People-Centric approach, the roots to organizational success- Keren Eldad [Interview]
About Keren Eldad
Keren Eldad (“Coach Keren”) a business coach & speaker, is a trusted advisor to industry-leading executives and entrepreneurs who are setting records at the top of their fields. Powerhouses have sought her out to help them make significant breakthroughs in the profitable growth of their business while revitalizing their energy and defining the meaning of their entire lives. Over the last three years, Keren has developed a measurably impactful and streamlined executive coaching process to do this, while working with top organizations including J.P. Morgan, Christian Dior/LVMH, Beyond Capital, YPO– and many more.
We have the pleasure of welcoming Keren Eldad today to our interview series. I’m Sumitha Mariyam from the peopleHum team. Before we begin, just a quick intro of PeopleHum – peopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated human capital management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work. We run the peopleHum blog and video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors a year and publish around 2 interviews with well-known names globally, every month.
Welcome, Keren. We are thrilled to have you.
Thank you. I was also thinking of three decades. Oh, my God. Now, that’s too old. That’s old. One day, One day it will be for three decades. Yeah, it is a pleasure to be here. I’m glad to talk about company culture and the future of work. These are two topics that are very near and dear to my heart. So thanks for having me.
Thank you so much for coming to the interview series.
Keren, the first question I have for you, tell us a little bit about your journey that brought you to this beautiful place that you are and tell us a little bit about with enthusiasm.
Okay. With enthusiasm, I will tell you my story. I was a C-level corporate executive at a Billion Dollar company that I used to work for Richemont, which owns IWC Company A. Then Cleveland are Hells and other very big luxury brands. And, I was also the publisher of the magazine side down a corporate career. All of my life in my mid-thirties, I had a big personal crisis. I got divorced. I lost the house.
I decided to move back to the United States. I was living in Switzerland and then I really started to ask myself very big questions. Do I actually want to work like this? I didn’t particularly like it. I saw all the flaws in working in big corporate structures. I saw that I personally was not fully fulfilled. Speaking of the future of work, this is sort of the beginning of everybody starting to have a side job or a side hustle or a passion project.
And I really wanted to do that, too. But with my kind of job, that was almost impossible because you’re working like 60 or 70 hours a week. So it’s very, very hard to do.
And so I started to ask very big questions. What are my passions? Why do I want to do what I do? How can we lead better? How can we teach people to lead better? And this is the beginning of the creation of With Enthusiasm Programs, lead with enthusiasm, enterprise with enthusiasm, and what today I have started to become.
I became essentially not just the coach, but a teacher. I go and teach people how to be happy, how to be less difficult at work, how to become self-aware, and how to become powerful leaders without being forceful. And that’s the entire story. Been a great job.
So talking more about that.
Can you tell us a little bit more about lead with the Enthusiasm coaching program? And also, if we can touch upon the work you’re doing with leadership presence coaching, what elements do you press on from a perspective of leadership presence?
Well, leadership presence is the main feature in Lead with Enthusiasm. I created Lead with Enthusiasm to help people become self-aware, emotionally attuned leaders, leaders with heart people who can actually inspire people to a greater vision without forcing them to a greater vision and pathetic leaders, vulnerable leaders, vulnerable and courageous leaders, the kind of leader that Brenè Brown talks about. I can actually teach you how to become. That’s essentially what leads with enthusiasm was created to do.
The executive or leadership presence track became very, very important, or a big seller for me when people when you started to see the leaders want to become recognizable. Leaders really want to have a voice for their company.
They wanted to be the face of the company, and they really need a public persona, a public presence, better public speaking skills, better-negotiating skills of better sales presence. And that’s when I started to create tracks like influence, executive presence, public speaking, etc. And that became a whole arm of lead with enthusiasm.
The original program only had seven tracks and today Lead with Enthusiasm and its successor, enterprise the Enthusiasm have more than 50 available tracks. So no matter what you’re looking for, I got you covered.
I just like to ask you this question.
What will be the top three traits that you would say that leaders should be having a bond or someone who likes to lead should be having?
