Podcast (EB&Flow)

Gaining the Right Point of View at the Top: Leadership Transitions

June 10, 2022

Transitioning into a leadership role, especially one in the C-Suite, can come with a host of new challenges and questions for the person advancing. Along with the traditional needs of growing the organization and meeting expectations, leaders now must also ensure they are ready to respond to cultural and political events, while also caring just as much about the well-being of their people as they do the organization. How can leaders lay the foundation to succeed in this new era of leadership?

Vanessa Ruda, Senior Partner at RHR International, joins the EB & Flow podcast to talk about her experience as an executive coach helping with leadership transitions. She explains why leaders must be comfortable with ambiguity, how they can build a complementary team around them, and why having and sharing an authentic point of view on what’s happening in the world is a necessity.

“In this world, particularly with employee turnover, retention issues, all the things that everybody's dealing with across multiple industries, there is real, measurable value to authenticity. Whereas again, in the past you could argue ‘it's amorphous, you can't really measure it, and, you know, maybe it matters, maybe it doesn't.’

There is measurable value, and measurable cost to not being authentic. You think about cancel culture, and it surfaces that you said one thing, but you really said something else in private, and there's a real cost to that. And so the first thing I try and do is really socialize people to the idea that this is not a nice-to-have, this is a have-to-have.”

– Vanessa Ruda, Senior Partner, RHR International

Contact us if you have any questions about the topic of this episode or to inquire about any business challenges you are experiencing.

Clinton LarsonHOST

Clinton Laron
Media Relations Manager 
Eide Bailly


Vanessa Ruda
Senior Partner
RHR International

Show Notes and Resources

The Transcript

Clinton Larson Hello and welcome to EB and Flow. I'm your host, Clinton Larson. And today we are continuing our discussion on leadership, specifically about leadership transition. And joining me as our guest today is Vanessa Ruda, senior partner at RHR International. Thanks for joining us today, Vanessa.

Vanessa Ruda Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Clinton Larson Can you give us a little background on how you specifically help leaders in this area?

Vanessa Ruda Yeah, so multiple ways. So our our international work consulting firm, we really focus on the development of executives and executive teams throughout various inflection points in their career. So leadership transition is something that we deal with every day and we really try and look at it in a holistic way from understanding the current landscape of an organization, what a transition is going to, where it sits within that context, right? So what the issues are for the outgoing leader, what an incoming leader might be stepping into, and then the future landscape, right? So someone's coming into a role. What's the desire for where they bring that organization in the future? So we hope to get really grounded in current context and landscape, future context and landscape and then understanding the individual leader, right, who's, who's coming into a particular role. So we do quite a bit of assessment work to understand who they are, what their approach is, what makes them tick, what strengths they can lean into, where their blind spots are, etc.. And then we, you know, we look at transition with the notion that people don't exist in a vacuum, you know, so supporting somebody as a leader in their own right, of course, is quite helpful in terms of where they need to grow, where they need to develop, where they need to pivot. But we also recognize that their transition takes place within the context of a team that they're walking into and a larger organization and an industry, etc.. And so we look at it through all of those lenses.

Clinton Larson Great. And that context is really important. And I wanted to start today with a story which I think relates to what you're just talking about. I was once talking to a CEO and I asked him about what their first day on the job was like. And they told me that, you know, they showed up that first day. They filled out their corner office. They sat down on the computer, and then they just sat and waited for someone to come in and say, sorry, there's been a huge mistake. You're not actually the new CEO. Can you just please pack up your stuff, you know, and leave the office? And what's funny about that is, you know, like a lot of these big leadership role transitions, you know, everyone knew this was coming, like, you know. Right? It wasn't unexpected. It wasn't a surprise. There was a transition team. There was a lot of runway for this particular transition. And what that what that revealed to me was that, you know, even when we are being groomed for a leadership role, even when we can see it coming, there's these transitions still can bring about a lot of feelings of being overwhelmed, are being intimidated of imposter syndrome, that kind of thing. So I guess I wanted to start there is this is this something you find is common with a lot of people transitioning into these big leadership roles?

