Wendy Lee and Debra Dinnocenzo discuss the busy pace of work for leaders, particularly those remote leaders who must juggle increasing demands for authentically connecting from a distance. Wendy discusses her transformational journey from high control executive to the state of hustling – but in a healthy way. Listen to Wendy and Debra explore the challenges and solutions for remote leaders who understand the need to connect from the heart to ensure that team members are heard, feel appreciated, and can reach out to their leaders who are open, supportive, and accessible, ensuring that team member remain engaged, motivated, and on the team.

About the Guest:

Wendy Lee was a total rockstar in the corporate arena. In her 30-year career, She climbed her way from a Recruiter to Senior Vice President of Human Resources. To the outside world, it appeared she had it all. But behind closed doors, her self-worth was eroding away from the abuse of her narcissistic partner. 

The crisis came to a breaking point, that led Wendy to a life coach. She uncovered generational trauma default patterns and dedicated herself to healing her past. The impact was so profound, she eventually ditched the partner and her corporate gig!

In 2018, Wendy founded LeadHERship Revolution™ to support women on their healing path. She believes deeply that all women are worthy of leading a potent and powerful life, creating a living they love, and impacting the world in revolutionary ways! 

Today, Wendy teaches women how to Hustle Healthy; her signature approach to increasing influence, impact, and income without sacrificing precious time and well-being. She delivers this through the power of group coaching and transformational retreats. 

Wendy has discovered the magic of life-balance and enjoys her time as an international speaker, 3-time best-selling author, certified transformational life coach and retreat leader, yogi, human and animal advocate, and for real rockstar, as the lead singer of a top 40 band!

Connect with Wendy at:

Website: LeadHERshipRevolution.com

Facebook: facebook.com/LeadHERshipRevolution

Instagram: instagram.com/leadhershiprevolution

LinkedIn: Wendy Lee

YouTube: LeadHERship Revolution

Want to book a FREE coaching session or learn more about Wendy’s programs and retreats? Book here: https://leadHERshipRevolution.com/connect

Want to join the FREE LeadHERship Revolution Community?

Join Here: https://leadHERshipRevolution.com/welcome

About the Host:

Since publishing her first book on telecommuting in 1999, Debra has been a pioneer in the shift to virtual work and remote leadership. Few practitioners in the field have the depth of knowledge and hands-on experience that distinguishes Debra in the hybrid workplace and remote leadership space. As a nationally recognized expert in remote workplace and distance leadership, Debra has spoken widely on related topics, and developed and taught “Leadership in the Virtual Workplace,” an online graduate-level course.

Debra A. Dinnocenzo is president and founder of VirtualWorks!, a consulting, coaching, and training firm that specializes in virtual work issues. Debra is a dynamic keynote speaker, innovative educator, impactful coach, seasoned executive, and successful author. 

Debra is the co-author of the recently released book, REMOTE LEADERSHIP – Successfully Leading Work-from-Anywhere and Hybrid Teams, as well as several other books on remote and virtual teams. 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/debradinnocenzo/

https://dinnocenzospeaks.com/

https://virtualworkswell.com/

Schedule a call with Debra HERE

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Transcript
Debra Dinnocenzo:

Hello, everyone, and welcome to this episode of the remote leadership podcast. As many of you know, my company virtual works specializes in the human side of the remote workplace with an emphasis on working and living well in the digital age. So I'm very excited to spend time today talking with my guest Wendy Lee. Wendy rocked it out in her 30 year career in the corporate world. Her success as senior vice president in Human Resources is attributed to her compassionate mindful leadership style, and her dedication to put the human in human resources. In 2018, Wendy founded the her ship revolution, to support women on their quest to lead potent and powerful lives, create a living they love and impact the world in revolutionary ways. Wendy enjoys her life as a certified life coach, transformational retreat leader, international speaker, Best Selling Author, lifelong yogi, human and animal advocate, and real rock star as the lead singer of a 12 piece variety band. So Wendy, welcome. And thank you, you're sound very busy. And I appreciate you taking time to talk with me today.

Wendy Lee:

Thank you so much for having me today. Debra, I really appreciate I can't wait to get your stations.

Debra Dinnocenzo:

He has so much to just share with us briefly before we get into a lot of what you do just a little bit more about your journey. Have you provided some highlights? But it sounds like it's been quite the ride.

Wendy Lee:

Yeah, so I was absolutely a corporate queen. I actually started working when I was 13 years old. And so I've had every job under the sun. And I had a very high work ethic. So everything that I did, I tried to do to my very best ability. And by the way, work ethic can be a code word for perfectionist.

