April 6,  2021


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This week, we’re sharing Part Two of our episode with the host of Leading ForwardChristie Berger, in which we touch on leadership growth and management from both the company and employee perspectives.

Christie has worked with numerous Fortune 500 organizations and across multiple industry segments. Additionally, Christie’s Fusion program is a year-long cohort for female leaders to grow and expand through a blend of group coaching, private speakers and community networking.





Christie Berger  20:01

So you see that chasm, again, is even in the difference of what our opening conversation was around the difference between those good companies and maybe others.

Chris Nichols  20:12

And it’s interesting that you said that because even on the people level we’re working through that I had, was doing some sales coaching with one of our team members last week. And, he told me, he said, “Chris, I’m a, I’m an in person guy, like I need to be, I need to be talking to people, I need to be taking them to lunch, I need to be doing, you know, face to face things.” And I said, “Hey, like me, too. I prefer that I want to be in person, I want to see how they’re responding to me and what their body language is like and, and how they’re engaging. But right now, that’s still not. That’s the that, (like you said), is looking backwards. Right? So what are you going to do today, to change to meet people where they are right now? Maybe we do get back to a situation where you are going to face to face situations in the future. But right now, this is what we’re living with? And you have a choice? Are, am I going to adjust? Or am I not?” So the other – the other thing was about leadership dispersement, which, honestly, I was a subtle plug for you. I was listening to your podcast. And I heard that term. And that, you know, I’ve heard it before. But for some reason today, when I was listening, it just kind of stuck with me. And I was wondering what your thoughts were on the idea of an HQ, not having the CEO, the CFO, the COO, everybody in the same in the same building with each other all the time together, what value there is in being together versus maybe being dispersed? Even if it’s an if it’s a US based company and their operations are here, is there value to everybody not being in the same building?

Christie Berger  21:54

Yeah, you know, I will say you’re seeing more – you’re hearing more around that. I was, there’s a company that I’m talking with right now. And we’re looking at some leadership development work and, and they’re not going to have a headquarters, they’re just not going to have there, it’s just people are going to be where they are, they may have these, you know, different centers where there may be more connectivity. And so I think we’re going to see that. And I think that there’s value in that. But I would also preface this to say I think we’re going to see more of that. I think the thing that where we get the pendulum to kind of re- maybe go back towards center is that we’re never I don’t think ever going to be back to where we were there’s going to be less travel, there’s going to be less of a need to have the in person nine to five kind of situation. Yet, just to your point, some things are lost in that. You know, so we have to say, what’s the -where are we going to fall? How do we thread the needle on all the benefits of being dispersed? Whether it be the executive team or the whole organization with knowing how we be more intentional about coming together? How do we create the systems, whether it be utilizing the appropriate technology for our organization that creates this, this informal exchange, because what we can lose, we lose the informal spontaneous creation aspect, right? And so one of the things that you know, some of the leaders, I’m talking to it, that they’re getting so fatigued and burnout, because every conversation, every decision requires a meeting on their calendar right now. And that’s tiring, right? That’s exhausting. And, and then they say, “Christy, I don’t even know I’m having to work at night, because I’m just getting the basics done during the day. I’m meeting after meeting and, and some of these things would have just been taken care of in 30 seconds, you know, exchange in the, in the hallway or something like that.” So, you know, there’s that aspect that we’re going to have to get our arms around – organizations and leaders are going to have to get their arms around, that’s not sustainable, nor efficient. But the other from a cultural standpoint, you know, we got to talk about the cultural creative aspect of things that you know maybe we figure out, and companies have to get on a regular cadence when it’s safe to do so from a travel component, to come together at a regular frequency and a regular cadence. And maybe they make – they use their dollars around bringing people together in a certain, like I said, cadence that is that works. They have to find –  every organization is gonna be different. They have to find their sweet spot on that, instead of all the kind of fixed costs that were associated with a headquarters so to speak. So I think, you know, we’re going to it i think it’s remains to be seen where we end up. I think we’ll see some companies that really do swing that pendulum all the way over and, and then I will, it’ll be curious. I’ll be curious to see in you know, the year 2-3-5-6 down the road. What’s the ramifications of that when it comes to the culture aspect or the engagement aspects? So, you know, I do think we have to look forward, I don’t think we’re ever going to go back, which is okay, which is good. But to see where that is, in the future will be, it’ll be interesting to see.