Vanessa Ruda I think it's very common. And what I often see and what I often say to people is, you know, you can do all the preparation in the world, but you can't really know what it's like to sit in that seat and have the weight of that responsibility on you until you're there. And it doesn't mean that you shouldn't prepare and you shouldn't have, you know, whatever kind of mentoring and apprenticeship and all of the things that we recommend people do at that moment when you walk into that office, whether it's figuratively or literally and you realize the weight of everything that's on you, it's a sobering moment. And I do think it's one that, you know, I'm for those who are parents, almost like parenthood, yet you can read a million books, you can talk to people. But until you bring that baby home from the hospital. Right, and it's you and you, this little person, and you're like, wow, what do I do? You know, we can't really know how you're going to feel or how you're going to react or what's going to come naturally and what's not going to come naturally. So that initial angst, if you will, and consternation and wondering, can I really do this is incredibly common at the highest levels of organizations with people who you would think are just incredibly sophisticated, seasoned leaders who've done this job in that job. But you'd be amazed at how kind of insecure they can feel in those early days.

Clinton Larson That's a good perspective, I imagine. You know, we think it's different for a lot of people, but I imagine a lot of ways we're all the same when it comes to those kinds of roles. So in terms of is so as you mentioned, you know, you help in all different parts of a transition for leadership roles. So in terms of the transition to a new leadership role, how do you help people prepare for that? What are some things that are sort of fundamental to transitioning to a new role that that you're going to take?

Vanessa Ruda So one of the things. I often try and help people wrap their head around is what are. What are the things that are not written on paper that you're going to have to know and you're going to have to do and you're going to have to try and find some comfort within this role, right? Most people come into these roles. They've got a reasonable sense of the business or the industry or the operating model or, you know, how do we make those kinds of things? And they know that they're going to have to be a strategic thinker. They know they're going to have to create a vision or double down on a current vision. Right. Those are those are kind of known things. When you come into this role, I try to orient people around what are the unknown things? There's a couple of consistent things. And then, of course, there's those things that are going to be unique to an individual and unique to an organization. But consistently what I try and orient people toward is one, they're really going to need to expand their comfort with ambiguity. Many people find success in their careers because they're able to gather facts and gather data and analyze them quite well and make decisions. And when you're sitting in those top roles, there's much more ambiguity than one would think and the pressure to make decisions without complete information. So I really try and get people to recognize they're going to be living in a world with a much greater degree of ambiguity, and they've got to try and wrap their heads around that. The other thing I try and prepare them for is it really is true. It's lonely at the top. The circle of people to whom they can confide is going to shrink because there's going to be information that they're privy to that others are not, that they're simply unable to share. So really thinking about who can they talk to and making sure that they're building kind of a network of confidants, of people who are in safe positions. For them to talk to is going to be really helpful. Third thing I talk about sounds cliche, but how are they going to manage their energy? And that's different for different people. You know, what feels like balance to me might feel out of whack to you and vice versa. But recognizing that the way in which they pace themselves and think about how they're going to take care of themselves and manage energy is going to be really important. I also try and orient people to the idea that the stakeholders to whom they are accountable, that sphere is going to grow exponentially. So in a prior role, you know, you're kind of responsible for the people you work for and the people who work for you and your clients in a larger role. Right. You're now the face of your organization. You may have responsibility to a board if you're in a publicly traded company. Right. You've got responsibility to your shareholders. The group of stakeholders to whom you have to pay attention grows. And so thinking about that matters. And then I would say the I won't say the final thing, but the last thing I'll share at the moment is and this is really shifted in the past couple of years, the role of leaders today is very different from the role of leaders, you know, even a decade ago. And what I mean by that is it used to be I'm going to oversimplify, but it used to be if you were leading an organization, your job essentially was to make money and do it in a legal and ethical way. And gravy on top is if you happen to treat people well in the process. Sure. You know, and that's a vast oversimplification, but that's all boiled down. And the reality is now. Yes, of course you have to do that. But now you've got to be leading in a space of thinking about, you know, ESG issues and sociopolitical issues and, you know, issues around race and gender and sexuality and all of these things that historically corporate leaders could say that that's not my job. I don't have to have a position on that one way or another. And the reality of today is silence really isn't an option because people will make meaning out of silence whether you want them to or not. So leaders today don't really have a choice but to have a point of view, whatever that point of view may be. And I'm not being prescriptive around what that point of view should be, but people will assume a point of view no matter what, whether you stay silent or whether you say something. And so the leaders of today are faced with a whole world of pressures and things that really were not part of the job description even a couple of years ago.

