on To Lead is Human.