So most people would answer that question by saying resilience or perseverance that’s the top leadership trait. I believe that this is a trait of the past. This doesn’t matter anymore. Today I’m looking for three things that last far longer than then create resilience. The first is humility. or curiosity. The leader of today has to know that they don’t know what they don’t know and has to have the humility to understand that they can always be a beginner, they can always learn from others and that other experts do know better.
“The leader of today has to know that they don’t know what they don’t know and has to have the humility to understand that they can always be a beginner, they can always learn from others and that other experts do know better. “
And that is exceptional quality and truly does create resilience because it’s a quality that allows you to see yourself as a body of progress, a body in improvement rather than a fixed, I know everything. I have all the answers, kind of boss.
The second is passion, a real enthusiasm for what you do, actual excitement because again, that’s what makes you work for much longer. It’s not resilience, its excitement, that keeps us engaged and truly involved in what we do. And that’s also an enthusiasm for other people. And the third thing is a tie, I would either say integrity or empathy, and the truth is, it has to be integrity because without integrity you have nothing. I always say that you can have incredible enthusiasm and you could have incredible passion, and you can have a wonderful curiosity. But if you don’t have integrity, you’re not particularly useful to anyone. It’s worth noting.
“I always say that you can have incredible enthusiasm and you could have incredible passion, and you can have a wonderful curiosity. But if you don’t have integrity, you’re not particularly useful to anyone. It’s worth noting.”
In fact, you’re probably very dangerous, as Warren Buffett would say. But if you have integrity and you also have that curiosity that allows you to be empathetic, that allows you to understand other people a little bit more to understand that people are doing their best to assume that people are doing their best, you will become a very compelling leader, a very likable leader. And that’s important, too.
Yeah, coming to the traits that leaders should exhibit.
So how would you advise the leaders of today to improve the recognition that is living to the employees? You know, How can we find the balance to recognize just enough to keep up the good work and not underperform?
So I’m gonna give you two tactics; 1st is a mindset one in the 2nd one is a tool, something that people can actually do. The mindset tactic is to stop asking. How is this serving me? Why is this happening to me? And instead, how may I serve? Why is this happening for me? This is a proactive stance and service stance. The leader who starts to understand how may I serve and ask, How may I serve and open the door and welcome questions of, How may I serve, will also encourage others to want to serve.
This is how it works. We always think that when we tell people to serve, they will serve. But that’s not how it works When you say give me, give me. They’re gonna respond with give me, give me. But if you say How may I serve, people will always respond. How may I serve? It’s dynamic. So if that mindset is with any when you truly are coming to serve, they will want in turn to serve, you’re inspiring them to serve. So that’s the servant leadership stands, and that’s the mindset of productivity.
And that’s certainly the first thing I ask people to work towards and to work towards that, the action that people can take, Of course, get a coach because we teach you that. And two, read the books of Brenè Brown, read the books of Jim Collins, read, read because it will truly soften your heart and soften your intellect and help you enormously to absorb these principles until you become them.
The second thing that I asked people to do, and this might sound a little bit cheesy is to have awards events at the office. Now, this sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t work, but when it does work, I always find it very, very helpful for teens.
And that is when you stop recognizing people actively for their good job. People love recognition. People love validation.
They love to know that their good job has not gone unrecognized, of course, some people say, Why was it this person and not me? Okay. But usually, there’s a good reason. Usually, you are not recognizing somebody who does not deserve recognition. Usually, especially if you allow everybody in the office or peers to vote democratically.
The person who really is exemplifying an above and beyond is rewarded and that recognition creates a lot of morale. It creates, “I’m seen for my efforts. I’m recognized for my efforts”, and that’s a very, very meaningful thing to be able to do. Of course, aside from just being a nice human being, will ask, How are you? I don’t think we do that enough. How are you doing? Need any help? Can I help you with anything and those are very demonstrable skills of leadership rolling up your sleeves. How can I help you? Do you need any help?
Yeah, that’s wonderful. And I think we need to practice more of that, especially in these times of uncertainty, because everyone’s at home locked up inside and everyone’s equally frustrated.