Debra Dinnocenzo:

Right, right, right. Like you were one. Yeah,

Wendy Lee:

which really showed up from honestly may not having a good sense of my self identity or having really high self esteem, which seems so strange, right to then end up as a Senior Vice President of Human Resources, as well as running my own business. But what I found a lot of times is that what we do in our work in our business, a lot of that is showing up from how we feel about ourselves. And that is developed in our formative years, right? As a child. So here I was plugging along and working, working, working

Debra Dinnocenzo:

and being rewarded for all your absolutely being

Wendy Lee:

rewarded for it. And by the way, that behavior worked, right? It gave me the the grit, and the know how, and I put myself through college paid for it, it took me 10 years, but I did, I was able to be out in the world and figure out you know, how to be an adult. And then I applied that to work. So I was always working while I was going to school and again that trying to do your very best, which there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. That really gets noticed, right? It gets rewarded. Yep, are gonna reward it. Hey, let's give you some more stuff to do you really know how to take care of the stuff you're doing. Now let's give you even more. And as the perfectionist and people pleaser, I was like, Sure, I'll take it on. And I did. And I eventually landed in human resources. And that career in Human Resources itself was almost 30 years. And you know, nowadays, it's a little bit different. But it used to be, you had to take every step on the rung in order to then become whatever it was, especially in the higher positions. So I started at the admin position, and then went to a lead position, went to a recruiter to an interim tour director to a vice president to a senior VP over the course of my whole career. And everything was going great. Until I Yeah, right. And you know, what, I enjoyed what I was doing, I loved helping people, and I liked solving issues. So human resources was a great fit for me. But what I found is that, you know, on the outside, it seemed like my success right? Oh my gosh, look at her she's so successful. But inside, I kept repeating some patterns in relationships that were not healthy. And I got to this breaking point. And I just decided, what is it? Why can I be so successful in my career, and kind of stinky when it comes to the relationship side. And I started on a quest of self development. And what I really discovered is that the same feelings I had around why I wasn't being per se, successful in love relationships, was the same energy I was using to be successful in the corporate world. Interesting. Yeah. But what I was doing is I was cutting myself short in both areas. Right, right. I was sacrificing,

Debra Dinnocenzo:

not doing either of them very well, really. Yeah, I was

Wendy Lee:

really sacrificing my well being my precious time. My sense of self worth, in order to be liked, accepted, felt feel like you belong, you know, all of the basic needs that we need. And I figured out where that came from, in my past, and I have been dedicated ever since. Because once that light bulb went on, I realized it's not the relationship. It's not the corporate world, it's not that thing out there. It's how I felt about myself and how I viewed the world through that lens. And once I was able to go back and kind of reconcile some of that, from my past, I changed. So I still show that happened while I was in the corporate world, and I was able to switch from being the Uber professional, getting it done, kind of the masculine energy, to really leading from my heart, connecting, collaborating. And people leaned into that. That's

Debra Dinnocenzo:

great. And one of the reasons I wanted to talk with you is that it is showing up as increasingly important in the, in the remote workplace now, because relationships and building relationships are so critical. And knowing how to do that well. And authentic leadership is showing up as vitally important for people to feel really connected, supported by their leader. And those authentic connections as well as frequent connections. And, and I hear a lot about how busy everyone is and how little time there is and how overwhelmed they are. And then they get de energized and demotivated and it's, you know, a vicious, vicious cycle that they get into. And and your organization's are losing talent. So I'm really interested in hearing more about how you integrated this into your work environment and your how you showed up at work. Because, you know, bailing out of the corporate world isn't everybody's solution, right? And corporations can't be losing talent, we're already losing enough talent. And so talk to us a little bit more about how people can get in touch with what's really creating problems for them or where they need to go to be in a good place of contentedness and peacefulness, and balance, because balance is really important to, to me as well. And something I dress in my business because we can do all the right leadership things, but we got to be centered and balanced in our personal lives. And in our workplace.

