Purposeful Leadership with Victoria Pelletier

Purposeful Leadership with Victoria Pelletier

The Chris Hood Digital Show - Episode 25 with Victoria Pelletier
The Chris Hood Digital Show
Purposeful Leadership with Victoria Pelletier

A guiding star lies in the heart of every successful organization: the purpose. Purpose-driven leaders embody this mission, infusing it into every aspect of their management style. They align strategies, cultivate cultures, and motivate teams to achieve collective goals. Unlike traditional leaders, who often prioritize profit over people, these leaders understand that a meaningful purpose transcends monetary gains.

A survey cited by Harvard Business Review disclosed that 97% of young business professionals are seeking a career imbued with purpose. However, only 34% reported deep interest in their current work​.

On this episode, we are joined by Victoria Pelletier, Transformational Leader, Speaker, and Author, to discuss how to drive organizational success and customer loyalty through purpose-driven leadership.

Values: The Compass for Decision-Making

A leader’s values act as the compass by which decisions are made, and directions are chosen. Whether navigating through a merger or responding to a market downturn, adhering to your values ensures that your actions resonate with the core ethos of the organization. Values are non-negotiable; they’re the unwavering standards that guide behavior and form the cultural bedrock of any enterprise.

Nurturing a Balanced Culture for Growth

For a company to achieve sustainable growth, a balanced culture is imperative. Leaders should take a proactive role in cultivating an environment that promotes ambition and ethical behavior. Change isn’t just about scaling operations or increasing revenue; it’s also about expanding the capacity for positive impact.

Purpose-driven leaders understand this balance. They empower employees, drive innovation, and uphold values, all while steering the organization toward its defining mission. They recognize that their role is not merely to lead but to serve as custodians of the organizational culture.

“For me, there’s some things that I will not trade off for, and I believe culture is the outcome of not just the fancy mission statements we put on the wall, but it’s the policies, the procedures, the language action and behaviors of everyone, but particularly the leaders who stand at the front of that.” – Victoria Pelletier.

Five Key Elements of Leading with Purpose

Visionary Thinking

Leading with purpose requires a leader to think beyond today’s quarterly report or the immediate hurdles. Visionary thinking involves crafting a compelling future that inspires and drives the organization toward a meaningful impact. When leaders can articulate a vision that marries the organization’s goals with its core values, they can mobilize teams to act with intention and focus.

Emotional Intelligence

The role of emotional intelligence in purpose-driven leadership cannot be overstated. Understanding your own emotions and those of your team members helps foster an environment where people feel valued and heard. When employees believe that their leaders care about them as individuals, they are more likely to invest emotionally in their work and the organization’s overarching purpose.

Authenticity and Integrity

Purpose-driven leadership calls for authenticity and integrity, which means aligning actions and decisions with the organization’s values and mission. It’s about more than just doing things right but doing the right things. Authentic leaders serve as living embodiments of what the organization stands for, inspiring trust and confidence among their team members.

Open Communication

Transparent and honest communication forms the backbone of purpose-driven leadership. Leaders who excel in this regard create channels for dialogue where ideas, feedback, and even criticisms can be discussed openly. This culture of open communication encourages employees to contribute actively to the purpose and goals of the organization.

Empowerment and Development

A purpose-driven leader focuses not just on what can be achieved but also on who is doing the achieving. Investing in the professional and personal development of team members is essential. Empowerment goes beyond simply delegating tasks; it involves providing the tools, resources, and support team members need to grow and succeed. When employees feel empowered, they are more likely to be engaged in their work and committed to the organization’s purpose.

Fostering Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is the bedrock upon which all other elements of purpose-driven leadership can be built. When team members feel safe to express themselves, voice concerns, and take calculated risks without fear of retribution, it paves the way for innovation, collaboration, and total engagement. Leaders can foster this level of safety by encouraging open dialogue, recognizing and rewarding constructive behavior, and modeling vulnerability.

A leader prioritizing psychological safety clarifies that it’s acceptable to be human, err, and learn from those errors. This environment enhances individual well-being and contributes to a collective sense of purpose and value alignment within the organization.

