From the Heart(beat): Leadership tips for new managers

I share a few of my favorite latest leadership tips from CEOs, founders, and executives featured in our Heartbeat interviews.

What do you wish you’d learned earlier as a leader? Every two weeks, I ask this question to a CEO, founder, or executive I admire in our interview series, The Heartbeat. The answers are sometimes surprising, counterintuitive, or relatable — but always fascinating.

I thought I’d share a few highlights of the tips they have especially for new managers just starting out…

  • David Cancel is CEO of Drift, a sales conversational marketing platform with more than 10,000 customers. David has been an entrepreneur for most of his professional life, having started five companies before Drift. What does David wish he had learned earlier in his management career? It’s all about people:

“It’s 99 percent people and 1 percent everything else…I think basically it’s the communication…We don’t really understand that everyone is slightly different or wildly different and that they need to be communicated to in different ways and absorb information and communication in different ways.”

  • Elena Valentine is the founder and CEO of Skill Scout, a media company that helps transform hiring and recruiting for organizations through video. For Elena, figuring out her true leadership style was a struggle for her — and it started to click the moment she stopped comparing herself to other leaders.

“It took a really long time to realize that I was comparing myself to elephants when I was really a giraffe and I needed to find other dope giraffes. And that took me probably up until the end of last year to really follow my true north and see that I’m a giraffe, I’m proud to be a giraffe and there are businesses that are incredible, that are run by giraffes.”

  • Steve Larosiliere is the founder and president of STOKED, a nonprofit organization that helps teens stay out of trouble by getting them engaged in action sports. Most recently, Steve and STOKED were featured on NBC’s TODAY Show for the impressive work they’re doing. What does this nationally-recognized leader wish he had learned earlier?

Empathy. I feel like early in my career, I didn’t have good leadership role models. I thought leaders just barked orders. If they were the leader, and they had the vision, everybody needed to fall in line. That is completely wrong. I think I’ve developed empathy throughout the years, because I realized that by putting yourself in other people’s shoes, and knowing where they come from, and understanding who they are, their motivations, their drive, their strengths, their weaknesses, their hopes, their fears, if you get that, then you can work with people.

  • Katrina Markoff is the founder and CEO of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, an international chocolate company that exceeds $35MM in revenue annually. Katrina has also been featured on the Food Network, not to mention countless of publications like Fast Company, Inc, CNN, and Glamour. Having grown her company to 130 people and counting, Katrina gave some advice about the challenges that come with added people, structure, and hierarchy in a team:

“Sometimes having these titles makes people feel like they’re so much further away from you than truly they are. Just really approaching it on a human level like, “How are we doing this together? Let’s figure this out.” I think that empowers people when they know they have a voice to you, especially with people that are new.”

This just scratches the surface of what we’re learning from these inspirational leaders and executives. To hear their full stories, sign up for The Heartbeat, our free biweekly newsletter that touches on leadership, employee engagement, company culture and feedback.


Written by Claire Lew

CEO of Know Your Team. My mission in life is to help people become happier at work. Say hi to me on Twitter at @clairejlew.

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