Podcast Roundup: Strengths-Based Leadership, Empathy, and Positive Culture

By David Mizne

Does everyone have a podcast these days? It feels like Oprah did a live show from Michigan stadium late last year and each guest received their own podcast kit under their seat:

You get a podcast, and you get a podcast. Everyone gets a Poooodcaaaaast!

So when we were planning the Best-Self Management podcast back in 2018, we were determined to rise above the din and only produce episodes where business leaders could walk away with actionable advice on building highly engaged, high performing teams. What we quickly learned was that there are nearly infinite topics that influence those results.

In August 2020, we interviewed leading experts to cover topics like operationalizing empathy, strengths-based leadership, and building a maintaining a positive work culture. A little taste of each episode is below.

Visit our podcast page for links to listen to episodes on your favorite platform, like Apple, Google, or Spotify.

Episode 27: How Do We Operationalize Leaning In To Empathy?

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are deservedly receiving much more attention these days, with many more companies asking, “How can we create more equity and a sense of belonging for everyone?” But have you ever considered the negative—exclusion?

By shutting people out, consciously or not, we create shame and trauma. This is a powerful force that affects all aspects of society, not just work. It has become increasingly important to examine the root-causes of how current dynamics of exclusion began and the science behind the way we think, feel, and operate in the world. 


To discuss shame, trauma, and exclusion at work, we welcomed Rajkumari Neogy back to the show—an epigenetic coach and executive consultant focused on the intersection of neurobiology, culture, and empathy in today’s business world. Specializing in the tech sector, s/he has trained leaders at high-powered organizations, including Google, Facebook, and Salesforce.

Here’s a snippet from the episode:  

“Every single person on the planet is bilingual. Meaning that their left hemisphere speaks completely differently than their right hemisphere. The left hemisphere is about problem solving. It’s about giving advice and we call that, transactional language.

The right hemisphere is all about relationships and we call that relational language. There’s a lot of research that shows that when people speak different languages or say words that they don’t know they’ve never said before in different languages, different parts of their brain actually light up.

We need to start to speak significantly more relationally. That ability to speak relationally will rewire the right hemisphere and strengthen our ability to be uncomfortable in difficult conversations.”

Episode 29: Understanding Your Strengths To Build Stronger Teams

Meaningful organizational change comes from understanding that not everyone thinks and operates the way that you do. When we appreciate these differences, we see them as assets that create stronger leaders, teams, and organizations.

Darren Virassammy shares how when you understand how people in your organization learn best, you can identify how to best apply their strengths. He’s a TEDx speaker and the Co-Founder and COO of 34 Strong, where he and his team leverage a strength-based approach to human development to create massive shifts within organizations. 

Here’s a bit of his wisdom from the episode:

“Hope. It’s actually one of our most precious assets during turmoil. How can you create hope for change, for meaningful change, for meaningful impact in our work? How are we aligning it to our WHY?

It’s now a great time to be messaging towards the key mission of what it is that your work creates, the impact that you have. I’ll share ours with you. When Brandon (34 Strong cofounder) and I first got together, one of the things we were all about was creating great places to work. Why, when we started the company, did we want to do that?

It wasn’t just for what takes place today and tomorrow. What happens when you go home and you get to tell your children, you get to tell your families, ‘I work for a great place’? You feel energized coming home, as opposed to exhausted. You’re getting to show up as better versions of yourself, to your families, to your friends, and to your community.”

Episode 30: How Procore Constructed A Positive Culture That Was Built To Last

What does company culture have to do with business results? At 15Five, we see a phenomenally strong link between the two. So does our guest in this episode, who has used culture and values to build a pool of over two-thousand enthusiastic employees who are motivated to do their best work everyday. With a positive company culture, it’s easier to attract talent, maintain high levels of engagement, and create a competitive advantage.

Steve Zahm is the president and Chief Culture Officer of Procore where he’s responsible for human resources, learning, development, and facilities and real estate. Steve is focused on the creation and scaling of positive workplace culture as a sustainable competitive advantage for achieving superior business results.

Here’s a bit more from Steve on this topic:

“When I think about a positive culture, I think about a culture that’s aspirational in terms of the employees. When they come to work, they are fully invested in the mission, vision, and values. That’s language. They’re invested in that language.

And that would be the second way that I think you know that your culture is working, because you hear the language. You use the language on a daily basis. You make decisions in the context of the language of your values. You see strategies being formulated and justified based upon the mission, the ‘what’ you do, or the vision, the ‘why’ you do it.

Procore’s vision is to improve the lives of everyone in construction. The ‘what we do’ in order to get to that vision is to connect everyone in construction on a global platform. And if you start hearing those phrases, if you start seeing those in planning documents, if you start hearing people talk about the values when they compliment others that they work with, they’re embracing the language.

David Mizne 15Five

David Mizne produces the Best-Self Management podcast and is a senior manager at 15Five, people & performance software that includes continuous feedback, OKR tracking, 1-on-1s, 360° reviews, the Best-Self Academy, and Transformational Services. David’s articles have also appeared on The Next Web, HR Daily Advisor, and The Economist.

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