Chris Nichols  25:17

It excites me like, I, I appreciate the fact that organizations are talking about how to do things differently, because I think so many of us get hung up on… We don’t, we don’t mean to necessarily, but I think it’s not uncommon for us to try to find the easy button as often as possible, right? Because it, we are faced with so many decisions every day. And it’s impossible to be to be able to answer them all, all the time. And so I think it’s great that organizations are thinking about new ways to do things. And I think there’s going to be organizations that find, you know, working from home works for us, or  maybe it doesn’t, or maybe it’s a hybrid model. And, and I think that there are certain industries that are affected more than others. And like I know, in, in our particular industry, what we have found is like, if you’re doing talent acquisition or sales, like, it doesn’t matter where you are. It’s still a people, people facing business and how you get on people’s calendars and how you interact with those people. You just might need more technology now. Right. So to pivot, using all the 2020 terms here to pivot, you have been a major proponent of women in the workplace, you’re obviously female yourself, you’ve created a really cool program called the Fusion program, I believe, right? Yeah. Would you mind talking about the Fusion program, what it is, and about how you’re helping to build women into leadership positions and ready them for the next step in their careers?

Christie Berger  26:55

Yes, thank you for the opportunity to share that because I am very passionate about women in leadership. You know when we look at it, and let me caveat and say, especially in light of the pandemic, and everything else, this is a big area, because we’ve lost a lot of women, a lot of the gains that were made for women in leadership positions in the workforce were lost. So we’ve really – a company’s got to really continue to hone in on that and say, how do we how do we need to adjust to prevent that from happening even more, or to get people and women back in those positions, they just need to be very mindful of that. My passion around women in leadership is strong. And I’ll tell you when I really thought of the Fusion program – you know, this year 2021 is the fifth cohort really kind of the sixth because I did a pilot cohort, the first go around and, and at that point in time, you know, we really, you know, when I looked around here in the Nashville community, there really wasn’t a lot, you know, for specifically around supporting women leaders. And so I said, Okay, I’ll build it. And it’s kind of like Field of Dreams, and I’m aging myself right now. And we’ll see, you know, how it plays out and if they come and if it’s of value. And so I was able to do that and created this really, this really special program that is created this really special community of women. So you can imagine that it’s a very, it’s a small cohort-based model based on group coaching foundation, right. And the way in which we do that is that this it’s a mix of group coaching with a cohort of just 12 women that are nominated, and each woman’s nominated by their organization and sponsored by their organization. And I require it to only be one woman per organization because I want to create a safe space to really go in and, and peel back the challenges that are unique for women leaders. So we do that and also bring in other successful women in our community, you know, as part as special guests and speakers and create this opportunity to build community and network right. And the whole thing is this Fusion is to ignite performance and connection through opportunities right for women because we know the power of relationships and networks and things like that. So it’s that combination around it. So we have about over 60 women at this point have gone through this program. And we have this you know, wonderful community. And it’s almost like I can, I’ve heard this a number of times, it’s like I found my tribe, right? I found other women that are juggling the things that they’re juggling, some have children, some are caring for aging parents, and they’re at this place of going I want more professionally. And so what does that mean for me? And for some of these women, they’re the they’re the only ones in the room in their or in their organizations. They’re the only woman at the table so to speak within their respective areas. And so you know, with that comes unique opportunity and with that comes unique challenge. So this is a program and really a space and community that provides a neutral forum for us to discuss those things. And, you know, for women, you know, they there, there are so many wonderful gifts, I think, you know, I want to be very mindful when I say this as far as stereotyping, and I’m not – I want to be very clear on this. It’s not just unique to women. That said, you know, women are wired in a way to be great leaders, right. Some of the leadership skills and qualities today that are pertinent for great leaders today are empathy, relational building, being vulnerable, being able to really understand the social dynamics that are at play and be collaborative in their decision making process, all those wonderful things that I think are more communal, and that are more wired in women just from, you know, nature/nurture around all that we can have that debate all day long, but it is something I think women are set up to be great leaders. So it – at the same time, though, when we think about what defines great leadership, traditionally, you know, some of those very qualities could or actually may be detrimental from the traditional definition of leadership. So you have to figure that out. We also talk about the importance of advocacy and sponsorship and, and how do we, you know, raise our executive presence once we are in those, those roles or within our organization in a way to be both confident and vulnerable and decisive, and just be great leaders. And ultimately, there’s also an awareness that occurs around that the structural needs that need to change in the system in the organization. And these women, a part of the Fusion program, or just in general, and also this isn’t just geared towards women, this is for anyone is to understand the structural and the policy and the procedure at a macro level within their organizations that really need to shift, right, to support more inclusivity in general. But my role and my passion and some of the work with Fusion is around women, and really doing what we can here in this community to get women to be more confident. These are confident, successful, accomplished women in the program, right? At the same time, you know, the more confidence that you can build for women or for others, you can show up stronger where you are, this isn’t about building a community for other opportunities outside their organizations. It’s about giving them this, this platform of understanding that will allow them to show up stronger where they are because they know there are other opportunities. Right? A lot of women haven’t – a lot of folks, women, and sometimes men are just especially depending on unique circumstances is we all know the importance of building relationships, building a strong network internally and externally. And yet at this bet for a lot of women is that because they have so many things going on their head down in the work, right, and then the work will get noticed. And it will, it will I will be rewarded for that. Right, to some degree. But the importance of the relationships, and the networking really helped them. See that there, there’s more opportunities out there. And when you know that you have opportunity, you can use your voice in a much more confident and powerful way where you are. And when you do that you actually become a stronger leader.

