Relationships at Work - Leadership Skills Guide to Create a Company Culture We Love

How To Plan For The Future Of Leadership Skills Training with Jen Buck

February 20, 2024 Russel Lolacher Episode 138
Relationships at Work - Leadership Skills Guide to Create a Company Culture We Love
How To Plan For The Future Of Leadership Skills Training with Jen Buck
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with author, speaker and master leadership trainer Jen Buck on planning for the future of leadership training programs.

Jen shares her insights and experience in...

  • Evolving expectations in the workforce
  • Leadership development is a shared responsibility
  • The importance of blended Learning solutions
  • Focus on power skills
  • The vital role of HR in leadership training
  • Embracing people-first leadership
  • The importance of adaptation and personalization in leadership training

And connect with me for more great content!

Russel Lolacher: And on the show today, we have Jen Buck. And here is why she is awesome. She's an award winning keynote speaker, bestselling author and certified master leadership trainer with over 25, 25 years of experience in talent development, helping to transform people into world class leaders. For those of you who like numbers, she's provided over 10, 000 programs in her career.

She's the Chief Operating Officer for the 100 Angels Foundation, which provides medical care to underserved communities around the world. She's a business development consultant helping organizations like Google, Verizon Wireless, and Coca Cola to name just a few. And she's here. Hello, Jen.

Jen Buck: I am and I'm so glad to be here. Thanks for having me, Russel.

Russel Lolacher: So today we're getting into not only leadership training, but specifically the future of leadership training and, and maybe some things leaders should be paying attention to. But before we do that, before we get into any of that, I have to ask you the question that I ask all of my guests, Jen, which is, what's your best or worst employee experience?

Jen Buck: Such a great question So, I think for me the, I don't know if I can label it good or bad, but it was probably the most impactful because I was a leader. I started my career first 10 years in a startup And it was in the first year of their inception or the first decade, if you will, their inception. So it was a really great environment, but we were all really young and green, right?

Because that's what that environment breeds. And I had this team that I was leading and I had a body odor issue. And I was young, I was probably 25, which does not bode well for having a lot of empathy, right? And so as it turns out, I had to have this conversation. Went to my boss and, and walked it through with her, felt really good about it, and it was as awful as you can imagine, right?

But, something so deep within me that was connected to empathy and, humanity and kindness came out of me that had never ever sprung before that moment. And it was the worst conversation I felt like I'd ever had. She started crying. I started crying. It was just horrible. It was horrible. But there was this wellness of humanity that came out of me.

And it literally changed the way I led from that point forward. It was all about empathy. It was all about this depth of humanity and treating people differently. So the worst situation to have to deal with ended up being really a turning point for me as a leader, you know, and, and for the rest of my career and for what I teach now, which is amazing.

And I guess there it is.

Russel Lolacher: I guess just to dig a little deeper into that scenario is the culture that surrounded that. So you're having a one on one, you're having a conversation with an individual, but that's not done in a silo. It's not done in a bubble. How did you handle the, you, you hinted of how horrible it was. How was the culture in receiving that?

And, moving forward in a scenario like that?

Jen Buck: So I was really fortunate to work in an environment that was highly progressive, a lot of young people that wanted a different culture. We didn't want corporate culture where we had to wear ties and skirts and pantyhose, right? So this was in a time where, this was far before corporate casual, this was far earlier than the kind of cultures that we see now.

And so I was getting complaints. And I knew it was an issue. I knew I could tell this was not something I had overlooked. So when it was brought to me enough times, I realized this isn't going away and I ended up going to my leader. In fact, the leader that brought me into the company when I was 18 years old and still going to college was the woman that I ended up going to seven years later to have this particular conversation.

We'd both moved. Through the organization, but I admired her so much in the way she'd always dealt with me. And I was a maniac, right? I mean, how can you be anything more or less when you're 17 or 18, I guess, to 25. So she was a great example of what I wanted to do in this conversation. And when I had the conversation and the woman started crying, I then knew that halfway through this, what do I then do? This was the question I didn't ask my leader. How do I tell people when they say, did you talk to her? Did you, did you tell her she has to wear deodorant? Did you tell, because these questions are going to come from employees, right? Bunch of young employees.