A Tapestry of Leadership Excellence

These six elements—visionary thinking, emotional intelligence, authenticity and integrity, open communication, empowerment and development, and psychological safety—create a tapestry of leadership excellence. Each strand complements the others, creating a resilient and dynamic framework that enables not just the growth of the organization but also the fulfillment of its most profound purpose.

Steering the Ship: Aligning Actions with Ambitions

In the voyage of corporate success, leaders stand at the helm, responsible for steering the ship toward its destination. Leadership style profoundly influences the crew, the journey, and, ultimately, the final port of call. While obsessed leaders might find their ships running aground, purpose-driven leaders navigate with a moral and strategic compass that aligns actions with ambitions.

So, as you embark on your leadership journey, ask yourself: Will you be driven by purpose or blinded by obsession? The choice will profoundly impact your organization’s course, shaping its culture, growth, and lasting legacy.

Episode Summary

In this episode, host Chris Hood is joined by Victoria Pelletier, a transformational leader, speaker, and author, to discuss purpose-driven leadership and its impact on organizational success and customer loyalty. They emphasize the importance of aligning work with purpose and values, especially in the current changing landscape of work. They also discuss the challenges of toxic leadership and the need for leaders to create a culture of psychological safety and empowerment. Pelletier shares her insights on talent development and the importance of continuous learning and growth for both leaders and employees. She also highlights the significance of building a strong network and surrounding oneself with both supportive and challenging individuals.

Visit and Learn more at Victoria’s Website: https://victoria-pelletier.com/

Chris Hood (00:01):
Hey everyone. Thanks for listening. A guiding star lies in the heart of every successful organization. It’s the purpose. Purpose-driven leaders embody this mission, infusing it into every aspect of their management style. They align strategies, cultivate cultures, and motivate teams to achieve collective goals. Unlike traditional leaders who often prioritize profits over people, these leaders understand that a meaningful purpose transcends monetary gains. A survey cited by Harvard Business Review disclosed that 97% of young business professionals are seeking a career imbued with purpose. However, only 34% reported deep interest in their current work. On this episode, we are joined by Victoria Pelletier, transformational leader, speaker and author, to discuss how to drive organizational success and customer loyalty through purpose driven leadership. Grab a copy of my new book, customer Transformation, A seven Stage Strategy for Customer Alignment and Business Value. This is your essential guide to customer success in the digital age. It’s available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or my website. And to support the show, visit chris hood.com/show. Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform. Follow us on social media or you can email me directly [email protected]. I’m Chris Hood and let’s get connected.

Voice Over (01:37):
Connecting access. Granted, it’s the Chris Hood Digital show where global business and technology leaders meet to discuss strategy, innovation, and digital acceleration. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Your digital evolution starts Now. Here’s your host, Chris Hood.

Chris Hood (02:08):
Welcome to the show. Victoria, would you mind introducing yourself?

Victoria Pelletier (02:13):
Yeah, happy to. I’m really happy to be here today. My name is Victoria Pelletier. I describe myself as a multipotentialite, meaning I have a multitude of different passions and interests. My quote day job is as a C-suite executive in the B two B professional services space. I’m also a board director and author, professional, public speaker and regular media guest. And then I’m a wife, mother, fitness fanatic, foodie and wine lover.

Chris Hood (02:37):
So let’s dive into leadership because I think that’s an area that you speak often about. And where I want to start is we talk about how to maintain a high level of passion, intensity, purpose. When you’re leading an organization, what kind of advice can you give somebody in order to understand where that intensity starts, ends and needs to be maintained?

Victoria Pelletier (03:05):
So that’s a broad question and Chris, there’s no magic bullet here at all. But what I would say to kickstart this is making sure that not only the work that we do every day, but we are inspiring in those that are working for us is really connected to purpose and an alignment of values and one’s desire to have impact. And I mean that covid and this pandemic exacerbated the way that employees in particular think about that. And I hate the news headlines of quiet quitting and great resignation, all those, but the reality is the way we think about work has changed dramatically. And so we want to do work that we feel is purposeful and aligns to our values, aligns to the kind of impact we want to have at work and the community at the world at large. And our role, particularly from a leadership perspective is to make sure that every employee understands even if there are entry level employees, how they can impact the broader purpose and bring connectedness to what they do every day.

