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How to Collaborate, Influence & Leverage EQ to Succeed

By Anthony Taylor - March 24, 2021

Kristin Harper is the CEO of Driven to Succeed, a leadership development firm focused on brand innovation and reinvention for businesses and high achieving individuals around the world. She's also the author of Heart of a Leader: 52 Emotional Intelligence Insights to Advance Your Career.

Kristin started working in Brand Management at Proctor & Gamble before being recruited by The Hershey Company. Finally, she became a Global Vice President at Cardinal Health (a Fortune 20 company) while still in her thirties, before starting her own company. 

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Here's a breakdown of our conversation:

  • Lessons learned growing in a corporate setting

"Every level of leadership requires a new version of you".

Kristin believes that every level of leadership will require something different in terms of the skills you bring to the table and the functions you're responsible for. When you first start out in a role, it's about technical expertise and tangible results. The higher up you go, it becomes more about influence, your ability to envision and steer others towards outcomes. The main challenge for her was giving up doing the work, and getting fulfillment from doing different types of work like envisioning, strategizing and developing talent.

  • Her experience trying to implement strategic initiatives

Early on in her career, Kristin learned the power of collaboration and influence when trying to implement new strategic initiatives. She had the mindset that getting feedback was the same as criticism, when in reality the feedback was a lesson in influence. She had to let go of the idea of 'her idea' and learn how to think about 'our idea'. Everyone on your team will have a valid perspective. Some people may be in tune to the culture, others will know what's been tried before, and some will be more aware of the risks. The power of collaboration is much stronger than one person's idea.

  • What employers are doing to support their people (virtually)

Kristen mentions a call she was on with a group of CMOs, where they were talking about Zoom and webinars. The consensus was that people are exhausted from Zoom, and more needs to be done to support people. One was to allow people to turn off their video after the first 10 minutes. Another one was about hosting virtual happy hours or something related that was fun in nature (and not focused on work activities). Lastly, create time freedom for your people. The reality is that our demands for attention are greater at home, so let people get their work done when they can get it done.

  • How important is the perspective of the customer?

"The voice of the customer is more important now than ever".

Because customer habits are changing as we speak, Kristin believes that the voice of the customer is more important now that ever. These days, there is increasing pressure and interests that influence consumer behaviour (think about social justice and the attitude towards e-commerce). Consumers also expect more of brands in 2021. That means if you say your believe in something or value something, you have to actually support those words with actions. 

  • How to live diversity & inclusion 

When it comes to diversity & inclusion, people have to start by answering 'why'. The reality is our demographics are shifting, and greater diversity brings about greater innovation, which eventually leads to higher revenue. Next, you have to be willing to measure your success when it comes to diversity & inclusion (what gets measured gets managed). Finally, you have to be willing to make commitments. Have the courage to fail, make course corrections and commit to progress.


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To learn more about Kristin's work & her company, Driven to Succeed: DrivenToSucceedLLC.com.

To learn more about or buy Kristin's book: The Heart of a Leader: Fifty-Two Emotional Intelligence Insights to Advance Your Career.

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