And I never thought of that. And I didn't know how to even. It was really chaotic in my head at the time because I didn't know what next would look like. But I'll tell you this woman, who was older than all of us, ended up bringing it up about two or three days later when we had a team meeting and she had told the team that she wasn't aware of it.

She had started new medication. We knew she'd been sick and it was the medication that was changing her chemistry, right? And she didn't know it because it had been so gradual. And so then she starts crying in the meeting. Now everybody's crying in the meeting. And it was just, thank God, because like I said, I forgot that part of the conversation.

Like what's part two? After I have it, what do I do with all the employees that are now questioning me? Did you have it? Did you have it? Did you have it? Because you cannot. You cannot tell the outcome of what occurred or you know what I mean, you've got to have some, you've got to have some protection for the employee and their vulnerabilities.

And so, yeah, that was pivotal for me, that whole thing. And it's funny, I just talked about it this week in a in an event that I was speaking at so it has resonated and stuck with me for a very long time.

Russel Lolacher: I can, I can tell. It's the funny thing is it's those ones, anytime I ask that question, any of my guests, it's always something that happened decades ago. It's always something, Oh, always it's either. It's either the event that was so bad that they became consultants Or it's the best one that put them on the trajectory, you know, consultants or in house where they just, it completely changed a mind shift for them. Um, that was pivotal for them. So thank you so much for sharing that.

Jen Buck: Hey, you're welcome.

Russel Lolacher: One of the things that's really changing it really seems anyway is, is leadership. It seems to be evolving of not only what leadership is, but the expectations of those being led.

So I kind of want to start there. If we're going to talk about leadership training, maybe we should talk about what leadership is changing from. So, how do you see the landscape of leadership evolving?

Jen Buck: Yeah, you know you talk about future of learning and development and there's a lot to be said for the future of leadership, right? Future of work. Future of employee expectations. We have a really dynamic workforce right now, where we have more generations at work than we've ever seen under one roof, right?

People are working longer, they're healthier, longer. And so they want to stay active and connected longer. So we've got a lot of people that are under one roof and the expectations of the youngest generation is that we are as leaders, more transparent. We are more inclusive, we are more progressive, we're more communicative, and equity matters to that generation, right?

Relationship, engagement, having a consistent footing to stand on daily matters to these people. That's not the way you and I were raised in business, right? I mean, we had these old dudes in business that were like sitting in their, in their, their little castles on high, and they could close their blinds anytime they wanted. And we all knew, oh, don't go in. And we were scared to death to ever say a word. And so while I don't think that's the norm anymore, sadly, we still have a lot of people where we find those behaviors can rise to the surface because it's what they were raised with in leadership, right? It's who their boss was at some point.

It's who their manager was. And so I think that this younger generation is forcing some of the older employees and leaders and managers, whatever level they're at to change the way that they interact, change the way that they engage. And I think it's so healthy. I'm, you know, I'm one of those hanger honors that, that thinks I'm still 25.

And I, I relate so much to younger people, younger generations. My, my friends are younger. I mean, I just, I love the energy and perspective of that young generation. And so I love that they're bringing it and I kind of love that my demographic, my generation, which would be Xers. I love that they're kind of uncomfortable because they always thought they were the coolest ones in the room.

And now the youngest generation's Hey, guess what? It's not so cool. You know, this isn't so great. So I'm kind of digging what I'm seeing, but it is pushing. leadership into a different realm. You know, they've got to develop those power skills and those power skills are people skills.

Russel Lolacher: The funny thing about the Gen Zeds, being Canadian, Gen Zed. Gen Zee, and Millennials is it's not... as a fellow Gen Xer, who's also 25 years old, I feel, I feel it's not, these are not things that we haven't wanted. We just didn't know you could say something. And something would get done because it wouldn't if we had voiced. It would be held against us, right?