Wendy Lee:

Yeah. And I love that. And I love how you gave some examples of that. Because the truth is, I didn't leave the corporate world because I was unhappy. I found that happiness while I was in the corporate world, because I was willing to look at how I was leading my life. And how I was treating myself was I really taking care of me first, which isn't always what we're been taught, right, and what we learn. And so, you know, the biggest reason I left is because I had, when I went through that transformation, I got introduced to a life coach, and it impacted me so much. I was like, I would like to do this in an arena that I can do it on a different scale, I would have stayed in corporate forever. So the concept that I like to kind of live by is hustle healthy, right? There's nothing wrong with hustling. Now, the way that it's been kind of portrayed, is that your hustle and you utilize all of your energy all of your time. It's like the grind right? You just get in and and that's all you do. You That's

Debra Dinnocenzo:

the JUST DO IT thing. Just just do it flam away everything that's in your way. Yes,

Wendy Lee:

we're just gonna get it done. And by the way that creates so much awesomeness in the world. So we don't want to necessarily stop doing that. But I think re imagining it is an important task, meaning doing things to depletion. And, you know, just raise your hand to your symbols. If you've ever been in a point where you've just totally bottomed out. I have yet to meet a human being that has not totally gotten to a point of exhaustion sometime in their life. That's not sustainable. I say it's not sexy nor sustainable. And we need to stop glamorizing that part of it, right. But of course, we want to have impact, we want to create influence, we want to add some value to this world. And so that's the hustle piece, piece. But what if we could do it in healthier ways? Right, that's where that balance piece comes in, that you mentioned. And by the way, balance does not mean equal parts. It means that you have access to those parts at any time. Because let's face it, if we're doing a launch, or we've got a program that's about to take off, we're probably going to have to put you know, our nose to the grindstone and get things done. But where do you build in things that recharges your energy? Right? That also create some really possibilities, so that you're not always so burned out. You'll want to come home, one of

Debra Dinnocenzo:

the challenges if I could just interrupt for a minute. Yes, thinking one of the challenges for many of the leaders that I talk with and leaders in organizations is, as soon as they're done with one major thing, there's always something else. So there's multiple major things going on all the time. So that that ability and your right balance is an equal parts of anything. The metaphor I always use when I'm doing a workshop or a presentation and work life balance is that balance is sort of like being on a unicycle, and the only way to stay upright on a unicycle is to constantly be moving. There's no you can't stop on a unicycle or you fall over balance is constant motion and constant motion is good. I mean, that's, that's energy. And you know, and people derive accomplishments from energy. And, you know, many people know of a type A person, and I used to say all the time, where would the world be without the type API. And so, because, you know, we know how to get shit done, right. But you know, if you just go from one thing to another, and you're constantly going and doing, then, then you're losing sight of where's the part of you, that's the human being. Because we're not human doings. We're human beings. So I'm always interested in helping people figure out how to bring this mindset of taking care of yourself and, and the being part of humaneness into the workplace and into leadership.

Wendy Lee:

So it's really interesting, because I think that when we are given the gift of leadership, it really is a gift. Because not only do we have to be in the care of other people, it shows a spotlight on ourselves. And question are is, are you willing to lean in and take that response ability? And here's a couple of things to kind of keep in mind with that. So, again, when I had my transformation in the corporate world, right, not only did I change from this side, but I started changing how I interacted. And what I really got to find out is all this busyness that created this feeling and my nervous system. That was just a feeling I was used to growing up. And so we recreate our scenarios as adults, and particularly in the work that we do. So that staying busy. Sometimes it's easy to say, well, you know, that's the corporate environment. I really challenge you to take another look at that. Because when I made that shift, I went from working anywhere between 60 and 70 hours a week to 40 hours a week as an executive. And you know what changed? Because I started trusting myself. And knowing myself, I started trusting other people more. So I didn't have to be the micromanager, the control freak, making sure everything was being taken care of, I didn't need to worry if we made a little mistake, because that's human. And that's part of sometimes how we grow and understand and discover things. I found out that I was robbing people perfectly capable of doing their jobs by me meddling in more than I needed to,

Debra Dinnocenzo:

or doing things yourself, and then they don't develop. Yeah, and

Wendy Lee:

that thing about, I'll just do it myself, that comes from a sense of fear of, if I don't get this right, and I don't succeed, then my word, I'm gonna get in trouble, right? That's a, that's a, that's a our seven year old self, I'm gonna get in trouble. And then I won't belong, or something's going to happen, right. And the truth is, none of that is true. So if we can really look at what's underneath all of that busyness, then you can start taking I call it on her ship of your time. Because if you can advocate for yourself, for time, and be able to say, and I know this seems impossible, but I'm telling you, it's not. It takes a practice. But when you say, you know, to your boss, or to the program, or whatever, I love that we want to start this. And I'd like to remind you that we're working on this. And we've had had this situation going on, and we're about to launch this, where would you like me to fit in the priority, so that we can be fully present? And that we're not burning out so that we can actually get better results? Are you willing to have those conversations?