Chris Hood (04:11):
Now, what’s interesting in there is first I agree, I think that is a critical part of any organization, but in this age, as you said, the foundation of what work means is evolving. And what we find is especially when we see a lot of unemployment, we see mass layoffs that people will go to a company and they will work for that organization when those values or the purpose do not align. And so it’s even more challenging for leaders to be able to establish that culture within the organization when full well, there’s several people there that just simply don’t agree,

Victoria Pelletier (04:54):
Right? It makes me think of, I just finished listening to the audio book of Elon Musk’s biography, and that for me is a great example of what you’re talking about, people who have made choices to work in the organizations in which he leads and runs, knowing full well the type of leader he is. And this is where I think there’s a paradox, however, when we talk about purpose and the ability to compartmentalize what we do every day. And so people could say, I fundamentally believe in green energy and this is why I want to work at Tesla for example, even though they might not like the leadership or make a decision to stay at X formerly Twitter, whatever it is. And so you need to, I think that’s the paradox that we recognize that needs to exist. And then down to from a performance standpoint in terms of how we manage our employees who aren’t aligned around the values of the organization or the leaders, is to get the best performance out of them is to figure out what makes it work for them.

And is that because they’ve recognized I’m here for a period of time to learn and contribute deeply to something I’m passionate about and that’s the product, service, technology, or is it to get this on my resume for a period of time because it’s going to help me as a launching pad to the next level? And I think that’s how I’ve approached things in the past when I’ve worked for toxic leaders or organizations where I’m questioning, I’m like, I am here for this reason, for this timeframe, and it makes it that much more palatable to make it to that goal line.

Chris Hood (06:28):
The toxic leadership is a challenge though. I mean, we’ve all worked for somebody who we simply just did not get along with. I’ll use kind words, but it has impact on the overall morale of an organization, but that also starts to wear on us. I mean, I’ve been in the same situation. I go into work every day and you start off, I love my job, I’m waking up every day, I’m going into work, morale is high, this is what I want to do. And then it just starts chipping away and chipping away. And at some point in time you’re like, I believe in the mission, I believe in the purpose, but I just can’t do it anymore.

Victoria Pelletier (07:07):
I agree, and I’ve been there myself and I have the 80 20 rule for me in terms of my work. 80% of the time I need to get up and be excited about going into work every day and 80% or more hopefully of the people I’m working with I enjoy working with. I feel challenged by the work that I’m doing. I believe there’s always going to be the 20% of administrative stuff we don’t enjoy. There’s always going to be some jerk in the office you don’t enjoy. But again, 80 20 and I sign a lot of my social media posts with no excuses, which I can tell you my children really love when I bring that into the home front. And that’s because I think when you’re in this situation, you have a choice and that is change and control what you can control. And so if you’re in that situation, like if it’s a really horrible situation in which you need to go to HR and log a formal complaint and see what can be done around that leader, great. If it’s you’re not excited by the work that you’re doing, find a different role that does et cetera, but at some point if it’s not changing, you need to stop bitching about it and make a decision around how you’re going to move forward for yourself.

Chris Hood (08:12):
Let’s turn that no excuse around now you’re a leader and you have lost a few people from your team and you have to go out and rehire. How critical is it for you to hire somebody who aligns with the purpose of the organization?

Victoria Pelletier (08:28):
Yeah, that’s a tough one, Chris, because there’s been a war on talent now, thankfully. Well, thankfully or not, it’s not great for us the current market conditions and looming recession, but what it means from an employer and leader perspective is we’re seeing less turnover. People are staying and there’s also more candidates in the market because many companies have laid off. So the pendulum swung so far one way it started to come back and settled into a place where I would hope that as leaders we’re going to make some choices to do what I usually refer to as just doing the right thing. And so it’s a challenge because there’s much more of a movement now to looking at skills more discreetly versus broader job families and titles. And with those skills assessing, do you have that talent within? Can you build the talent? Do you have to buy the talent?