If we ever voiced up. Not only is this generation being vocal, they will literally leave, which wasn't even fathomable for me and you.

Jen Buck: That's right. Do you remember when we were growing up in business that we did have to wear suits? We did have to wear jackets. We did have to wear nylons. We did have to wear all these crazy things, right? We had to. And when we just asked to dress casually on Friday, they looked at us like we were crazy, like, how dare we?

I mean, do you remember that? I remember that. And I remember also being in this space where they were like, forget it all. We're not doing any of this. Zero expectations. Just come in and do the work. And then I remember when we went to an open, an open, you know, working plan where we weren't all in offices anymore, where people were actually starting to be out among the people, you know, like I remember these shifts and changes and that people thought our company was kind of crazy, right?

Like my mom would say, I just, I can't believe it. I can't believe that you can just walk in or you can wear what you want. And that's the thing that I think Generation Xers, you know what? This is kind of reminding me of, of the boomers, the boomers who broke all the rules in terms of, you know, sex, drugs, and rock and roll changed the world.

And now they are the ones that were upholding the suit ties and ties and jackets, right? And so now here we are, Generation X, who hated rules, hated being told what to do, because we've been taking care of ourselves since we were 12, right? And now we're the gatekeepers. We're the gatekeepers, which is so interesting to me.

No, we're not the oldest generation in the workplace, but we have been told we're troublemakers for so long. That a lot of us... we're not fighting anymore and that's what our generation was really known for was, you know, don't label me. You know, I'm not going to fall into that.

Russel Lolacher: I think the definition of success changing has certainly been a part of that because I mean, I remember the whole dress for the job you want. That meant a lot different than we were in our twenties cause then it was suit and tie. For me now it's like Bermuda shorts. That's the job I want.

Jen Buck: 100%. Yeah. Yes.

Russel Lolalcher: It changed so much. And so if leaders are going to adopt, if they're going to look for training that makes them better as leaders, and I'm kind of, I want to ask this from on two levels. First, for those that are starting as leaders, what are some things they need to look at, but there's also us that have been traditionally shown, this is what success looks like, and this is what training looks like when that's not the case anymore?

Jen Buck: Yeah. So I really believe that and, and studies are showing it right now with what's happening in learning and development, leadership development, employee development is that we're going back to those power skills. And those power skills are, you know, empathy, self awareness, social awareness, emotional intelligence, collaboration, listening skills, the things that we would all say are soft skills, right?

So, knowing that is really important because that's not been necessarily our focus for the last 10 years. Technology has been right. And so I think if people are trying to get into the leadership game, they really need to... a couple of things here. One, they need to make sure that they're working with a company that values employee development, because you're not going to be a great leader if they don't have a great program, a great leadership and employee development program, right?

So I think that is really important. But I also do think it's important for people to realize that they don't necessarily have to depend on their company. Let's just say you've been somewhere for six years. They just don't have a great leadership program in terms of training. That doesn't mean that there aren't other options.

Maybe they'll pay for you to go, you know, through certain courses at the local university, maybe you can join in on some group coaching. There are leadership development coaches out there that put on, John Maxwell has a group coaching program for leaders, right? You can do one on one coaching. You might be able to go to conferences or seminars or, you know, get some books.

My point is to say, I think there's always a way. And it's our job to recognize that learning is a necessary part of the process of becoming a leader. You will never, ever take the learning out of leadership, ever. And two, you have to know what's really valued right now, where we've been very hyper focused on skill and technology for about the last five to ten years.

Now we're back to those soft skills, right? Power skills is what they, they really are called in the leadership world. And those power skills are the differentiator between good and great, period.

Russel Lolacher: So are you saying that maybe the organizations could take responsibility for the skills and competencies might be the role of the leader to try to try to figure out the best way forward? Because I always argue who should be responsible for this? And you kind of touched on on both basically is that the organization It's trying to look for these amazing people to hire, but then when they get them in, they kind of ignore them.

