How do you help people bring their whole selves to work? Just ask Claude Silver, the Chief Heart Officer at VaynerMedia. She oversees wonderful people and their heartbeats, and the experience they have within the four walls of the office and even in life. What happens when you make people feel like they belong, that they’re appreciated and that they’re here to do some incredible, innovative work that excites them? More than you can imagine.
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Connecting one on one
Part of the job description of Chief Heart Officer is, naturally, spending time with people. Claude will either proactively reach out to people, or they will reach out to her, and they spend 15 minutes together. She asks how it’s going, what’s going on, what they’re excited about, and, most importantly, if there’s anything she can help them with because that’s where curiosity and creativity come into play.
Usually, conversations are about challenges they’re facing, so she goes into every conversation holding two things in her hands: in one hand, non-judgment. In the other, action.
“On or off the island,” i.e., favoritism, kills cultures. If you’re saying you’re good today, and today you’re on my island, but tomorrow I kick you out for no reason, it breeds toxicity, gossip, cynicism, and negativity that your people will most definitely feel. It affects people.
A lot of what drives this is fear that stems from a lack of self-awareness. We’re worried that if we’re ‘found out’ for who we really are, we’ll be made to leave. This situation leads to hostile, secret-keeping behavior, where everyone keeps their guards up because we’re in a workplace that won’t accept us. It’s heartbreaking.
Long ago, jobs were about muscle. Today, you need brains. But tomorrow, they’ll be about heart. And tomorrow is here.
When there are disciplinary issues and it’s time for tough love, Claude shares that she practices radical candor. She’s going to give it to you straight, and she’s going to give it to you nicely. You can still be a kind human being and tell people specifically what’s up — and then together, work out a specific action plan.
If we put our hearts and minds into our human beings, we will have a knock on success. Not just internally, but to our consumers as well.
The #HumansFirst Club Movement
The idea of opening your heart at work is very relevant today. It is just what works. And people are clamoring for HumansFirst Club to come to their cities because they haven’t had the bravery yet: they haven’t found their voices, or they have, and nobody is listening. So a call for HumansFirst is people’s first step in finding ways to have that conversation with their board, CEO, or managers.
As leaders, we are guides, not heroes. If you’re in a leadership role, it isn’t your show. You’re there to coach the people around you.
Resources for Claude Silver
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