Can you automate some of the skills, all of those. So I actually see the role of HR as now being the strategic business partner too, those that own the p and l in the business. For me, there’s some things that I will not trade off for, and I believe culture is the outcome of not just the fancy mission statements we put on the wall, but it’s the policies, the procedures, the language action and behaviors of everyone, but particularly the leaders who stand at the front of that. And so for me, I’m not going to flex on someone who comes in and is going to destroy the goodwill that we’ve built and a sense of belonging and inclusion and what should ultimately drive good culture. So I will look for great talent, but I will trade off maybe on the skill level for some because I believe they have propensity to learn and they’re a good fit with the others on the organization and bring in some diversity and different thought to maybe help us innovate and do better.

Chris Hood (10:18):
You’re touching on some really good stuff. I think when we definitely from an innovation perspective and trying to evolve that business again focused on the culture, there are really a couple of main areas that we think about. One is the employees themselves and how do we empower those employees to participate in the innovation process, to participate in the evolution of the culture itself as well as really thinking about people as people. We talk about human-centered design. How do you bring that perspective to leaders to really recognize that people are people and we have to empower our employees as part of the process.

Victoria Pelletier (11:02):
A lot of the time I think it’s found it’s been education that this human-centered, whole human way of leading isn’t just a nice thing to do or the right thing to do. The reality is it actually drives the business results we’re looking to achieve. And so the reconciling that for many people, and I’ll tell you Chris, I became an executive in my early twenties and I didn’t think I should show up in that human-centered way in part because I was the youngest person on the executive team and I was the only woman on the team. So I was like, I’m not going to show this emotion and vulnerability. And I got some horrible nicknames as a result, and I think I had great respect and potentially fear from people on the team, but they wouldn’t have followed me into the proverbial fire. And so I learned the hard way that I had to be that kind of human-centered leader that recognized we show up as our whole selves every day. We can’t just shelf what’s our lived experience and the stuff that’s happening at home. And so my advice to leaders is to recognize that this drives the outcome we’re looking for in terms of business results. Plus makes it a great place to be every day. There’s not a trade-off. And that for those who are uncomfortable with it, I would encourage them to lean into the discomfort until it feels more natural to build the kind of results that we all want to work in ourselves.

Chris Hood (12:27):
Absolutely agree. What’s interesting though is when I think about some of my previous experiences, I think we can all relate to a time where an executive c e o comes out, does an all hands, makes an inspirational and passionate plea to our humanities. And yet behind the scenes in the boardroom, those emotional connections that you’re talking about are often forgotten about what is the business, what are our goals, what are our KPIs? What are the things we have to accomplish? And very rarely do we see around the boardroom and definitely at the senior level executive physician, that emotional connection come out. Why is it so limited to only when we’re talking to the masses, the employees and not when we’re doing our day-to-day operational practices?

Victoria Pelletier (13:17):
I’m going to be kind of a jerk in saying this, but because someone else writes the CEO’s speech for him to deliver. But I think there’s an awareness of what we should be doing, but it’s hard work in practice. And some of my earliest mistakes also was I was like all business all the time. So a type I got to get stuff done that takes time to build relationships and rapport and all the things we need to do to build, whether it’s relationship based selling or whether it’s with our teams. And so I think it’s again, head versus heart and creating the time and capacity. I have a saying where there’s conviction, there is capacity. I think there’s a shallow conviction for some to create the capacity to do what they need to do when they get out of the town halls.

Chris Hood (14:12):
But there has to be some mantra that is within the organization, we’ll call it the no excuses mantra. If we are partnering and we are in an organization and you are forgetting that mantra, it’s my responsibility to remind you of it. Even if it’s casual, even if it’s one-on-one, it’s point blank in the middle of a meeting. There should be some way that whatever that mantra is throughout the organization that it permeates so that in every single meeting somebody is just casually reminding yes. And I’ll give you a great example of this. I often about how the customer is your number one priority. And I talk to organizations where they go around the room and they decide on whatever the new product or service or marketing campaign’s going to be, and they don’t have that one person who’s saying, yeah, but what do you think our customer would say? What if our customer was sitting in the room with us right now? What do you think they would think about us? Those subtle moments of remembrance of what that purpose is are often never shared.