Clinton Larson That's that echoes a lot of what some of people have said on the podcast when we were talking about leadership in that, you know, things have shifted to now this to the employee your employees well-being is paramount now it's just it's part of what you need to be able to have a pulse on as a leader in that building a culture that people want to be part of is just it's so critical to business these days. You know, going back to some of those fundamentals that you talked about, you know, in terms of preparing for a new role, how has that shifted in terms of when you're coaching executives, you know, with the shift, you know, with how like you said, we've been talking about things that we never talked about in the workplace before. You know, the pandemic obviously created all sorts of change management issues that, you know, had to be dealt with right away. You know, what have you had to shift or what have you what stayed the same for you when you've been coaching executives during this time?

Vanessa Ruda That's a great question. I have always, you know, kind of built my coaching philosophy around, you know, kind of meeting my clients where they're at. Right. And helping them to shape their thinking and process and kind of land on where they want to be. And I would say that's still largely true. But what has shifted is I think I am more prescriptive now than I had been in the past, not in terms of saying this is what your point of view should be, or this is what your platform should be, because I don't believe that's my role, right? People have different points of view, different ideas, different platforms. I'm one person, you know, we've got billions of people in this world and everybody has their point of view. So not in terms of saying this is what you should stand for, but prescriptive and saying you need to stand for something. Whereas I think years ago, pre-pandemic, pre, you know, some of the heightened awareness around all of these political and societal issues, I would have I would have only gone there had my client offered it up, if you will. Whereas now I'm much more prescriptive in saying you've got to be thinking about these things and you've got to figure out what you have a point of view on, what you don't have a point of view on, where you want to put a stake in the ground. So I can tell you as an example, I was talking to a client of mine, someone I've worked with for a long time, and this was shortly after the death of George Floyd. And we were talking, and he said, you know, I don't want to say the wrong thing. I don't want to upset anybody. I'm just not going to say anything. And I was very prescriptive with him and saying that is not an option for you. Right. What you say, right, is I can help you think through what you want to say, but you don't have the option of not saying anything because here's the consequences of that. Whereas I think years ago I may have left that alone. The world we're in today forces me as a coach and my colleagues as coaches to be much more prescriptive in that way and pointing out to our clients there are unintended consequences of, you know, choices that you might make. And it and we'd be remiss if we were to not bring those consequences up to the surface.

Clinton Larson That brings up another topic to me about authenticity and making sure that, you know, we're being transparent and in our and what we do and why we're doing it. And, you know, these are things that, you know of us at a place and in leadership, obviously. And but I feel like, as you just discussing, there's been more at stake now in terms of making sure that whatever response you give, whatever however you respond to an incident or something going on, it has to be authentic. It has to be real. How do you help people make sure that they're coming from a place of authenticity when they're making these decisions? Because I imagine there's some who probably would be like, what's the safest route? You know, what's the PR guy say? Like, so how do you make sure that in this new era of sort of being engaging with people and being open about some of these things, how do you make sure that people are coming at it with authenticity?

