Heather R. Younger is an experienced keynote speaker, two-time author, and the CEO and Founder of Employee Fanatix, a leading employee engagement, leadership development, and DEI consulting firm, where she is on a mission to help leaders understand the power they possess to ensure people feel valued at work.
Known as The Employee WhispererTM, Heather harnesses humor, warmth, and an instant relatability to engage and uplift audiences and inspire them into action.
Rooted in her belief that employees aren’t just numbers on the payroll but human beings with ideas that matter, Heather’s talks and workshops are dedicated to helping teams, leaders, and organizations shine by improving how they listen to, communicate with, and empower employees.
Heather’s personal Why emerged as she sought to find meaning from her difficult experience growing up in the 1970s. As the only child of an interfaith and interracial marriage, both Heather and her Black father were shunned and excluded by extended family because of the color of their skin. While the sting of exclusion left Heather with a lot of questions growing up, it also led her to develop a high level of resilience and a deeply inspired commitment to advocate for anyone who has ever felt devalued.
Today, she credits her capacity to navigate complex social dynamics and discuss identity in the workplace to those early experiences, and is dedicated to creating opportunities for organizational leaders, teams, and individuals to learn strategies for reframing adversity while empowering leaders to change their workplaces for the better.
During this interview Heather and I discuss the following topics:
- What it means to be a caring leader
- Different aspects of caring leadership
- How leaders can employ caring leadership in their daily activities
- What they can do to start being a caring leader
If you are interested in learning more about Heather’s resources be sure to check out the following links:
- Check out Heather’s website
- Buy The Art of Caring Leadership on Amazon
- Subscribe to Heather’s YouTube Channel
- Connect with Heather on LinkedIn
- Follow Heather on Twitter
- Follow Heather on Facebook
- Follow Heather on Instagram
There’s a SaaS generated transcript at the bottom of the show notes past this section.
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Heather younger welcome back third time three peter of a gas to me for leadership podcast so great to have you back
so excited to be back. Think like being home with like a warm cup of joe biden for the fireplace be with these got. So how does a day before hit record your first appearance on the show was episode. Twenty four- and this is one six three, it’s a it’s a hundred and thirty nine
episodes ago hundred and thirty nine weeks of content ago, actually even more than that, because I took a break for our yard and all this right, so yeah. So it’s goats
years not a real up. It’s it’s own career and and low g guest of the shack of g and love. It love it so you’re odd! Twenty four! You came back for fifty and now you’re back for one sixty three with a book ready to be well release
yesterday at the time of launch the show- and I’m so proud of you for launch of that thing. Well done to you! Thank you so much! You know it’s interesting. This process has been so different from the first book. Remember the seven who the laws of employee loyalty with a self published, and I had to kind of gather the team around and and figure out what doing it,
and you know we did our very best. We did our very best and I feel I’m just more confident, because now I had this time was a publisher and our values, our liner, be corporation into their values, are really line, relates kind of impact in the world. You making sure that the authors they were with want to have an impact in the title. The subject
they have are inhabit impact in cell, when my hope is, is that I have more global impact, because I think I’ve had some good like impact in certain pockets of the? U s and canada, but I really haven’t gotten to be really, I think, impactful another country. So my goal is that it goes little more global, am and
and at the same time, you really just.