Victoria Pelletier (15:23):
And I think that’s manifest as a result of fear and insecurity and those to speak up to those in power. I am incredibly direct. I’m originally from Canada and I remember the first time I moved to the US and to New York, them telling me I was the least Canadian of the bunch, and that’s because I wasn’t self-deprecating and apologizing all the time, but really it was much more because of just much more direct all cards on the table. There is a hierarchy for a reason and at some point someone more senior than me can make a decision and I’m going to need to get on board with it, but I’m going to bring that conversation to the forefront. But I find so many are afraid to do that. That’s item one. Item two is people behave in the way in which they are incented. And so a pure focus on driving sales, revenue, profitability, and I’ve worked a lot in publicly traded companies quarter to quarter to quarter means we’re making these trade-offs constantly. And not that I don’t believe sometimes we need to do that, but because they’re getting incented to do that, it’s driving horrible behavior and they forget about all the other values they espouse and have written in their employee handbook around the kind of culture we want to work in being obsessed with our customers. To your point, Chris, over, what would they say? What do they want and what do they expect from us?

Chris Hood (16:41):
Psychological safety came to mind as you’re talking about it. Where we do have those fears, this is insights into any culture at any business is if you have those fears and you can’t express yourself in a way that is going to, even if it’s the mission and the purpose and the mantra that we’re talking about, anybody should be able to express that without fear of repercussion. It’s still surprising how many companies just don’t have that space for businesses to function properly.

Victoria Pelletier (17:16):
I agree. I agree. And I wish more did in having sort of the, I’m going to say bold, but I actually don’t think it’s really bold to be thinking and operating in that way and encouraging our employees to challenge us and leaders. And I think I’ve been through 18 mergers and acquisitions for the companies I’ve worked for and I think as a result of that, so many times I can say I don’t know what I don’t know and I’m going to have to rely upon my team and those who have institutional knowledge to educate me and together we’re going to make some decisions. And that’s worked for me, but so many don’t do that. And again, I don’t think that’s bold in encouraging that from our employees, but so many are uncomfortable with it. And you did say one thing though. Some of that is cultural and so I hope more and more now that with the remote first or much more global workers because of the pandemic, that we’re going to be able to influence that. I’ve spent a lot of time in cultures like India who culturally generally there is an extreme deference to hierarchy. And so I often have people who would tell me all the time what I want to hear. And I’m like, no, no, no, no, no. I need you to tell me what’s going to work and challenge me.

Chris Hood (18:26):
I remember going into a company in India once and I asked, what is the problem? We established what the problem was. I said, same thing. Stop telling me what you think I want to hear. Just tell me the truth. And then it got to the point where, well, we need a manager to approve this. And I said, well, go grab the manager, bring them into the office. Let’s sit down and have the conversation. Oh no, we can’t do that. That’s not how we do things here. And I said, I know that’s what we’re trying to solve. Just because we don’t do things that way doesn’t mean it’s the right way to do it. That evolution though you touched on it, is also we don’t know what we don’t know. We have to be able to learn and grow ourselves individually. I think the part of being a good leader is to learn as we progress organizationally, we should empower our employees to learn and progress. What are some of the tips that you can provide in terms of how leaders should approach that to help either themselves grow or their organization grow?

Victoria Pelletier (19:26):
I think there’s a number of factors when we look at talent development within the organization and personal development. And I’m a huge believer that we are the c e O of we brand you of your own career and not letting others hopefully guide you there. So that’s one. We are in control, but as leaders, I go back to this notion around skills. So there’s a number of things that I see in terms of what do we need for today and how, where are we growing into the future? So there are the discreet functional skills of the roles people are in, whether it’s a certain technology, they’re in a corporate function of finance or hr, whatever are those skills. But the shelf life is rapidly reducing because of technology. And so what gets left behind is very different. So the need to problem solve and innovate in different ways because we have technology to support us, but also that innovation, problem solving and engagement with our customers and our colleagues has changed.