Vanessa Ruda Yeah, it's a great question. And I wish I could say that I can make sure I think I'm this. I hope you know, I hope I'm encouraging that but I'll start with being just very transparent on that. Right. That in in this world, particularly with, you know, employee turnover, retention issues, all the things that that everybody's dealing with across multiple industries, authentic, there is real, measurable value to authenticity. Whereas again, in the past you could argue it's amorphous, you can't really measure it. And, you know, maybe it matters. Maybe it doesn't. It there is there's measurable value and measurable cost to not being authentic. You know, you think about cancel culture and, you know, it surfaces that you said one thing, but you really said something else in private and there's a real cost to that. And so the first thing I try and do is, is really socialize people to the idea that this is not a nice to have, right? This is a have to have. And so given that, you know, I will encourage people to think about what has your position or lack of a position been on certain things? I'm not even talking, you know, the big existential things that we're dealing with in this country right now. But, you know, even things around, you know, that the culture you build in your organization or whatever it is, what has been your historic perspective and if you're going to shift from that, hopefully for good reason, that's great. But you've got to be honest and transparent about the journey that you've been meaning, right? Just because you may have believed something ten years ago or led your organization in a particular way or created a culture in a particular way, doesn't mean you can never shift, right? It doesn't mean that a shift makes you inauthentic. Human beings hopefully grow and develop and evolve. I mean, it would be a horrible world if we didn't. Right. And that in high school is what we still believe it any 30, 40, 50, 60. Right. We should evolve. We shouldn't stay stagnant. And so I think there's some subtlety and nuance that we all have to get a little bit better at, which is just because I may say something different today than what I said years ago doesn't mean I'm being inauthentic. Hopefully what it means is I'm actually learning and growing and evolving. But for people to recognize that leaders have to share that journey, right? You can't just go from A to Z and assume that people are going to know that that's an authentic evolution. You've got to share the journey I started here. Here's what I've learned. Here's the mistakes I've made. Here's the things that have shaped and impacted me. Here's what I know now that I didn't know then, right? Whatever it is. And here's how I think about that now. And ten years from now, I may think about it differently, right? Because I am a continuing, evolving person. So I try and orient my clients in that way to share that kind of authenticity if they are, in fact changing a point of view on something. If they're not right, then you stay consistent with what you've been. But what I always caution people against is, you know, if you are going to say something or have a point of view and there are actions, communications, whatever it is out there that suggests something different, you better have a compelling reason why you're shifting course now.

Clinton Larson So going back to the journey of being a leader in a new role, what are some of the key things you think are necessary in those early few months, those early few years, in order to make sure that they are successful in that role? You know, some of the stuff we were just talking about, you know, how can they make sure they're building the skills they need right away to lay the foundation for future success?

Vanessa Ruda So this is going to sound very cliche, but I'm going to say listening is going to be a huge component of listening to the stakeholders within your organization, listening to your customers or clients who, you know, depending on your business and listening to good mentors, you know, who have been in some sort of similar position, who can provide counsel around, hey, this is what caught me off guard. Have your radar up for that. I really believe listening is critically important. I think a close second to that is being able to filter the information you hear. Right. You're going to listen to a lot of things. Everyone's going to have a point of view. Everyone is going to want something, right. So as we try and meet everyone's needs, you're going to absolutely be paralyzed. So being really deliberate about listening, but being equally as deliberate about saying, okay, I have to take all of this, I have to synthesize it, I have to filter it, and I have to land on what I believe to be the most critical priorities that we're going to focus on as an organization. And I have to have a reason why. Right. So I've heard 50 different things. We're going to focus on these five. Here's why I think that's critically important and something that I orient people toward. So that would probably be the first thing I would say in terms of what makes or breaks somebody's success in those early years. The other thing, and this is a balancing act, it is the combination of simultaneously having a strong point of view, you know, a decisive, deliberate direction on, you know, where are we going, what are our priorities, etc. Right. Being kind of resolute in that. Mm hmm. And at the same time, being open to new information that might make you say, I need to pivot. And that's a hard balance to strike. Right. And I see leaders all the time lean to heavily, you know, 2 to 1 side of that. Right. Either those who are so staunch and resolute that they they can't see the warning signs that says you're going down the wrong path. Mm hmm. Other leaders who are so, you know, who want to be so collaborative. Right. That that they, you know, they're blowing in the wind and they can't actually direct the organization one way or another. So managing that balance of having your radar up for information that would suggest you need to shift course. But at the same time, being resolute and unapologetic for the direction that you believe the organization needs to go, I think is a critical success factor.