So how would you advise the leaders of today to manage a remotely working team? I mean, nobody’s given them, any sort of training for that, and this was quite unexpected. So how would you advise them to do that?
There are a couple of things that you can do because I am still coaching teams remotely. The first is to start to check in with people more often. So I always say, in times like this, or especially when you have a global team, eliminate text or email as much as possible and do video as much as possible because we are human beings.
Human beings develop trust by seeing each other and by understanding each other’s context, there’s a huge difference between somebody who doesn’t use a lot of words. Somebody can think that they’re rude, but if you can see them, you know that they’re not rude, they are just quiet. They just used few words, always bring back emotion in context. The future of work relies heavily on artificial intelligence on AI and one of the things that will not be replaced is human emotion and context.
“The future of work relies heavily on artificial intelligence on AI and one of the things that will not be replaced is human emotion and context.”
The machines still cannot read emotion or context, so it’s very important for us to stay connected via video. Do this regularly with your team Once a week, Check in with your leaders face to face as often as you possibly can, and encourage people to eliminate text and email during this time as much as possible. The second is to use this period for projects that we didn’t have time for before.
Let’s say that you put aside fundraising because you were so busy with sales. Now, sales have stopped, use this time for fundraising. Use this time to create that project that you didn’t have time for before. Use this time to lead generate, use this time to create ideas, new ideas about how to serve your claims. Use this time to check in with clients who have been underserved when you use that time proactively, you will make the time go by and you’ll make very good use of it because this will end. It sounds like it won’t end, but it will end.
And the third thing that I always tell people to do is to train people during this time and focus on learning and development. Now I understand as many of my clients, that their budgets are being cut and that this is not the time for coaching. But I’d like to argue that this is the time. This is a very marginal cost and this brings people together enormously. It inspires them enormously. It gives everybody individually a sense of empowerment.
Every time I come in and speak for a team, they feel so much better and that will keep you connected to your company. The last thing you want is massive amounts of people leaving massive amounts of people losing their morale, massive amounts of people just not doing their job, and not being productive. This is the time to invest in them. So the third thing that any company can do is training, coaching, and enrichment programs for their people at this time.
Yeah, that’s absolutely right. I think we should focus on what we can do during this time versus what we can’t go during this time. So I think that’s very important. And as we were speaking, you were telling about technology and AI not being able to, AI is not emotionally intelligent as humans.
So how would you define the balance between artificial intelligence and the human intelligence that we require for an organization to run peacefully like, especially at this time? Or even after there’s been here back in the offices, how much is the role of technology and AI to keep everything going?
I’m not an AI expert. I’ve just read several books about this, and all I can tell you is that the cases will vary and that there are moments that are simply not replaceable, at this juncture. If you are a doctor, you can diagnose remotely, using artificial intelligence by using a lot of data input and helping people sift and sort through things. But ultimately there is nothing like the emotional context of being with a human being who might be able to read between the lines and seeing more.
A great example of this is teaching. I do have programs that are fully online, and then you can also work with me privately, there is an enormous difference between working with an online program and privately. That’s not to say that the online program is not excellent. Of course, it is. I created it. You’ll get a lot of light, but the difference is when you’re working with an actual human being, who is focused on you. It’s like all of that light gathered into a laser. And I can understand your emotion, your context.
You can understand my emotion, my context, and we are living in a supremely condensed arena, therefore, and that’s just different. And it’s very, very, very hard to replace there are wonderful books on this. If you really want to delve into the future of work, actually think one of them is called the Future of Work that just came out a couple of months ago, and we’re using this a lot.
All I can say is human beings relate to each other with emotion. Human beings relate to each other through trust, and human beings are capable of ideation, creativity, and innovation therefore far, far greater than anything that we’ve seen so far using artificial intelligence.
I think there’s an absolute need to understand the emotional needs of people.
So how do you think that you know, organizational cultures can be changed just to suit the mental and emotional needs of its employees?