Debra Dinnocenzo:

Right, and burnout continues to surface as an issue. I co authored a book that was released in 2001, believe it or not, called.com ca LM the search for sanity in the wired world. And here we are 2024 and beyond. And we still haven't figured much of this out, right? Things are still a challenge. Now, of course, it's the wireless world, you know, so we're still overly connected. There's over access, there's way more inflammation, and now we have, you know, AI on top of that. So are these challenges. They're not just challenges women face, they seem more apparent for women who hit the wall or have competing demands in their lives, because it is true women still carry the greatest burden for child rearing. But But men run into these challenges and issues and need to learn to lead from the heart as well, right? Yeah,

Wendy Lee:

yeah, I think if you ask any human being man or woman, in the corporate world, in their personal life and their families, nobody wants to get at the end of their life and say, Man, I wish I would have worked harder, longer, more, I wish I would have given away more of my time. No time is the one thing we can never get back. And it's the one thing that we really honor and don't know how to cultivate. So this is a notion for everybody. I think it even is even a little bit harder, sometimes, especially men that are in leadership positions, to even discuss that they feel burned out women too. But especially when you're in the leadership position, because somehow I don't know where this showed up. But we're supposed to be like, superhuman needs to take care of our basic needs.

Debra Dinnocenzo:

While we're not not encouraged to be vulnerable, to show weakness to talk about, you know, things like, like burnout or overwhelm, because we perceive and I believe in some environments, it's perceived very much as some form of weakness, or, you know, you're just not up to what we need. And, you know, people hit the wall in various ways at various times, sometimes it's a health issue. Sometimes it's, you know, facing the death of parents and their own mortality sets in. I'm thinking about a friend of mine as we're talking. His wife was a Senior Vice President of Human Resources. And in June of last year, on Father's Day, as a matter of fact, she was in raging pain and my friend took her to the emergency room, and shortly thereafter, she She was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. And by October, she was dead. And she never got to even retire, never got to plan how she was going to spend the rest of her life, right? And so I'm sure the people around her thought had to stop and think about like, what am I doing? And how am I taking care of myself. And this could happen to any of us or any of the people that we love. And so, I, you know, I do sense we're on the cusp of even though, you know, we're in a very confusing time in the workplace with people dispersed. And now we're thinking everybody has to get back together. And so let's all go back to the office, because that's what we know, that's what we're comfortable with. But in the midst of all of that, there's, there's this need for us to be more human, to connect at more of a human and heart centered level, to really convey caring for people. Because people, you know, the data shows, people leave their organizations, in many cases, because of the relationship, the poor relationship B, they have with their, their direct manager, which sometimes the manager thinks they're fine, they just don't share that they don't convey that. So there's so many dynamics and dimensions of this that are so important for women and men, in the workplace, as well as entrepreneurs, but my focus is helping people work and live well, in the remote workplace. So,

Wendy Lee:

you know, there's definitely a common need here to be seen, heard, valued, and validated in who they are. And that all of that is a strength to be able to do that. Being able to be authentic, with how we feel, is probably the greatest strength that a leader can have. Because keeping up the perception that you don't have feelings, or that feelings aren't invited in the workplace, you know, that's probably been one of the single best things that came out of this arena that we're now in, in the corporate world and in in businesses is the ability to be authentic. Right? Right, which means that your strengths are now looked at from a different vantage point, it's not weak, to say, I'm having a tough time right now. It's not weak, to ask for help, and to collaborate. All of these things really create better and more sustaining results. So connecting with that on a level, and leaders have the biggest access to this, because of their positioning, they can really create and model this through work through relationships through every part of their lives. But the question is, again, are you willing to say it starts with me, right? Because if you're saying it to your employees, but you're not modeling it, you you're really not letting them know that, hey, I'm modeling through this to give permission that this is the kind of environment we want to cultivate.

Debra Dinnocenzo:

Absolutely. When I work with leadership groups, whether it's training or coaching, I talked about this in terms of disclosure, the power of disclosure and sharing. And that leads to greater empathy, as well as lays the groundwork for and gives permission for openness, because it's much easier for people on on your team to share with you than for you to have to drag it out of them, right. So the way to start that is to model it, through disclosure through sharing. And again, that builds rapport and empathy. And all of those things are vitally important right now, particularly as people are dispersed, keeping those lines of communication open in a real and authentic way. And everybody wants to feel appreciated. And so finding time as a leader to let people know what they need to do, how they need to do it when it needs to be done. And by the way, and I really appreciate that you're doing this is a challenge for people right now. In some recent research I did. One of the things that came out as a vitally important component in all of this right now is time management like oldest time is is time management right? To manage all of this to, because if we're not being mindful about how we manage our time and what our priorities are, then these intentional reach outs and, and communicating and connecting with our team just doesn't happen, it falls through the cracks, we can move from one crisis, one other demand to another. And so it's, it's really, there's so much to unpack here relative to the human part of leadership. So it's really cool that you're investing so much energy in this.