I really wanted to get to the to the people who need this stuff in because I don’t want to be in a ad in what is called an asylum. That’s not the word for pitch know when you just talking to yourself are talking all people that are just like you know, just echo chamber, the echo chamber. Thank you gift. This is what happens when you get my age. You start to forget stuff, but
but anyway, just you know, we don’t live in equity may wanna, be wanna, be making sure the messages get to the people who actually can touch the lives of employees in a more positive way. So that’s my hope
is now a that’s been your mission since two hundred thirty nine episodes ago at least, is getting to the employers to help employees and really, you know, m inspire readers to do better for their people. It and I’d love to know what the inspiration behind
this specific book was for you to say: okay, let’s go, let’s dive in reaching out to the publisher, getting that on your. What was the inspiration motivation behind it? More so what you just talk pope, but behind doing this book-
oh you, don’t really spins off from the first, so the first euro is a seven to have laws: employee loyalty, the first chapter of the first chapter of that was giving them great support of managers, and this next book is called the art of carrying leadership. So what it does it attempts to really dig deep into that? First of
is the support of leader, and so the the the whole context of it is that they’re I’ve interviewed on my podcast. I met like a hundred and sixty at this point of my podcast leadership at heart, and I interviewed these people and I boiled up the concepts into these key. You know these key areas
and then the key behaviors, and then I decided to use about like eighty of the voices from those interviews inside the book, and yours is, of course, from the voice that shows up in there, which is kind of exciting yeah ooh yeah. In my book,
the server at the nebula was my mind still today. It’s I gay
have I mentioned that so cool so anyways. I have their voice they’re they’re. The reason why I wondered is it there’s two reason: this is an interesting premise: side of the offshoot that so I wanted included raised voices because I feel like oh my gosh. It was so much brilliance like I’m listening and dislike gosh that most people like don’t, listen, a podcast. So I need to put this in another medium that people, maybe so
one else will like another group of people, will leach read a book and then I’ll do articles, and then someone also read articles, but not the book, not the podcast too. Had I continued to socialize the message but doing different ways. I can get to more people. So that was one thing, but the other thing is, you know, there’s this thing inside of me.
I think a lot of us have is not really like a pastor. There is a little bit of that going on it’s like you’re, not good enough, so there is a limit that impostor thing going on. So for me, as my foundation of my whole personal story of adversity, it it created me this thing of, like
maybe like me by myself is, is not enough hints. I need to have more voices to make it enough, and then I keep getting almost slapped in the face.
Not really but kind of like heather know people wanna hear from you and I’m like. Well, that’s it! No! So in a bit, here’s an example: the reviewers that there were three reviewers from the publisher that they were either, but they were outside reviewers and three all three of them said it some
point. Could you please provide more of your own stories and experiences, because every time you do that, I lean in as I’m reading, and I and I and I so I didn’t have enough at me in there that first round I had a get everybody else and it was. I didn’t summarize a very well- and I didn’t have enough my voice around it
near like this. Is your book and we actually like your voice. So can you use it it it just a buddy? Could I my whole thing? You know employ fanatics, we help organizations communicate and listen more effectively by capturing the voices of their people, so it- and I think their voices are so important, so valuable to goodbye my own, and I think that’s what happens.
A lot of us right
go for sure. It’s it’s toll easier or even for me. Here’s like I haven’t done a full episode. I don’t know for how long, because I’ll bring all these guess on, but I I dare. I use my voice odd for monday, my monday leadership minute
segment, whereas now it’s five, five minutes fish, but I’m really like just sniper round straight down ranges, versed very specific topic, a topic right like brambles, I won. Let one shot one round, downrange want one target them on that particular topic. So that’s I feel, like I put my voice out. What the impostor same thing
is is super true, even for any reader, any author and speaker out there.
Actually, the absurd literally right before this one is all about overcoming impostor syndrome. So I’ll raise
get your having gave ever about one folks, I you might wanna double back after us would, but I really wanna hear some degree lessons that came out of all these interviews, that that you did that ended up in the book and what were some of the common themes the car came out of it.
