Lead with empathy. Natalie Standridge, CEO and founder of Casa de Corazón and Casa Franchising, shares how sticking to your values helps you lead, hire, and fire well. Natalie details the importance of emotional vulnerability in the workplace, her biggest wins as a leader and how EOS helped her face 2020 as a key worker.
When Natalie had her first child, she was working full-time and needed to find good childcare that aligned with her values. She wanted to raise her daughter bilingually and, naturally, wanted her to receive wholesome, nutritious, and sustainable care.
However, that ideal childcare facility simply did not exist in her area. So Natalie decided to use her entrepreneurial spirit to fill the market gap and started the first Casa de Corazón in 2002.
Leaders Create Followers
Natalie recalls that the first person she recognized as a leader was her high school boss. That leader was poised, driven, and had a firm sense of self.
[8:09] “… leadership is acting in a way where people want to follow you. I think [that] is the most important part of leadership.”
Natalie recommends that leaders:
- Lead by example
- Prioritize the concerns and desires of customers
- Communicate with empathy
- Are always willing to step in and help with any task
- Prioritize communication and listening
Natalie has recognized that often when leaders fail, it is because their ego and desire for control get in the way.
The Fruits of Strong Leadership
Natalie points to the impact her graduates and their parents make in their communities as evidence of her leadership style, and takes great pride in their success. She has had former students become liaisons for solely Spanish-speaking students at their elementary schools. She has witnessed parents banding together to push for Spanish-language afterschool programs.
Natalie stresses that implementing multiculturalism and diversity in the workplace benefits leaders, employees, and customers alike. These values help leaders be more aware of others and open to perspectives different from their own.
Stick To Core Values Amidst Challenges
Natalie and her team have faced unprecedented challenges during the pandemic. Casa de Corazón was designated as an essential business during lockdown, so keeping it open required constant vigilance from its employees and leadership.
During this time, Natalie says she leaned on her business’s core values more than ever. She says this guidance remains true in less stressful times as well. For example, when hiring leaders for their non-corporate centers, Natalie prioritizes an alignment of values between the applicant and the business.
Implementing EOS helped her center her decisions around her business values. When leaders have a clear idea of their business’s values and goals — coupled with a framework that enables them to communicate both clearly — organization, focus, and results follow.
Natalie’s advice for young leaders is to show up to work and be authentically themselves everyday. Stick to what you believe and communicate your vision.
[34:34] “No matter what you are doing, manifest what you truly believe into your organization. … Business is so much less about providing products and services and so much more about creating meaning for other humans.”