Leading With Heart

October 23, 2020 Lynne Levy

3-minute read

Claude Silver

At Workhuman® Live Online, Derek Irvine, SVP of client strategy & consulting at Workhuman, sat down with Claude Silver, chief heart officer at VaynerMedia, to discuss humanity at work. Although Claude does not come from a traditional HR background (she is a former advertising strategist and surfing instructor), she has become a thought leader in creating heart-centered, human work environments.

Below are some key takeaways from the conversation that HR and business leaders can leverage to build human-centered cultures:

Take care of your people.

Claude believes that from the minute someone sends in their resume to their last day on the job, we need to take care of our people. In fact, she doesn’t even think employees should be called employees. They are humans. When we call people humans, we value them as unique, with all of their strengths and gifts. "As humans, we have a heart, and it’s humans that operate companies," she said. Claude views her role as taking care of the whole human. 

Build emotional optimism.

According to Claude, emotional optimism is about understanding the range of human emotions in all of us, every hour of every day. Yes, we need to accept our emotions, but also look to find the silver lining – the place of possibility and positivity. 

Create a human-focused culture.

Claude and her team put everything into their humans, from teaching emotional intelligence to helping them strive to be better. She believes that in order to connect with VaynerMedia consumers, they need to be able to connect, in a human way, with their colleagues and fellow humans at work

Build a high-touch environment.

Having a high-touch culture is critical; humans need to be seen, to feel valued, and to know they matter. The only way to do this is to create a culture of safety and trust. After all, Claude’s motto is “trust first.” Connection is also critical in a high-touch culture, as it breeds communication and collaboration.

Thank, talk, and celebrate.

As part of the conversation, Derek outlined three ways to deepen connections at work:

•               Thank. Colleagues and leaders must thank each other often and authentically for the work they do. A “thank you” says to the someone, "I see you, and I value you."

•               Talk. Leaders and colleagues must continually communicate with each other. These conversations should be focused on the employee and how their work ties to the business.

•               Celebrate. Teams must celebrate together often – that includes birthdays, graduations, and other life events. We need to celebrate our shared humanity at work.

Hire for skillset and culture addition, not culture fit.

As the workplace becomes more diverse, Claude no longer hires for culture fit because it results in the same ideals and values, with minimal diversity of thought. She hires for skillset first and then for culture addition. She looks for people who have similar, but not identical, values. She’s looking for people who will support diversity of thought and drive innovation. In that way, the culture can support different “textures and fabrics” of ideas and creativity.

Claude sees herself as an empathetic vessel for the humans at VaynerMedia. Her role is to turn her humans into heroes, so they can go and create other heroes. It’s when we can feel the collective energy of our colleagues that new ideas emerge. "The collective energy,” explained Claude, “is driven by leading with our hearts."

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About the Author

Lynne Levy

Lynne Levy is a Workhuman evangelist who lives and breathes helping organizations build cultures that bring out the best in the employees. Her mantra is “do what you love, love what you do.”

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