You're like, we'll do your onboarding. And then we won't talk to you again until your retirement. See ya. Do you think it's a an equal parts responsibility or do you think it leans one way or the other?

Jen Buck: I think that, so I, so I want to make sure that I am super, super clear here because I don't want anyone to feel like 'they're not developing me, so I guess I'm not ready'. No. I think there has to be a healthy amount of responsibility on the part of the emerging leader, right? On the person who wants to develop into another level of responsibility and, and skill.

So I do think that's really important. However, I am not letting my finger off or my thumb off the shoulder of organizations out there because too many organizations are not developing their people. And what we know is that this younger generation, actually youngest two generations, that would be Z, Zedd, and the Millennials.

You're welcome. I'm nodding. Yes. So Z and Zedd and the Millennials, they are absolutely convinced that it is the job of the organization to develop them. That's very different than what the Boomers and X ers are always told. We were told it was our responsibility. I'm saying this is a shared responsibility.

And if you look at what's happening right now in the executive leadership world. So one of the things I do is I coach executive leaders on a regular basis on leadership. And so I'm going to tell you what the chatter is right now, and this is whether you're looking at Forbes magazine or you're sitting in one of my coaching sessions, everybody's freaking out about the next generation of leaders.

Whose responsibility is that? Top leadership, executive leadership. So don't freak out, create a plan. And that is part of what I do is help executive leaders create these plans because you can't complain about your talent pool if you're not giving them something to enrich their skill set, right? So I have to say it's a healthy dose of both.

But again, I'm going to put my thumb a little bit heavier on the, on the employer, because they've got the funds and they know the game, they know what's going on.

Russel Lolalcher: What are the problems that we're having with existing leadership programs? Like where are we getting it wrong now that we might need to be looking as the canary in a coal mine to address in the future?

Jen Buck: You know I think right now what we're seeing is that there aren't enough... I'm going to say this blended learning solutions. So look, it's not, and I realize I'm, I'm, I'm really putting myself in a weird spot to admit this, but having just a training department or a training consultant, like me, only is not all the options that you have.

And it's not the best solution for everyone, right? So I come from a world where if you're going to get developed, you're going to get developed by either a trainer that's employed by the company or someone they bring in from the outside, like me, right? And frankly, not everybody learns the same way. Not everybody really likes learning in a public environment.

They want to take it in differently than other people, right? They want to take it in privately. They want to take it in a couple of times. They want to read it. They want to watch it. They want to listen, whatever it might be. And so I really think that this idea of blended learning, which in the L& D space, that's, that's what we call bringing in the elearning, bringing in the coaching, bringing in the AI, you know, platforms, bringing in the different types of, of gamification, let's say, where people are actually a character and they're running through, you know, a world and getting to learn new tasks and go to a new level.

All those things are important and it's not one size fits all. And you and I have been raised in a world where it was one size fits all, period, and you better hold on dearly. And that's why, by the way, I have a bunch of old people like us. No, a bunch of old people, you and I are 25, I forgot. A bunch of older people who have either a love or hate relationship with training.

There's no gray. It is love or hate. And it's because you and I were forced into a box, when we may not have really felt our best, our most intelligent, our most stable in that box, but we were forced because that was the only way to do it, right?

Russel Lolacher: So how does personalization come into that? Cause you're touching on that as the diversity side of things. Certainly generationally, we have been all over the map in how we're delivered these training programs, but we're also getting into globalization where we're dealing with a lot of people from completely different cultures, completely different ways of communicating.

How do we embrace that diversity when our budget only may allow us to do, X or Y or Zed because we can't have a more robust learning program?