By being kinder and more empathetic, the leadership has to lead. You know, Sumitha. When I started, I thought, let’s coach entire teams, let’s coach bottom up. But that really doesn’t work. The truth is, the tone is set at the top. It is very valuable to coach leadership teams towards vulnerability, authenticity, courage and to really teach them first how to think in a way that is vulnerable to see the world in a way that is not so competitive.
That is truly softer in order for them to acquire the skills that are very charismatic, filled with influence, validating of others, curious, not blinkered, not incurious, not rigid, not difficult, not unethical. Those were the kinds of stances that you encourage all the time. But again, if the leadership becomes this way, they create trust. When you create trust, people speak up. When people speak up, they become engaged, and when they are engaged, they become committed. They stay with the organization, and it has to work in that sequence.
“When you create trust, people speak up. When people speak up, they become engaged, and when they are engaged, they become committed. They stay with the organization, and it has to work in that sequence. “
You can’t start with just forcing commitment. No one’s gonna do that without trust. No one gonna speaks up without trust. No one gonna become engaged without trust and so on and so forth. So it really works that way. That is the ladder. And that’s why I always say, focus on the leadership, change their mindsets and you will change the entire organization.
“And that’s why I always say, focus on the leadership, change their mindsets and you will change the entire organization.”
Because then what will happen is the leader who, Dan Coyle wrote a great book called The Culture Coat that I recommend too. So Brené Brown, Jim Collins and Dan Coyle for the culture coat. And he has a principle that’s called “Pick Up the Trash”. He always says that real leaders who are enlightened leaders who have learned how to lead, roll up their sleeves, and don’t have a problem, they are not too ashamed to pick up the trash when you need to pick up the trash, and that’s leading by example. That’s how you change an organization.
That’s wonderful. And so I would also like to ask you,
Do you have an ideal workplace culture in mind, if you have something like that, can you elaborate on it for us? A little bit?
I can give him examples of teams that I coach or Who I think have worked with that are much more enlightened than other teams. And I have to tell, them that this is very interesting because here I think the giants can learn for mid-size or smaller companies. I know that it’s very hard to do that when you have 1000 employees versus when you have 40. But you can propagate this and learn from them.
A great example that comes to mind is a company called Task Ray, its project management organization, they are based in Denver, Colorado, they’re fantastic people. We just did a training for the last week, when the second they got the order to stay at home, they already moved into action. They divided their team into four teams. All teams received the task.
You come up with;
A) New ideas to support customers during this time and
B) New ideas for the business in general.
And then they all gathered in their teams for two hours to have master sessions to sift through the ideas and decide what they’re gonna put into action in the next two months of lockdown. Well, you know, they ended up with so many ideas, they didn’t even have time to go through them in two hours.
Most of the session spilled into three hours, and they’ve already put everything into effect. And, as a result, Task Ray is really not looking at budget cuts, are looking at rollbacks. They are growing and they are maintaining the pace. They’re serving their customers better than ever. They’re really in a strong position to survive this and more importantly, everybody is engaged. Everybody is excited. Everybody feels like they’re being heard and being part of the team. That’s how you really are a great example of company culture.
I think that’s a very valid point. I mean, being engaged and being part of the team and not just achieving targets, that’s not the goal. Being part of a team which is totally engaged, and with you, it’s very exciting.
Also, can you give me some perspectives? or What do you think the future work is going to be once we come out of this whole pandemic scene? Do you think it’s going to change?
I think it’s here. I think the future of work is here. I think we’ve learned through a pandemic that we are very capable of working from home, that many people appreciate working from home at least part-time. The flexibility is here to stay. The millennial is certainly demanding flexibility as our women, we are the majority of the vote workforce, Congratulations all over the world. So you gotta listen to us and we have to be more flexible. People can work from home.
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That work from home does not mean that you’re not part of the team. You know, I’ve coached many companies in which they’re basically Salesforce’s and salespeople run themselves as separate islands. This is not possible anymore. You must create a culture of engagement and people like it. People like to belong. People like to be part of something. So bringing them together for virtual meetings, for virtual training, for conferences, all the time is very important because we are human beings and human interaction.