Well, I mean here’s a thing, so it’s the art of carrying leadership and above the attempt here is to define, would carrying, looks like because many managers are, as I called them, leaders leaders managers for me. I use them interchangeably and I’ll. Tell you why, in a minute,
many managers think of themselves as caring,
but are they really,
and it is the employee that is the end user of that concept right they are they in user. They decide the user experience when it comes to carrying. So I wanted to be able to put down on paper what carrying looks like from a data bases and what it would make their employees feel like when they actually isn’t from the
user experience side of things. So I define it in a it’s guard. Nine behaviors, with sub behaviors in stories to back it up and a das, makes it so that it’s not this nebulous thing, that’s out there in the world, but there are some clear guard. So here’s a here’s here are a few of those I will go through. All of mine are those
a few showed up in the first book, but again, there’s drill down. So obviously this idea of creating a listening culture and listening culture is at the individual leader level in the in the listing. Culture is at the organizational level, so you listen organization, the you listen as a manager, people and manager of teens, and, and so
that is a critical one and it will show a protein every single thing I do it is my north star, so creating a list culture is critical, the other one is making them feel important.
Often, what happens is employees feel like a number like they just are there to do a job, and no one really cares for them right that no one really thinks anything big them, and so, when we do that, we do it by recognizing and appreciating them. We do it by connecting with him one on one really spending that time with them and also going our way to be
even spawning spontaneously mixer available for them when they need us- and I know you do this because he’d be talked about in some of the stories we talked about. The other thing is providing feedback of that’s part of part of the listening, and the listing side is providing feedback to and making them feel important, because it’s not just like you listening one way, but it’s bi directional
communication, it’s listening and then providing feedback, even if it hurts a tiny bit right and we talked about that new show up in that area, because we talk about the after action review and those are the kind of things that you need to do that nor to grow people and create safe spaces for people so up creating face piece to say spaces, helping them grow
really looking for the greatness and finding that seed digging deep. Those are. Some of the themes are really a cop up in a book. There’s just there’s a lot there, I’m gonna be honest, which is why
it again, one of the reviewers cut slaps me my head on this one. So I’m I already knew I was gonna. Create courses from the book had made a lotta sense for those who would and already knows going to take it do an assessment, several courses in a cessna, but what I didn’t really think about which was really brilliant his part, and so true, is it. I create
this, this environment, it’s community, that’s for carrying leaders and development and they will go there interact with other carrying leaders of in development.
They’ll have access to coaches, because it’s a self assessment so add dave. How many of us really know how truthfully how much we truly care so depending on where the numbers fall? No matter what how I, how I I hired io psychologist to actually make sure the assessment is like pretty ironclad. He did all of his research and made sure was good. So when they go in
not everybody, including me, is gonna, get a ten bright, we’re going to have areas we all need improve on, but most of us may stop. There will know about. It will stop there, but I’m gonna go further in the community and offer kind of a coach’s cohort it’ll, be there carrying leadership. Certified coaches it’ll, be there ready to to help them work through the assessment, like you would a three sixty or eighty
other says when you may need in the workplace as though they’re gonna have anybody, reads a book and enters that phase of accountability and support and take the assessment and interested community. It’s gonna have just it’s just gonna, be like wow like would completely wild by the level of support and guidance and kind of community and connectedness they’re gonna have, which makes sense right.