Clinton Larson That probably feeds into a lot of what you were saying earlier about ambiguity in the role. The lonely at the top kind of feelings that can come with that, because I imagine it's a, you know, like you just described, being the person who's expected to figure it out and stick to their guns, but also listen to everyone and make sure that they're taking into account other people's opinions at the same time. And it's got to be a tricky high wire act at times, I imagine.

Vanessa Ruda Well, it very much is. And I think, you know, the other nuance I would point to is listening does not mean doing what somebody might want you to do. There's a difference. And it feeds into this authenticity. And I think a lot of leaders struggle with this right of being able to say, I genuinely want to understand where you're coming from. I genuinely want your point of view. I'm taking it into account, and I may genuinely decide not to act on the things you want me to act like. For a variety of reasons. All of those things can be true. And that's a that's a fine line to walk I hear all the time. Well, you know, someone's asking for my opinion, but they don't really want it. They've already made up their mind. I'm sure you've heard that too. And so really making it clear. Clear, I do care. I do want to understand. I can't promise what I'm going to do yet with that information. But what I am going to do is give you my rationale for whatever decisions get made.

Clinton Larson Right. That makes that makes a lot of sense. And in terms of the journey further into their career, when, you know, they sort of they then maybe they have a handle on some of these things we've just been discussing. But there's going to be inevitable ups and downs that are externally coming in that they can't control, say, like a recession or something like that or a pandemic as we just experienced. What are some keys to success when you are in the throes of something like that, something unexpected, something a curveball that comes your way? How can how can leaders make sure that they're still staying the course in terms of being true to themselves and true to the vision of their organization?

Vanessa Ruda So I think some of it actually starts before the unexpected crisis hits. And this kind of goes back to what I was saying before about managing one's energy. And it may sound kind of floaty, but, you know, when a crisis hits, you want to have as much in the tank as you can, right, if you will. And you never know when that's going to be. If a crisis hits at a point where you are just where you've got nothing to give because you haven't been managing your own energy. Human nature, right? There's only so much you can do. There's only so much capacity you have. So this notion of, you know, almost kind of preparing for a rainy day from an energy management standpoint, you know, I've got to kind of keep myself as nourished as I can, if you will, because I don't know when there's going to be a crisis. And I need to be as sharp and focused and resilient as I can in those moments. So some of it is, is kind of the pre work that you do just in terms of managing your life, managing your energy. In the lead up to that, I think some of it is making sure you've got a really strong team around you and again that predates the you know the of the. Of a crisis. Part of why I don't ever recommend that leaders are kind of a one person show because in a one person show, there's just too much risk and too much burden people carry. So the importance of having a really, really strong team with complementary skills so that when a crisis hits, you know, that you can lean on the person who looks at the world in a different way than you do. You know, if you're sky is falling, pessimistic person, you know, you've got someone who kind of sees the brighter side and can think about things from a standpoint of opportunity. If you know that you're not a detailed person, right. But you're come crisis, you need a very detailed plan. You know, you need people on your team who have that detail orientation building, that kind of team with complementary skills is going to be really important again, well in advance of any crisis hitting when a crisis does hit. Leaning on that team, leaning on an outside network again, hopefully that was built well in advance, but leaning on an outside network of people who are in similar roles where you can share ideas and share best practices and share mistakes that you've made becomes critically important as well. So, you know, even as I'm talking out loud, I think a lot of what one does in the moment of crisis is based upon what one does before that crisis ever happens.

Clinton Larson And what are some of what some of the advice you give leaders when they're building out those teams and making sure that they have a diverse array of opinions and skill sets and perspectives? What are some of the tips you can give leaders to build a team that really does complement them and help them be a better leader?