Chris Nichols  33:36

Absolutely. You mentioned something that I was thinking about earlier. But the fact that we are now remote, I believe actually helps high performers more than like the great relationship builders as far as like on the leadership track. That’s this is very opinion based. But I do believe that if we’re in a more remote environment, more virtual environment, people are going to get noticed more for their achievements than maybe who they’re hanging out with and going to lunch with. Right. And so I think and I’m seeing that already, even in our organization, the difference in what things look like today versus where they maybe would have looked like 18 to 24 months ago. And I think it’s going to be unique; I think the next decade is going to be very interesting to see you know how the workplace changes and… What message do you have for women – because you mentioned a very important thing, I think, which is confidence. And men in the workplace are evidently flooded with it because there’s a there’s a statistic that says that men only need to meet roughly 40% of the qualifications to go ahead and apply for that job. Whereas women need to – need to see that they meet every skill and qualification, right. And I, I’ve experienced that, like personally with women in my life and so like to see them say, “Well, you know, I can’t go take that job, I don’t meet all the qualifications”  and I’m like, “Who cares about the qualifications? Yes, you do.” Right? So what, what message do you have for women who are looking to grow in their careers? Like how can they be more confident? How do they get past that maybe mental block of like taking the next step? And, you know, stepping up against their male peers to say, “I’m – I deserve to be here, too.”

Christie Berger  35:35

Yeah, I think that there’s a lot. But I will start with the – not that women do not they need to not underestimate themselves for one. Two, they need to not underestimate the importance of fit, right? When we’re looking at talent, we’re looking at hiring when you know, a hiring manager or organization, if you’re moving into looking at an external opportunity is at this point in time, depending on the level you are, of course, is that fit is most important. If you can highlight the fact that you’ve been a great leader, and you can just you can capture the qualifications, or the skills and your experience, and you can show whatever is those intangible aspects of things that are so critical. And that’s what companies and managers and hiring managers – things they’re looking for. And realize that you already have all those things, more than likely. The other kind of just check the box pieces, you know, is that that that’s kind of formulaic. And so if you look at it, and you – so when you can get in the door is what you need to do. One is have the confidence, understand you have everything you need, the critical component around that is then being able to show up and verbalize it. And be confident when you get that opportunity. Because what you’re talking about is just at least opened the door, right, at least just realize don’t count yourself out at face value. Right. And so I think there’s some of those things are realizing you have to believe in yourself first. And even if you have to be the duck, right, where the underneath is, is churning. But you have to just show up strong and take that step and realize you have to believe in yourself first, if others are gonna do it, and you are there others for others to believe in you. And so I think, you know, realizing that has to be an internal process, right, that’s, that’s kind of self talk. That’s an internal dialogue. But on a much more a larger kind of macro level is for women to understand – and for others understand that the what’s most important for new positions or leadership positions, is showing that you’re a good leader, showing you understand what leadership means. You’re going to learn the technical aspects are the unique qualities of an organization for the most part, but if you can showcase that, and if you can show up strong and speak clearly and have that presence and understand the role and the organization. But first and foremost understands what’s important to you and be aligned to that. And I think just take that step and realize you already have it, but you have to believe in yourself first. And so that confidence piece in it kind of comes into play. And also, you know, you’ve probably heard we’ve all heard the imposter syndrome piece, right? I think that is an overlay to that. And so I think first you have to just get in tune that of calling it what it is, and then reshifting and reframing. So in those moments, I’m going to kind of go off on this on a side note of this, Chris, is that because I think it’s so important, because we all find ourselves and this is not gender specific. But we find ourselves in that moment of not feeling good enough, or I’m going to be exposed or I can’t go for that position because I don’t meet 100% of the requirements. And then you’re giving all the reasons why you can’t. And so I think it’s really important to get in tune with where is that coming from and ask yourself what is actually true? And what is real and kind of reframing that. And so I think we can get outside your head a little bit, reframe it. And then and you can really say what have I done well, what do I have to offer? What is my past success? Look, you know, what is that write it down, I don’t care talk to other people, you’ll start to realize that kind of that negative self-talk or kind of that imposter syndrome, the data you have doesn’t support it 9 times out of 10. Right. All ultimately what that is fear. That is just fear of failure, fear of being exposed in some way. And so I think there’s just – there’s a lot of other things that we could go on for a long time about around building confidence, and really understanding what’s underneath that.