I’m talking about connection here- and this is what I’m not is is me I could take a cat- would be weird to stop right there. So I can slap myself, but I did do the first summer around with the second time. It’s going to it’s gonna be cover a revolution and evolution. I think for for hopefully, leaders everywhere
are are love it. I rule of the assessment part, because we don’t know what we don’t know in reader. Sorry we’re not prone to blind spots right right. In fact, I feel more and more as I get deeper and deeper into it was like wow. I don’t know sir
huck is true. I am I’m into hundred and I’d say about a hundred and thirty interviews. Now and it’s like, I don’t know, jack the more. I learn the more I realize I don’t know jack and it’s funny, because I goes right back to my very last day at arm see at the royal military college of canada
and as australian some equipment that stays. There are remember one of the senior and shows his his passwords. Stuck with me and he’s like reimer now serves a man’s yeah. Don’t knows, squat use a different word, but anyway will keep refugee. Is you don’t know squat? I kind of took that and ran with it and ever
java show up to. Are I don’t know anything heroic figure this out, but that’s even coming true now at like a hundreds near hundred sixty three episodes later and it’s like wow, I don’t know, I think so that back through the initial part, what were just discussing is. The second piece is crucial so that we do identifier points
it’s like I’m hooked on those little suspense online, like I known, are all these maggots to get my email address and guess what they all got on cause. I’m just like me know, as like five market, be I don’t care, because if it’s good, I want your service
right. If I realize, as if it’s a huge blind spot for me, I want the service to get beyond and that’s really readers, not bosses, but leaders go they like. Let let me for over. This is a blind spot for me. I am feeling oh there’s a service here, to keep me from the f
two upheaval inch. Let’s go yes, absolutely yeah, and I so I think the at where I planned to do is like kill them with support, and it is so they’re gonna have a lot of support and my goal is to really create a thriving community, and so, while, obviously, yes, I’m growing a business. Yes, I’d like to have book sales, yea great, I will make
my inbox. I just I really about right. It’s it’s the impact. You know I’ve always been at it for the employees. So for me, I get the employees by changing the hearts and minds leaders. Do I get to the front line in the midline of people who feel devalued like they don’t matter, I get to them by touching the leader, and so that’s the whole.
Oh, that’s taxi that it that is caput like if you needed to find a star for me to be the star, and that would be where I’d start and stop and everything starts and stops with leadership. And you- and I I know I’m preaching to the choir on this and and but none of us are perfect, and I was just talking to someone- and I was another prof cassidy and I said: listen I am, they were asking about a bowler
ability and in the icicle you have to be selective or vulnerable is lottie. Do that night? I was tell them, but I said listen. This is kind of I oscars like a c minuses, a leader because I’m not selected selectively vulnerable. What I mean by that is- and I don’t I’m not vulnerable to everybody- the organization, but when it comes to my team, I’m more vulnerable than I should be. So I know that
out myself, it’s a weak spot for me and I know that’s gonna put, would pop up when I go in and take the final test makes leaders did the test of it, but once we get the system- and I got ticket thanks- I right now like you communicating or is it gonna be oversharing is an issue for me huh, so it’ll it’ll be a low mark and I’ll be like an idiot. A coach, a mountain community,
I love your drive and passion- it’s it’s container is contagious is what it is, but I like that part of you know you’re after those middle level, employees and all the employees, but you’re gonna affect them like touching their leaders, and that is being a leader of leaders,
and that is really what we aspire to be right and as world leaders should aspire to be. When I get a job and I’m not back to my squadron command days. When I was commanding a squad of two hundred, I would I was touching my to my hundred ninety five people by touch
using the direct subordinate, five directs opponents right. Underneath me it and building them up and giving their leadership skills up, so they could turn around and due to their directs and they’re the directs and all the way down to the chain.
So that is yeah, that’s what it’s and how do we get the billion people like what would have been out there since I know my man geneva, but he would never bite or she would never buy it, and I am trying to give ideas. You to them in a way you could wrap it up as a gift or you could make it like up. You could recommend it is a book like doing a book club or in a study group at work with the all everybody on a team. How do we get the book in the house
hands of the jerks in the hands of the either the people know that they don’t care and they could give a care
or they think they care and, like I said, the proof is in the pudding. How do we get into those hands and where they can take it to heart and more? They will plunge into the kick into community, because they’ll be a percentage of people who read the book. Who will flirt will be like this is squishy squishy touchy touchy and a certain extent, not all the, because we got stuff like your stuff in there right that gives
some media is. I have quite a bit of meat from all the stories from other people is a lot of meat. Is one such a really to go about it. He goes so much further and probably make it like a seven hundred page book right, but the it is what it is. It’s more a business book, but I’m really just figuring that out, but there will be a certain presence. People who will just stop at the book will be done
and even say: okay you’re at the end. Now
you could either choose to stop or you could enter into the accountability system. I put in place for you, let’s just put it. What would you like to do? Okay, boom boom boom boom boom bubble bubble and everything’s laid out for them, so my hope is that allowed people will do that, but maybe not everybody will and know. I will have touched you I will touch by will touch one one leader who touched ten
employees. I will be one happy, mama sita attack like that.