Jen Buck: Yeah. So, I think that there are a lot of different solutions out there, and HR departments, are starting to really have these strong conversations with the executive leadership team about not only increasing the offerings and the style in which those trainings are offered. Whether it is online live, online in a training platform in pre recorded trainings, whether it's gamified or, you know, AI that really personalizes everything and lets you be in the driver's seat and go, go left when everyone else might be going right. I mean, you know, you've got all these great options. I think we're also seeing that ERGs are getting a lot more funding right now because of that personalized and very unique set of support systems that are needed, depending on the ERG that you're in. So I think that HR is our greatest advocate for having their finger on the pulse and telling executive leadership, 'Hey, listen, our people need something different.' So you're absolutely right. We've got people who are in different time zones, speaking different languages, dealing with completely different regions of the world and different types of customers, even with the same solution that they're all selling.

But just like any pair of shoes, not everybody's going to fit into the same shoe and not everyone's going to prefer the same heel on that shoe, right? So it really is about HR advocating for as many opportunities and options as they can and recognizing that if it's not something they can do in house, it's something that they can absolutely do with a coach, with an outside solution, right? I mean, there are lots of SaaS solutions out there that they can absolutely use somehow to create a more robust training environment for their people, whether it's in house or outside. Yeah.

Russel Lolacher: We've been a little big picture. I want to get a little granular here with you. From your experience, where are you seeing that leadership training programs may need to spending a little bit more time. I'll give you one example. Leaders are horrible at presenting that generally if from my experience, they're great report outs.

They're great at reading you back the PowerPoint presentation behind them, but they're horrible at storytelling or really getting emotion or engaging or understanding what an audience does. You're a, a well respected public speaker. You, you know that there is a huge skillset, but we still have leaders that will look at a presentation five seconds before they go to present it rather than rehearsing it. Rather than, you know, walking tempo.

So I'm thinking as presentation as a leader is a huge skillset that still isn't being embraced. Do you see anything else where we need to be, maybe being a little bit more pushing the button on.

Jen Buck: So I'm going to just sit for a second with what you just said, because it's probably where I make 30 to 40 percent of my money is in coaching executives for this global marketplace that we're all now in and an event. Industry that now says we don't need a bunch of motivational speakers. What we need are industry experts.

So instead of paying a motivational speaker X amount of dollars, let's just get this COO, CEO, you know, CMO in whatever it is. So you've got a bunch of really bright people who are great at running the business. But they absolutely suck at giving a presentation, telling a story, connecting with other people, being able to bring it all together, tie it in, and then motivate them to make change, right?

So I would say a good 30 to 40 percent of my business is actually teaching on a granular level how to tell those stories, how to loosen up and have a really well rehearsed joke that will land every time when you say it right here after you give a good fat pause, after that statistic. Like teaching them things that they never had to think about.

So I love that you brought that up because it is so important. And I think that our storytellers are now becoming the organizational leaders on these global platforms and leaders can't just get up there and talk about what's on a PowerPoint anymore or on a Google slide. Because you know. I paid too much for this.

I just send me your slides, right? So I love that you said that. The other thing I would tell you is that, we are seeing a big shift in the expectation, as we mentioned earlier, in terms of what employees expect from their leaders. And some companies are just not embracing that. Now there are some companies that are totally embracing this new idea of leadership, where you do have those power skills of empathy, emotional intelligence, collaboration, all that stuff that just is so juicy and great, who are accepting that. By the way, LinkedIn, where you and I met, LinkedIn has this extraordinary leader who believes that people should be, I think his name's Jeff Weiner, who believes that people should be compassionate to each other, but also rewarded for their compassion.

And he believes that people need to see their leader. And he spends every day, one to two hours a day, talking to his employees about anything but work. By the way Meta, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg... zuck's doing the same thing for an hour a day okay? Where did this all begin? It began with the Jack Welsh's of the world. Remember GE. He could tell you just about anything any stat personal stat about anybody from the person that is out sweeping, you know, in the, in the parking lot to the person that's, that's cleaning the doors. He could tell you information about those employees because he stopped long enough to ask them questions about their personal life.

