Erica Keswin is a business strategist who has worked for the past 25 years with some of the world’s most iconic brands as a consultant, speaker, author, and professional dot-connector. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Huffington Post and more. She’s also a three-time bestselling author. In this episode, Erica shares valuable information on how to transform YOUR company into a vibrant and powerful place to work.

A valuable trait of leadership is empathy:

“We have up to five generations working at any one time in the workplace today. People are living longer, which is great, they’re working longer, which I also think is great, but we come at this “work thing” from very different perspectives. And so, a leader who really can lead with curiosity – I often say,
‘Be an anthropologist. You don’t need to figure it all out. But an anthropologist sits back and seeks to understand and question, and asks questions, versus assuming that they know it all.’”

How much vulnerability should a leader show their team?

“(Since) I wrote ‘Bring Your Human to Work’ in 2018, which was well before we knew anything about COVID and everything that has happened since then … I often get the question, ‘Well, how much human?’ Well, it’s not necessarily putting everything, every ounce of your being on the table, especially in a work context. And I also think for everybody it’s going to be a little bit different when we think of the continuum of where you’re comfortable. So, you certainly can start small.”

The most important benefit of vulnerability:

“If my boss says that it’s hard for her or for him, and she doesn’t know all the answers, I (as an employee) might be willing to do the shame and also share that I don’t have it all figured out, versus pretending that I do and possibly hurting a client situation. So, that’s really the cascading effect of leaders being vulnerable and creating a space where their employees can be a little bit more human themselves. And I do think it has positive impacts on people, but also the business.”

How to stay on top of a hybrid or remote work environment:

“Make sure you are focused on outcomes and measuring performance. Because I think (leaders often say), ‘Oh, I feel like productivity is going up,’ or ‘I feel like it’s going down’ … maybe depending on your demographic you just assume that nobody is working at home. You need to measure performance so you can really look at those things!”

How to know if you have the correct company values:

“The way that I often talk to people about seeing if these (workplace) values are real and come to life is this litmus test that I call ‘the fork in the road.’ So, you’re at this fork in the road and do you hire this person, fire this person, do this deal, take on this client … all these different business decisions. Your organizational values should help drive those decisions, and if they don’t either you have too many and nobody knows what they are or maybe you have the wrong ones.”

How to have tough conversations with your boss:

“When you’re in a situation where it’s a really hard topic, just do your homework. If something happened and you come to your boss and say, ‘Look, I messed this up but here’s what I did (to try and solve it).’ Really do your homework and say, ‘I tried this, I tried that, I circled back,’ and show that you really put in the effort versus coming in and putting the problem on your boss’s desk without showing the steps that you’re beginning to take or have taken to resolve it.”

Why rituals are important in the workplace:

“Rituals give us a sense of psychological safety and belonging, rituals give us an opportunity to connect to purpose (and we’ve talked a lot about the importance of purpose and meaning at work). You add those two together and you get increased performance. And so, there really is a business case for figuring out ways to be connected at work.”