Absolutely absolutely love it.
So what let’s us role there? So I read the book, which I will one day when I, when get my hands on on on a coffee and I’ll, be gone through it, and especially looking for my part, which still blows hi, fi,
targeted to end it and then okay. Now I dive in like art but scope. Us, let’s go forward, know, what’s really waiting for me to devote my carrying leadership skills while that’s it. I’m are we at the very end of the book. There’s a link to an invitation. It says, like your journey to carrying leadership, doesn’t stop it in spokane. Here you go,
oh, and once you enter into this here’s what’s lined up you enter into you, you go and you take the assessments you go to that link and that just opens up your life in a whole nother way right, because now you you go there, you take the assessment from there you’re invited into the community. You also recommended a set of courses, a I will be teaching all of the courses founded in the book, but that or care
in leadership academy will grow overtime and you’ll be a lot more coaches. That will be able to see tree, add basically teach courses there and sort of beam me to start and then as overtime. Other coaches will be doing other things, and this can be master minds and there’s gonna be a lotta stuff into the coaches, aren’t free they’re inside the community, but
they are going to be trained to be able to work with you in the assessments. And then you know you work with someone and you choose how long you work with someone, and if you decide that there’s value in working with someone, maybe you decide, you want to bring it into organization, and you want to work with a group of our coaches. You want to work with whatever there’s lots of different opportunities that there will be a full support system right,
ready and waiting for them as they decide to enter into that journey. So it it’s a journey
and that’s what that’s? What leadership is it’s a journey through? There is no, there is no vow. Stop no exit keep going day in day out. You know everything we’re gonna ramp it up and and heather style or any gather feed bucket the feedback over time. The members of the community, my goal would beater unleashed to release a and
the assessment so that, once you had opportunity to work with a coach now we get to go in and assess. Employees will do that if the community wants that middle, be a lot of different opportunities to continue to drill down of because it is in the work that I do. It is like this like it’s like a needle haystack type of thing is, though, that you yeah you hear all
voices. Then you aggregate the most important kind of themes. Then you drill down some more with employees in focus groups and culture teams. Then you get some more themes that are tactics and you go and do the action. Then you come back and you listen again and repeat the cycle over and over until you continually impacted in apposite
the way I always tell people. I know when I say it even exhaust myself when I talk about the cycle of listening, but that’s kind of what happens. So this community will be one where we will listen to those who enter the community. We will listen. If you will ask you a listener feedback, we will one of the things I’m very good at is I leverage I leverage the greatness of everybody, which is what I did in this books I’ll
like to do the same thing in a community where I I’ll just bring people in where I’m like. That’s not my strength, that’s not my strength and I’ll. Just bring other people into do the thing they do to add value to the community. So there was a battle, be. How goes I’m very excited about it? It is a work in progress
ahead. Is a work in progress.
Are you in college so describe my favorite leadership bird, which is delegation so you’re you’re, bringing people up her hit? You bring people that that offset your your weaknesses with their strengths, and that is definitely known. It’s king crucial to to ensure that you got a successful program but, most importantly, you at
you have a program that enables people to devote hill
once they’ve identified, they’re blind spots to get through them and aon own and develop those weaknesses into strengths or listen to him getting out of the f out of the f scores and into finger injury
exactly, and I actually prefer the word empowerment I mean I don’t I wouldn’t say I never use delegates delegation. I think there there’s a need for that too. I like to focus in on the book. I talk about empowering people to make their own decisions and an empowerment space. It’s a little different than saying. I need you to stand in my stead to go. Do this thing, this empowerment, video taking it to another lev?