We see that in Virgin, right? That Sir Branson's of the world have, have taken a good long look and seeing that this is the way that you treat people. You treat them with compassion. You treat them with, with your time and attention and care. So all of that, it's a very long way around the bush, is to say, we need to really, really get good at this.

And we need to stop looking at our job, what we do during those hours, as a responsibility only. And realize that this is where we're spending the majority of our day. And these are real relationships. These aren't work relationships. These are real relationships. And people deserve more from us as leaders.

Russel Lolacher: And just cause the podcast is called Relationships At Work, I certainly won't double down on that at all. I also love the fact that you're talking about communication because as much as we're talking about presentations and some of the examples you provide, amazing. What they were also really good at was connecting the work to the vision and mission.

They were very good about showing that what you do matters. We've got a vision ahead of us. You're part of that. Too many organizations and leaders are like, yeah, our vision mission go to the website or it's on the poster when you walked in the hall, remember? Cause I can't remember. It's not off the top of my head.

It's this connection to value that I think is really missed with a lot of leaders. They can, even if they're good talkers, they're not as good with that skillset of understanding who their audience is. We're back to the presentation thing again.

And how it matters, to get buy in. And that, that's a skill that, and the thing is I'm worried here, Jen, because I'm like, can we teach this stuff or are these just...

Jen Buck: We can.

Russel Lolacher: We we can. Okay.

Jen Buck: We can. Of course we can. Of course we can. Now, it doesn't mean that I can teach someone to care. I can't teach someone to care, but I can teach them to be aware, and I can teach them to be available, and I can teach them to ask good questions, and I can teach them to make sure that after they either act or don't act, they're able to communicate the why, right?

So we can teach people to do those things. Can I teach someone who is severely introverted to suddenly like being around a lot of people? No, but I can teach them skills that will help them cope through that process. And that is what matters here because we need to be available. We need to make people feel like not only are we demanding that they're engaged, but I'm actually interested in engaged with you, right?

I'm actually connected to you. And there is something that matters happening here. And by the way, I'm going to go back to what you said, it's understanding how to tell the story of how people are connected to what's happening here and how important they are to the impact that's being made. This is all connected and that's our job as leaders is to be able to tell those stories, even in one on one conversations.

This is not necessarily about the world stage. It's about those one on one conversations so that people feel connected. They feel seen.

Russel Lolacher: So let's get back to that being seen because how we see people now is very different. They're on screens a lot more than they ever were in a cubicle or a office down the hall. So somebody who's looking to learn to be a leader, would they approach all this differently in a remote or hybrid world?

Jen Buck: Yeah. I think it's harder now. I think it's harder. People need to feel heard. And just because we're on screens, that doesn't mean we should be disconnected. And if I knew you and we were out having a beer, Russel, I would be this animated and this all of this, but for some reason when people get in front of the screen, the hands stop the gestures and the expressions and all of that stops.

This is me through and through and I need you to feel that I need you to feel all my energy, even if you're not sitting on the other side of the room with me, right? And that's the thing that I need people to remember. We're still human beings on the other side of this camera. And it doesn't mean that because we're behind a camera that we have license to be lazy.

Or boring, or disinterested, or unfeeling, or totally checked out. That doesn't give us the license to let go of what matters most, which is the people. Just because our delivery device has changed.

Russel Lolacher: I think what hybrid and remote has really done is highlighted lazy leadership because you can be forced to be in a room and watch a leader present. When they present digitally, I can look at another screen. I could be looking at my phone. Like I don't have to be engaged because you're not interesting enough as a leader to engage me because you've been lazy to that point and not had to learn to be a good leader.

It's harder, but it's harder for those that are bad at leadership or haven't gotten the proper training that they've always needed.

Jen Buck: And this camera magnifies everything. We always talk about, or we always hear about that when it comes to television. Every wrinkle, or every pound, or whatever they always say, right? Guess what? This camera right here also has a magic power, and it amplifies lazy leadership. Poor leadership is amplified.