And I don’t like to call them soft skills, but the human skills are really important. So I think for leaders, it’s assessing what do we have today and how is that connected to where we’re going in the future and assessing the skills and the propensity for people to learn new skills, including those human skills that are going to be needed. So that’s a big component of that. But also the conversation over to our earlier piece around what do people want to be doing, whether it’s purpose, the joy that they get from their job every day there’s a dialogue that needs to happen as well around the individual’s desire. And it might be to leapfrog over from one functional area to another and how can I help you get there? Or maybe they are to the earlier point, they’re in a role or a company for a period of time to gain requisite experience in a new industry or whatnot. How can I help you as a leader get you to that next level? But by having that conversation, it produces trust with the employee and hopefully has them performing at their best for the period of time you have them before they evolve to that new role or hopefully not a new company, but potentially.

Chris Hood (21:35):
I know this is cliche, but if you were to go back in time 20 years from today, what are some of those lessons that you’ve learned over the last 20 years that you would be telling your younger self? Because I understand you’ve got a interesting story that I think becomes relevant in what we’re talking about.

Victoria Pelletier (21:52):
The leadership lessons for me are things in my late forties now that I wish that early 20 something year old executive would’ve known. Now, funny enough, would I have listened to me because I think of my children at 23 and 19 often don’t listen to me. And so I would say that it’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to show emotion and be that human centered leader. I wore this mask. So my nickname that I found out in my mid to late twenties was the Iron Maiden. And that’s because of strong performance management abilities, reorganization, turning around businesses, making tough decisions. But I never actually showed the fact that I’m like, oh, marshmallow inside. And they were really, really difficult for me. So I wish I could have told that 20 something year old that I wish I could have. There’s other things not about leadership so much, but around my own brand and how do I engage and build the brand and the network around me.

That’s been incredibly important for me in being found as I’ve progressed through my career and I didn’t learn until a little bit later. Also, this notion of building the network and the people around you when you don’t need it. So that’re there for you when you do. And so I am sure I burned some bridges. I know I burned some bridges at some point, so now it’ll be rare to do that unless you really, really cross me because I want us to stay connected because the world’s smaller and smaller and those were things I didn’t appreciate 20 years ago.

Chris Hood (23:32):
The networking piece I think is interesting so that we can wrap things up. I am curious though, we talk often about building and finding people that will support us in our network and oftentimes we will be surrounded by people within the organization, the businesses we work for, who again may not align with our core values or may not align with the purpose that we are there for. And yet I do feel at times even those individuals are a critical piece of our network. Now we talk about burning the bridges and trying not to disrupt people because we never know if it might come back at some point in time to haunt us or help us. But I think again, in this network and definitely in today’s society and cultural and the challenges that we are faced with, having people who actively support us is one thing. Having people who actively challenges us I think is something else. And both I think are just as important.

Victoria Pelletier (24:33):
I agree completely with you. I often tell people that a big part of being successful and overcoming the challenges we have every day is being also incredibly self-aware and self-reflective. And sometimes that’s hard. And so having the people, to your point, Chris, who can challenge you and say, I dunno, perception’s a reality and this is how you’re showing up over here, so let’s have that conversation. I think that’s very important. Again, we were talking, we don’t want people who tell us everything we want to hear. We need people who are going to poke and prod, but they do it from a place of care and compassion to see us progress and become better.

Chris Hood (25:06):
Yeah, I love that. How can people get in touch with you?

Victoria Pelletier (25:09):
So I have a website, which is victoria peltier.com, world content. The podcast speeches are all there, but for people who want to link out and connect on social platforms, whether it’s LinkedIn or Insta or whatever, they can do that from there as well.

Chris Hood (25:24):
I’ll be sure to have all those links in our podcast post Victoria. I appreciate it. Very interesting conversation.

Victoria Pelletier (25:31):
Thanks for having me.

Chris Hood (25:33):
And of course, thanks to all of you who are listening. If you like what you heard, please subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform and leave a review. Your feedback helps us improve and grow. And if you have any questions, comments, or ideas for the show, you can connect with us throughout social media and online at Chris Hood Show. And please share this episode with your friends, family, colleagues, or anyone else looking to grow their business and start their own digital evolution. Until next week, take care and stay connected.
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