Let’s stand in my stead to do this thing, but do it the way wave use your best judgment to do the way you with the most creativity you need in order to innovate in order to accomplish a goal in order to grow where right. So it’s a it’s a it’s a more broad view of authority sunday, giving them more authority to think outside of my shoes and and stand in their ass with all of their
gifts right, zelda and that shows up in the book to an old chapter on empowering people make their own decisions knife edge. It’s mostly, I have a basically exact same the viewpoint of it just might admire my army miss cover yeah. I know it. I know it. I know I know we are again. You know, there’s, I think, there’s value to all sides in
it’s interesting when you do when you do the book you eat.
How much do you protect the word you use versus how much you want to socialize them and be used across the board in areas like with the with the publisher, though again, no, we don’t wanna like trademark that word or treatment, afraid or trimmer that angered at an anomaly in the networks, minorities. No! No! We want this event. That is protected. Is that you know, and I’m like I did it like. I do get it on the lawyer. You know I’m a lawyer
and that’s what I’m trained at so I try to like. I try to run away from it, but it keeps creeping back in seismic oven, but if emulate any sense, it’s just that wanting people to be thinking about carrying in a different way wanting to understand what it is. It is not the soft squishy thing that doesn’t do anything for you or your organization that it actually, in fact, is super duper hard and a
loses. Some serious results right also have it up grin wind down here, but I want to ask you something so shoot me, one thing which the audience when they grab their copy, because I’m sure they’re all gonna grab your copy, that’s gonna, surprise them and then one thing which taken taken
immediate action on today after you’re done listening to this episode.
So while the one thing that can do right now with wealth, they haven’t grabbed a copy, I’d say, grab a copy and they say if you got the copy, take the assessment of hats without that. That would be like the steps right, and I think the one thing that the poly be surprised at is a couple of how I infuse my personal stories in theirs and their stories it might be,
are a little hard to take, but I think they’re gonna be surprised to hear that the level of energy and positivity passion my voice when they read the stories that kind of formed me as a person.
That’s awesome love it all right to ask questions one or two of it, while both you’ve answered before so I we’re gonna review review, notes back a hundred and thirty nine episodes ago and asic when you have a younger of what makes a great leader
wow. Well, you know what let me just put it this way. Simply in then you’ll know where to go for the details. I think a great leader is one who shows concern and kindness today to those they lead, and that is the definition of carrying leadership
are probably you probably like. Did that word for part, you probably went revered that episode to see what you accurate band right now, no, not sure I did, because now the book is definitely not do the book back then fifa
are you following active, find a hug and if all you were gonna grab copy it’s over. You know,
you know yeah. If you just search the art of carrying leadership or heather younger books or something on google, you would fight year. It can pop up anywhere, so obviously amazon m, all those things add and then, if you’re looking to follow me, I probably I am almost like a mid major social platforms. Now I’m the most busy on linked in and that’s kind of way, it’s always been. You know that of me
me and I have two websites: it’s heather younger dot com,
it’s kind of speaking podcast, personal stuff, the personal leadership stuff and then there’s employee fanatics, dot com, if a in atx, and that is the consulting training, more organizational, a relationship organization
awesome, I was gonna say: oh, this feels like it was catcher with a boyfriend, but guess what yeah? It is catching up with an old friend. Have you on here spent a fantastic awesome news? One reasons why I love doing this gig because I get to meet fantastic people like yourself and see you do so many great things out there
and follow along in your journey and help support. You like bring you back on the show to talk, but I love it yeah. Thank you know have meat is gonna means a lot and I was am excited to have and to be able to amplify your voice as many other voices that are just you have a level of brilliance, not in the perfection
in all cases, but in either. You know in the humility and in know, maybe lack of perfection, the imperfection there’s so much brilliance, and so I was happy to be able to highlight all of those things to bring us to the end more. We realize that it is a journey that were not in it alone
and just keep listening into your scotched podcast. There’s lots of the podcast reading books to continue to grow yourself.
Can we finish it off on a better note than that?
Hello again, thanks are coming out your ears. Bizarre.
Thank you dear. I appreciate it.