Chris Nichols  39:44

My favorite quote, and I end every podcast with it is: “Success is on the other side of fear.” And so I think there’s a lot to what you just said, and I think that you have your book as well, that duck analogy. It took me a minute. I was like, “Oh, I know what you mean. I think that’s your book cover.” Whenever you get ready to write your book, Christie…



Christie Berger  40:04

Oh, in all my free time, my friend. Yes.

Chris Nichols  40:08

So, we mentioned your podcast earlier. I know you launched it earlier this year, maybe end of 2020. But I think there’s 14 episodes out now. It’s March 4, as we’re recording this, so I’m sure there’ll be plenty more by the time this airs. But can you share for our listeners, what to expect from Leading Forward? And what they’re going to get from checking out your podcast, Christie?

Christie Berger  40:32

Yeah, thank you for the opportunity. Chris, you know, this was a kind of a passion project that’s come out of this, this unique time that we’re in as well. And the way it really originated was, you know, I was still having all these really personal intimate conversations with leaders that were going through the challenging times, and, and really getting to see what was behind the curtain. And, you know, sometimes I think when you look at more senior executives, as senior leaders, there’s this, this exterior to that’s like, you know, bulletproof, almost right, to some degree. And I think, you know, I’m so blessed with the work that I get to do that I get to see the whole person and in all the wisdom and experiences in the in the, in the insecurities, you know, as well as what we just referenced. And so this was something that was said, you know, how do I bring that because there’s such value in people’s stories. And, this was another way to bring people stories into that, because I think we learn from story, and then we learn from others experiences because we can start through story and through hearing, I think that’s why podcasts and things are so, you know, so popular is because we start to see ourselves in the story. And I think once you can see yourself in the story, you get something out of it right? And go, Oh, I don’t want to do that. Or, hey, I want to do that, you know, I want to learn even get some nuggets. So, you know, in in the podcast, you know I’m interviewing real leaders, real executives, and that are faced with these challenges. And, and it’s industry agnostic, just like the work I do, because leadership is across the board. And the podcast is really the culmination of bringing people stories into that to others and other leaders. So hopefully, they’ll learn through story.

Chris Nichols  42:17

I’m a big believer in storytelling as well, I kind of have to be as a marketer. But you know, there’s nothing more valuable than a story. It’s how you remember things right? You can tie everything together with a story. And that’s actually how we met – I remember you telling a story I was involved with a cohort myself in that group and that’s how we met and I remembered some of the stories that you’ve told and I’ve shared those stories myself as a part of conversations before. So take a listen to her podcast if you’re listening today. It was great having you Christie. I’m probably going to end up breaking this thing into two parts because I got to one point and I was like we probably need to be wrapping up, but I have so much more I want to talk about! So I know you’re all over the place but how can listeners follow you or get in touch? Where can they find you?

Christie Berger  43:11

Oh, well the easiest way is christieberger.com. And then if you’re interested in listening to Leading Forward, you can find Leading Forward with Christie Berger on any of Spotify and you know any Apple, any of the places that you download your podcasts.

Chris Nichols  43:29

Thank you, Christie. I’m that’s a wrap on another episode of the Talent Tide Podcast. Please be sure to like, subscribe and rate wherever you listen or watch the podcast from Apple to Spotify to YouTube. And now, go win the day and remember: success is on the other side of fear.