Vanessa Ruda So I always advise them to go through a very thorough assessment process of people that they're considering bringing on to their team so that you really know what you're getting. And does this person have kind of the hard skills, the soft skills, whatever else is needed to do, not only the particular job that you're asking them to do, but to be kind of an enterprise leader as well. So assessment becomes, I think, very important as you're building out that leadership team, being really thoughtful about what is the kind of array of complementary and diverse skills and perspectives that you need. In other words, not letting it happen accidentally, but being intentional about that. So again, if you're a very, very visionary leader, for example, but you struggle to really operationalize things knowing that you're going to need a strong CEO kind of person and role who's going to take your ideas and implement is going to be really important. So knowing what you need, assessing for it and then building it. So just because you populate a team with really great people who have complementary skills doesn't mean that synergy automatically happens, right? You can have a collection of people with great skills, but there's then a lot of work that needs to be done to say, are we aligned around our purpose, our reason for being, or are we aligned around our strategy and our roles and our responsibilities? Do we have clear operating norms around how we're going to how we're going to do hard things? How are we going to make decisions? How are we going to communicate? How are we going to resolve conflicts or disputes? Know what's the culture we want to build? Doing a lot of work upfront to take this collection of hopefully really capable people with complementary skills and perspectives, but actually bringing them together as a team. And that's a that is a task in and of itself that doesn't really happen.

Clinton Larson And also going back to what you mentioned about, you know, having energy in the tank, you know, how they manage their energy. What are some of the advice that you give leaders in terms of making sure that they are taking time to refuel and taking care of themselves and making sure that they do have that energy?

Vanessa Ruda The first thing I talk to people about is just really helping them understand what in fact, is energizing to them. So for me, I know this about myself. I'm actually a deeply introverted person. So for me, I know I need to, you know, and I spend all day, every day talking to clients. And I love what I do, but I know that I need time to not talk to another human. So kind of knowing that, right, knowing what that is for me, it's walking by myself. That's my kind of meditative space for somebody else, right? It's going out to the bar with a whole bunch of friends. So it's, you know, first and foremost, knowing what is in fact, energizing to you and not assuming that what might be energizing for your colleague or your friend is what's going to be energizing for you, knowing kind of how much you need to refill your tank. So I had a client who was just very burned out for a lot of reasons, and he had decided to take like a six-month sabbatical because he was just burned out. And what he realized about three weeks in was all he needed was three long weekends. And then he was like, cool, raring to go, right? He had no he had never taken time off. So he had a concept of what he really needed. So knowing what you actually need, it may be more than someone. It may be less than someone, but. Having a sense of what that is and then being really intentional about doing those things that that work for you and that create the kind of, I say, balance in air quotes because I don't know that any of us are fully balanced, but, you know, you approach balance. So, you know, I'll give you a really quick example of a client of mine who did not do this well, and he's very aware of it. Right. So kind of classic workaholic. And I was talking to him a couple of weeks ago, and it was a very, very busy time for his organization. And he was just on back-to-back video calls. And so he made the foolish decision to not drink water during the day because he didn't want to have to take restroom breaks. He wanted to be able to go all the way through and sure enough, got like a blood clot in his leg. Right. And ended up in the E.R. and is now wearing compression stockings and having to. So now he can't be on video at all because he has to walk around constantly. Right. So he's on the phones and he can be pacing his office while he's drinking water. And, you know, and this person happens to work in the health care industry. Right. So, you know, he's slapping himself on the head, being like, I know better, right? I know this was a foolish thing to do, but I did it anyway.

Clinton Larson And that is that is an industry story that chase very efficient.

Vanessa Ruda Extreme examples of the things that people do.

Clinton Larson Know. Yeah, you're right that the chase for efficiency, that chase to always squeeze a little more time out. And I suppose, you know, especially when you're a leader, I imagine you feel very responsible for, you know, how that trickles down to the rest organization. So I imagine it is it gets hard for some leaders to take a step back and say, okay, well, I do need to take time for myself. I do need to make sure that I think about myself and make sure that I come to people, like you said, as balanced and as ready as possible.