Russel Lolacher: As a 25 year old, I don't know what you're talking about through all...

Jen Buck: No, I don't either. I don't either. But they tell me that, they tell me that, they tell me that wrinkles show up. Yeah.

Russel Lolacher: So...

Jen Buck: They tell me it's bad.

Russel Lolacher: Now leaders are going to go how can I learn so much? Like I'm having, you want me to learn digital? No, no, wait, you want me to learn soft skills and human centricity. Where do I focus my time in my efforts? Because HR teams have budgets that are getting smaller and smaller, except some organizations, which are lucky, or we're trying to do more with less.

So how do we prioritize, when we're stuck in the busy?

Jen Buck: So I'm, I'm kind of known for the my concept or a concept of people-first leadership. So my answer is always going to be around people. My answer is always going to be about taking care of your people first. And that's actually what the pandemic was for me, right? I didn't make a penny. And, but yet my my colleagues, or not my colleagues, my clients were supported and their people and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of employees were seen and valued during a time when the world was going crazy and we had these fireside chats in these moments where we could just say, how are you and we could talk about what's scary and all of that. People-first leadership is recognizing that an employee is not just an asset. They're actually a whole person and I'm bringing my whole life into this place, even though you don't know it. I bring everything I bring my aging, you know, mother and my, my aunt who just passed away and and my uncle just had a heart attack like I bring that with me. You may not know it, but I bring it. I'm a whole employee and yet when my mom was coming up in business, you know, she was supposed to leave it all at home.

When you enter the office, you leave it all at home. We talked about this when it comes to cursing, right? When you get on stage, you leave all that at home. Guess what? I'm a whole person. The fact is, I don't know that we've led that way for a long time. I don't know that we ever have. So people first to me means that when budgets are cut and when things aren't going well, and when a company is slipping and sliding and things aren't stable, you take care of people.

When we're having an economic crash, the first thing cut is always employee development. And the extras, the parties, the celebrations, the excellence awards, all of these extra things. Those are the things we cut, the things that put people first, the things that value these human beings that are coming and trusting us with their life for eight hours, nine hours a day.

So to me, that's always the answer. people first. No, there's no budget. I get it. No, we're really shaky. I get it, but you take care of your people. And it's a horrible analogy, but I'm going to say it anyway. When there's an earthquake, when there's a fire, when there's a dip in the economy, when someone in the family has died.

What do we do? We protect our people. We cling to our people. We make sure that we value and take care of and we nurture our people. Our family. It's no different. And I think that's the thing that we all have to absolutely break through. And for many of us with lots of programming, from the old dudes that used to be sitting in those castles on high, I think that this is really hard to make the shift with, but somehow when we think about family or children or things like that we think about the people that we love the most, we start to see around that corner and realize, okay, all right, you're right.

Stability and, and nurturing and, and caring for those people, it does matter most, no matter how chaotic it is. And I'm, I'm a true believer that when we take care of people and we make their working environment the best for them, they win, of course, but we're the ultimate winners. We are as the leaders or the company or whatever we are winning, right?

And we don't even realize that it's because we're doing right by human beings.

Russel Lolacher: So say we're looking at our organization, whether an HR executive, and we're looking to maybe evaluate where we should be focusing our efforts when it becomes to a training program for our leaders. How do we know looking at our organization, where we should be focusing our efforts? Maybe our emotional intelligence is fantastic in our organization.

Maybe we, it isn't. How do we know where we should be focusing our effort and resources?

Jen Buck: You know, I think that HR, really to me is the unsung hero of every organization. They're the heartbeat. They're the cape wearers. They're the ones that deserve so much more money than they make. And I'm, I'm, I'm in love with HR. All right. And I believe that if you ask most devoted HR people and most HR people are devoted, if you ask them what's going on in their organization, they can tell you exactly what's wrong.

The problem is it's not always. in alignment with the most pressing business objectives, right? The people stuff doesn't always fall on that same list. And so I believe most of our HR people know, I'll give you an example. I was just this week training an organization who I love, love, love who have, by the way, a mission, their mission.