Again, the pandemic is shown us human interaction is so important to us. We love other people. No matter who you are, no matter what your behavioral style is, you like other people. You need to be around other people.
So the future of work is to find this balance. To engage people who have not been engaged much more and to allow people who have not had the freedom to have more freedom because they can be relied upon. The important thing is to teach leaders that this is the future of work and that they must be flexible in their minds and open in their hearts. And when they are, they will be leaders forever.
That’s a wonderful answer. And we were talking about the millennial work force and the future of work. So obviously we have this thought of the GIG economy, so it’s not just of the small jobs anymore. It’s not just delivery boys anymore. It’s more like there are sales executives who want to work for six months on a contract and then take a break.
So as the GIG economy is growing, how do you think this is going to fit inside the organizational setup that we have right now?
I think that’s a question, that’s both corporate and governmental. The gig economy is enormous. In the United States, it’s 40% of the workforce is, according to several sources, and Forbes already filing taxes as gig economists, as solo preneurs as people who are doing enough on the side to work for taxes on it.
So it’s something that the government can no longer not pay attention to. And that means benefits and worker boundaries or subsidies have to be in place for gig economy workers. It also means the company wonderful things because it’s extraordinarily flexible. It’s a flexible way to work with top talent in a way that works for everybody.
On a personal level, you have to learn how to become an exceptional salesperson, a very strong money manager, and a good planner. I know because I do this and that is essentially how it’s gonna work, I think as long as we all have health insurance and wonderful clients, and we’re doing a great job.
This actually is very valuable for the company. I said this for a long time, my Webmasters, my designers, my assistant. They’re all gig workers. They have their own business and they do this for several other people. This is wonderful for me because I’m getting top talent at a price that works for me.
But I’m getting top talent and therefore I work with them for very, very long stretches of time. It’s the same with me. If you wanted to hire me back when I was a C level executive, very few companies can afford that level of talent at that kind of contract. It’s the same with a finance person, it’s the same with a legal person.
But today there are people who are compliance consultants who are fine, a CFO for hire, who are coaches that I mean, there’s no way you could afford me in the organization, I think for most organizations, but you can certainly afford training.
You can certainly afford to coach privately for certain individuals and group opportunities, and those allow you to work on a rolling basis. It’s a wonderful time. And it’s a wonderful time for people who are dynamic and enthusiastic enough to step up and do this.
I think there are a lot of people who are considering having a full time job and also having their gig work just to improve theirs, whatever this inside them if they think they are good at something they would like to do with trying. And, you know, having financial security from a full-time job has also to be there. I think that that is a wonderful answer.
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And you have to be able to be open to letting them do that. That’s very hard for businesses to do what you have to let them do. Because here’s the truth, it’s very hard to do this full time. I coach a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of solo preneurs. I think it’s wonderful when people just succeed. I think anybody can, but it isn’t easy and it’s okay if you want to work freelance but still have a base as a job and the jobs should be much more open to it. That is the future of the GIG Economy.
Yeah, exactly. I completely agree with you on that one, so Keren just to wrap up the interview.
I would like to ask you if you have any important soundbites that you would like to leave our viewers.
There’s only one thing that I said the end of every interview and at the end of every suicide counseling call that I do because that’s what I do, a volunteer because we’re all the same. And that is no matter who you are listening to this.
I know you’re doing a great job and you should be easy on yourself. You are doing much better than you think. And I think when we understand this as persons as human beings, no matter where we are, we’re nicer to other people. And that’s the secret to anything, including leadership. Be easy on yourself.
“I know you’re doing a great job and you should be easy on yourself. You are doing much better than you think. And I think when we understand this as persons as human beings, no matter where we are, we’re nicer to other people. And that’s the secret to anything, including leadership. Be easy on yourself.”
That’s a wonderful message. Thank you so much for that Keren. I had a wonderful experience talking to you and it was truly enriching and I loved it. I will surely keep in touch with you. Have a safe time ahead of you.
You too, take good care. Take care out there. I hope to see when all this is over.
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