Vanessa Ruda And I would say, you know, just on this example, something, you know, some of the counsel, some of the things we talked about, you know, when you break down, doesn't have to be big, dramatic things, right? Something as simple as do you actually have to have your camera on for every single one of those? Sure. Or could you say to whoever is on the call, hey, I've been on video for 6 hours, I'm on my camera, offer this one so I can walk a little bit. Right. Would that ruin the meeting? And of course, his answer was like, of course not. Right. Of course I could do that. You know, do you in fact, need to be at every one of those meetings? And of course, the answer is no. Of course not. Right. So there's some sometimes it's a hard fix. Sometimes it's a simple fix. One of the things that I will actually tell my clients, particularly in this day and age when we're on video, is if you can walk and talk, do so. So like internally with my colleagues and they all know this about me, if we don't have to be looking at a shared screen, my shoes are on, I'm outside, I'm walking and talking and I'm encouraging them to do the same. And many of the clients I coach have now come to do the same role. They'll say, Oh, I'm so glad I'm talking to you because I know I have an hour where I can be off screen and I can be moving my body while we're talking. So sometimes there's little tweaks that can be very helpful.

Clinton Larson Yeah, that's great advice. So going back to the journey again, obviously every journey has to come to an end at some point. And as leaders, you know, go through the idea of succession process and what they're going to how they're going to, you know, transition their role to somebody else. What are some of the things that you think leaders need to keep in mind? What are some of the tidbits of advice that you give leaders when they're looking at succession to make sure that that transition is as smooth as possible for everyone?

Vanessa Ruda So one thing is to really be thoughtful about, you know, does the organization of the future need what the organization of the present needs? Meaning, as you're looking for a successor, does that person need to be cut from your cloth? Right. Or might they need to be cut from a different cloth because the organization's needs are going to shift? That would be one thing. Second thing is to really and this is hard for a lot of outgoing leaders, but to really give your successor space, to kind of spread their wings and make their own imprint and, you know, kind of shadow you and perhaps have an apprentice, you know, type of if it's a known if it's a known transition, I'm retiring in a year. Right. And here's my successor to use that time, certainly to mentor that individual, to let them kind of shadow of you, if you will, but to let them put their own stamp on things and take over certain decisions, certain processes, certain meetings, whatever it may be, sooner rather than later, so that they can really start to kind of build their own brand, if you will. I think most outgoing leaders, not all but most, tend to hold on pretty tightly in the end because stepping down is not as easy as people may think it is. So I typically see outgoing leaders air on the side of holding on to tight, and my counsel would be let your successor make their mark, build their brand while you're still there in the role right so that there's a safety net and you're not going to let them flounder and flail. There's someone there who's been there, who's sitting in that seat, who kind of knows the ins and outs, and obviously to share all the trade secrets that you possibly can, but to let them establish their own brand.

Clinton Larson That's a great perspective. And I've been asking everyone who's been on the podcast lately, too, especially in this leadership series, you know, if you just had. Some general advice for leaders in 2022 as we sort of transition into what we hope is something resembling normal again. What advice do you have for leaders right now as we look into the future?

Vanessa Ruda Oh, I'm guessing this is probably consistent with what others have shared with you. I think my advice would be now more than ever, and I think for the foreseeable future, taking care of the health and well-being of your overall employee base is a must have not a nice to have. The world is so complex and the things that people are facing are so complex and the choices that people have right as we become as we move back to normal, but as we also are going to be living in a much more virtual world. People have choices. And I think leaders and the companies that they run have to have a focus on being thoughtful about the well-being of their overall employee base. It doesn't mean that they do that in lieu of profit. Right. These are for profit entities. And we all have to be honest about that. But my biggest piece of advice would be don't lose sight of the human beings who are working in your organization.

Clinton Larson That is great advice now and I would imagine in any time in the future. So this has been an awesome conversation miss that. Thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Vanessa Ruda Thank you so much for having me. It's really been a pleasure.