I'm sorry. Their vision statement is to feed the world. I've never had such a world shaking client in my life. That is literally their vision. So I was working with their leadership team and I work with them every single month without fail. And as it turns out, we realized halfway through as they're doing an activity, she goes like this for me to come outside.

So I walk outside the door and she goes, we definitely need a part two. I said, you said from the beginning, we needed a part two, but we didn't do it. You're right. We need a part two, but she knew it way back in January when we were planning all of this. But she was looking at budgets and numbers and what will they think if we have two, two sessions from the same topic, but yeah, that's what they needed.

And she knew that before we even created a plan. So I think it's important for. For our senior leaders to trust those who are responsible for our human resource, because that's their job to have their finger on the pulse. It's also their job many times to be aware of how to develop employees if they don't have, for instance, a training department, most of them are running the L& D for the leaders, right?

And I think your lead, I think your HR representatives and leaders know exactly what's needed. And I don't think putting a survey out is the answer. I will say that to executive leaders. That doesn't tell you the truth, never tells you the truth. It gives you a soft sort of, you know, murky picture, but that's about as good as you're going to get. When you start to get the truth is when you have the one on one conversations, when you let HR be an active part of this, when when you can start looking at some of the detail.

And I do think that by the way, Dita, it. Detail and data. Woof.

Russel Lolacher: Nice.

Jen Buck: I dare you. Detail and data. They are going to drive L& D as we move into the next years, let's say that, I think it's going to be very personalized and very detail and data driven. And I think you're going to see AI really personalize the L& D journey for people because of the date, the detail and data.

Don't ask me to say any of that again.

Russel Lolacher: No, no, no details and data for anybody. Ah, that was quick.

Jen Buck: That's good.

Russel Lolacher: I was going to ask, what is it exciting you about the future of leadership training? Where do you feel is bringing you joy on the path that we're on?

Jen Buck: I, you know, I always say that, that my politics and my religion are people. I love people. And that drives literally everything. That drives everything I do in my personal and work life. And I love seeing people feel valued. And I love seeing younger leaders. Emerge and put this as their number one value, employee development, and it's the young leaders, by the way, it's the people who are in the millennial, or, you know, in that generation saying, Oh, no, no, we need this inclusion.

We need these conversations. We need diversity to be our number one driving value in this organization. We need more time, you know, engaging and interacting. It's the younger leaders that get me super, super excited because they are people, people, right? That's, that's, like I said, my religion, my politics are people.

And so they are too. And I love seeing that younger voice come in and rattle all the old people. You know, these old mindsets, these older, older, you know, sort of baked in beliefs. about what it should look like when you lead others. And so that is probably what excites me the most. And I'm seeing it by the way, like, a tidal wave that's just hitting all these organizations and you know, where you see it the most? In ERGs! These ERGs are led by young people and you've got all of these unique, really interesting ERGs out there that are focusing on really specific things. And they're led by people in their twenties and thirties. I love it. I love it!

Russel Lolacher: Which just reinforces the need for reverse mentorship. I hate that they call it reverse mentorship because it's not reverse, it's just mentorship, but the idea that you're older, let's be honest, white males at the top of the organization are looking to be mentored by those 20 and 30 year olds who also have a plethora of stuff to give ...

Jen Buck: I love it.

Russel Lolacher: Jen Buck, thank you so much. I'm not letting you get out of here without one last question, which is what's one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Jen Buck: Lead with empathy first, always. No matter what your brain tells you, no matter what your ego tells you, no matter how bad the situation is or how much you're shaking. Take a deep breath and lead with empathy first. If we all just led with empathy first, we would have a lot fewer heartaches. In this world, I'm gonna go that far.

Globally. Empathy first.

Russel Lolacher: That's Jen Buck. She's an award winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and certified master leadership trainer. Thanks for being here, Jen.

Jen Buck: Thank you for having me.