041 The Power Of Culture In A Worldwide Pandemic with Amber Reimer

You gotta go to grow. –Amber Reimer

My guest on The New Leader Podcast today is Amber Reimer, a seasoned leader with a background in executive coaching, change leadership, and building workplace cultures.  She is currently Director, Learning & Organizational Development at WestJet Airlines based in Calgary, Alberta. You can check out the episode in the comments section below, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Amber holds an MSc in Organizational Development from Pepperdine University and has been a part of the WestJet family for over 10 years; she walks the talk.  WestJet’s world famous “culture of care” has paved the way for employees since the late 90s, and will be the foundation of their future – especially in an industry that’s been turned upside down with COVID-19.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Why new managers need to meet people where they are; not where they think they should be
  • Why humility matters – take your job seriously, not yourself!
  • How to grow your career by finding a “truth teller”
  • How to create a promising onboarding experience that employees will love
  • The power of grittiness, and much more..

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Meeting people where they are

I assumed that everyone else had the same career desires as myself. That might have been one of my biggest learnings about how to meet people where they are at. As a leader, that’s one of the most important things we can do.

I look back on my relationship with my team and I projected all of my own stuff and ambitions on to them, and was frustrated that they didn’t want the same things as me or didn’t have the same level of efficiency.

Looking back, I lost out on activating what was possible in them, rather than just tying to drag them through what my own ambition was at the time.

I’m grateful that I learned that early and I’m grateful that some of those people are still my friends and we made it through.

As leaders, it’s important we don’t project our own story onto those folks, because what they offer a team is so valuable, and we can’t overlook it.

A Culture of Care

If you’re looking for certainty, you probably signed up for the wrong job. As a leader, you are responsible to build the aircraft as you’re flying it – to use our own metaphor – and you’re not going to have all the answers. The step by step roadmap isn’t just going to appear for you.

What you will always have is your values – what you stand for, the experiences that can inform the future. You apply that to the never-been-done-before, and that allows us to navigate unprecedented events.

Going back to our culture of care, we want to show up that way to our people, our guests, the marketplace, and staying authentic to that is going to be critical. It’s what made us successful in the past, and it’s what’s going to be critical to our culture.

Amber’s advice for New Leaders

Get to know yourself. Know what matters to you. Understand your values – what motivates you? What are your vulnerabilities?

I think people who have that sense of clarity and purpose, they show up humbly, they show up of service to people, to their organizations, to the people around them, and that’s really quite instrumental.

The balance to that as well is find a truth-teller who also knows you – a handful of them – so they can affirm your strengths, your values, how you’re showing up.

They’re that reflection you could trust when they say, “You’re not really showing up how I’d known you to be” or “I know you’ve got more in you.” They can push you from the sidelines and they will be your true partners in your success.

Links and Resources

Connect with Amber: LinkedIn

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

The Kanban Board