Wendy Lee:

I mean, and it's so interesting, because it goes back to when we talk about time management, right? A big part of why leaders don't have enough time, is because they're still in the old school thinking, right? And they're still taking everything on. And they're not collaborating, and they're not asking for help. And it's still the hierarchy, I have to be up here and do this. I'm separated from from from people that are per se work for me, which is kind of a downward energy, versus a hierarchy, which is side by side, we're all in this together, truly building teams, where everybody contributes. Your you automatically gain time back. And I also like to say is yes, time management? Absolutely. And energy management. Right? That's, are you managing your energy and the energy of the group? Because if you've got a people pleaser in your group, they're going to say yes to everything. But are you compassionate enough to lean in, and even though they can do it all, not piling it on them? And seeing if there's other ways that you could do it? Like, are you doing a million reports that don't even matter? Like, let's get to the the heart of it. And see, and by the way, feedback, if you then replace the, and again, I am a full blown recovering, you know, micromanager. So I get this, don't beat yourself up about it. This is the system we learned in forever and ever. But when you start dispersing that, and giving other people opportunities to take the lead, and let them have good ideas, and let them make mistakes, and let them just be human, the experience, you're going to automatically gain back time. And you know what you could do with that time, build deeper, stronger relationships, so that you are automatically having one on one time with people. And in those natural organic conversations, you say, and by the way, I really appreciate when you do this, because it helps the team like this, and helps us gain our bottom line like this, I appreciate you, then you don't have to spend time on a formal feedback system, you're giving little drips of it all the time. It's more authentic, it's more it's received at a higher level. And I guarantee you, you're going to have better results, whatever that looks like.

Debra Dinnocenzo:

And you know, leaders now have so many creative ways to reach out to people to do those, you know, those touch bases. And I always encourage leaders to think about the ways to do that. That's that's most real time. So you know, we can do a quick zoom, people aren't having zoom lunches together as often as they could and should, as just a way to, you know, talk informally, like we used to do when we were all together in the office. And even if we have a return to Office mandate, we can't have everybody come back because they're not even in the same city. And so, you know, there's there's text, there's chats, there's other tools, like Marco Polo and tools like that, where people can do audio, and recorded audio with with visual video and to make it as as human of connection is possible, when we can't be together. So. So Wendy, share with us a little bit before we wrap up, how you work with people and how people can be in touch with you. Yeah, awesome. And

Wendy Lee:

thank you. I love this kinds of conversation. So thank you so much. Yeah, there's a few ways so I primarily work with women, although I have had many male clients as well as being in the corporate world forever and ever with all the training and development that I did there. So, but I do it mostly through group coaching programs and through transformational retreats. I find that the group programs really work well, because you can see yourself and other people, and you don't like you're out here doing it alone. That's number one. And then there's just this camaraderie. Right. So not being the Lone Ranger. I love, love, love doing transformational retreats, because it allows you to get out of your regular pattern life. And really transform some ways that you see the world some thinking patterns and get down to the core of things. Plus, it gives you just a break to get away from the busy so that you can settle off settle in enough to say, what is it that I really want in my life, in my work in my relationships in my family. So those are the two main ways that I do that. I actually have a retreat coming up in May. It's called hustle healthy retreat. It's a restorative retreat. And we'll provide some information on after the show of how people can connect. And just in general, if you want to stay connected or no, no more, I definitely invite you to my welcome package. It's a lead her ship revolution.com backslash welcome. And that will get you kind of per se into my world where you can get some content, know what's going on. And you'll also have access to a one on one call. And that's all included in the welcome page. Okay, great.

Debra Dinnocenzo:

That's wonderful. We'll put that in the show notes as well. And, and along with information about hustle healthy, I love that. And because I'm sure you'll offer additional sessions for a hustle healthy in the future. So if you miss the May one, there'll be others in the future. So. So Wendy, this has been fabulous, really interesting. You know, we could talk for a couple of hours about this stuff, but in the interest of and respecting everyone's time because everyone's busy. So we'll wrap this up, and I hope that people will reach out to you and continue to do the good work that you're doing to help people. Yeah,

Wendy Lee:

thank you very much. Thank you for what you're doing in the world as well.

Debra Dinnocenzo:

Thanks, Wendy.