Human Resolve HR

Discovering Freedom and Clarity as a Leader​

Adam Weber | Co-Founder and Chief People Officer, Emplify

Former pastor Adam Weber practices what he literally preaches, both as an author and co-founder and Chief People Officer at Emplify, an employee engagement software and consulting firm based in Indianapolis. Since leaving his church and venturing into the business world, he’s pushed for authentic leadership, a catalyst for unlocking people’s true potential.

“It’s not about your product, it’s not about all these other things. As a leader, you can truly create a high performance culture when you simply get to know yourself in a way that you can actually lead from your authentic, whole person,” Adam says. 

In this episode of Human Resolve, learn how to build a more human workforce as Adam discusses the importance of self-awareness and self-reflection in your journey as a leader, meaningful feedback, and “the mirage of the desk.”

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Meet Adam

Adam Weber is Chief People Officer and co-founder of Emplify, a company that helps leaders measure, diagnose and solve their employee engagement challenges. Adam is an expert and speaker on employee engagement, culture, team performance, and leadership development. He has spoken at a number of events around the country for which he has been consistently rated as a top presenter. In 2020, Adam was named to Business Insider’s list of Rising Stars in HR.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in organizational communication from Ball State University, is a former musician, retired pastor, aspiring comedian, and currently lives in Zionsville, Indiana, with his wife, two sons and dog.

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Show Notes

Former pastor Adam Weber practices what he literally preaches, both as an author and the co-founder and Chief People Officer at Emplify, an employee engagement software and consulting firm based in Indianapolis. Since leaving his church and venturing into the business world, he’s pushed  for authentic leadership, a catalyst for unlocking people’s true potential.

“It’s not about your product, it’s not about all these other things. As a leader, you can truly create a high-performance culture when you simply get to know yourself in a way that you can actually lead from your authentic, whole person,” Adam says. 

One leader changed Adam’s entire career — a leader who didn’t care what time Adam came to work or where he worked from. Since then, Adam has sought freedom to unlock his true potential and helped others do the same. 

Leading authentically means continual self-awareness and self-reflection, which is one of the “beautiful parts” about being in leadership, according to Adam. “If you’re willing to let people tell you the truth of who you are, you’ll actually get to learn about how you show up in the world and how you show up in your team.”

Growing as a leader, or even as an employee, requires consistent constructive feedback. Adam experienced this early on with his business partner Santiago Jaramillo. While launching their first business together, they communicated openly about each other’s potential areas of improvement. Though the founders sometimes struggled to accept criticism, the dialogue perpetuated an honest feedback loop that’s helped Adam to this day.

According to Adam, the key to building a more human workforce is “acknowledging that transition from administrative HR to strategic HR.” The first three steps of the process include: 

  • Making sure your company has a clear, active purpose that’s brought to life by your employees every day,
  • Checking that each employee understands how their role ties into your company’s larger mission,
  • And ensuring your company’s values are embodied by each and every employee, from individual contributor roles up to the CEO.

Notable Quotes

Discovering freedom
sans micro-management

“One leader changed my whole career. The very first day I showed up at his company — his name is Michael — he says, ‘Hey, I don’t care when you show up, I don’t care where you work. What I do care [about] — I actually think you’re talented, and if you could set your mind to it, I’m curious what you could do for our business.’ That unleashed in me this freedom to actually unlock my true potential.”

The importance of
self-aware leaders

“I’ve had thousands of conversations with new leaders who basically burn fields in their wake only to look back at that charred field. Truly growing in leadership means gaining awareness of when that’s happening. Candidly, I don’t think any of us can get away from burning a little bit of the field during the process, but you can stop it if you’re growing your self-awareness. You can give yourself space when those moments are happening.”

Lack of ‘centeredness’
wreaks havoc on companies

“My favorite part of the book is on what I call ‘centeredness,’ and it’s tied to leading as your whole authentic self. But, at the root of it, if you think about a traditional manager, what happens is they’re the top performer on a team. They haven’t likely displayed skills that would actually show them that they’d be good at management; they just happened to be the best person and they naturally get the job. And that’s happening all across the country, and it’s wreaking havoc on companies.”

Empowering employees to take time off

“We recognized that, yes, we’ve always had this unlimited PTO policy, but it’s not unlimited if people don’t feel comfortable or encouraged to take it. It’s flexible, but we have some mandatory minimums. So we’re doing mandatory minimums and Emplify’s average. We share what we expect the average person [to take] — here’s the range and here’s the minimum, which I’m eager to see. It’s too early to know how it will go, but I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

Find out the truth
about who you are

“One of the beautiful parts about being in leadership is you get to grow so much in your own self-awareness. If you’re willing to let people tell you the truth about who you are, you’ll actually get to learn about how you show up in the world and how you show up in your team. Growing in that will really unlock your own development, but also how your team performs.”

Feedback from leadership
must be consistent

“The reality is, to actually grow, you have to get feedback. But leaders often aren’t consistent with feedback. So what makes feedback feel heavy is when it’s inconsistent. There’s nothing worse than getting feedback from a person who doesn’t normally give you feedback; it feels so heavy and it’s uncomfortable, but employees are craving it. The way to do it is to create safe containers with steadiness.”

Bridging the gap on remote psychological safety

“I think the challenge [with COVID-19] from a leadership perspective that I’ve seen is that the number one issue between managers and employees is psychological safety. That is, the manager playing that role with the puffed up chest and not creating environments where the employee feels like they can bring things up that are sincere. Physical distance has not made that better. So there’s going to have to be new intentionality on how you create safety inside of environments and how you resolve conflict.”

How to start leading authentically

“If I were to say how to get started [to lead more authentically], it is really acknowledging that transition from administrative HR to strategic HR. The bones are the first three steps: Do you have mechanisms in place to develop the self-awareness of your leaders? Does your company have a purpose that is clear and activates it — not one that’s sitting on a shelf, dusty — are you celebrating that purpose? Do you bring that purpose back to life for the employees? Does each employee — even the ones who have jobs that are pretty thankless — do they understand how their role ties back to the overall company purpose and why the company exists in the world? Then, the same with values: Are the values not just known, but are they lived? Are they activated?”

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