Exploring Motivation and Finding Purpose in Life
In this episode, our host Margaret Uhrich discusses various aspects of leadership and management with guest Erwin de Leon, Chief Diversity Officer at Columbia University. They emphasize the significance of transparency in managing teams and the challenges faced by middle managers. The conversation also delves into exploring motivation and finding purpose in life, as well as the lessons learned from both effective and ineffective leaders.
Erwin de Leon, Ph.D., serves as the Chief Diversity Officer and faculty member at Columbia University School of Professional Studies. With over 25 years of leadership experience, he’s a distinguished figure in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices and holds notable recognitions as one of Crain’s NY 2022 Notable LGBTQ Leaders, City & State NY’s 2022 Responsible 100, and PoliticsNY 2023 Power Players in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Dr. De Leon is an authority on DEI, nonprofit management, and public policy, making him an invaluable guest for conversations on leadership, teaching, research, and social change. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Better People Podcast:
- Transparency is crucial for understanding and fulfilling organizational goals.
- Middle managers face a natural tension between their team and their boss.
- Asking key questions before taking on a leadership role can clarify expectations.
- Garnering support from senior leaders is crucial for a successful rollout.
- Being realistic about potential challenges and the level of support from senior leaders can help prevent frustration and burnout.
- Service for others has been a lifelong passion, instilled by the Jesuits.
- Service can be offered in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors.
Connect with Erwin de Leon:
Connect with Margaret Uhrich:
- 03:20 – “Most of you know this, most people know this, you need not be a manager or have the title to be a leader. In any organization. So that’s number one. Why? Because if you’re a leader, you’re able to motivate others and give others a vision or a purpose of why are we doing what we’re doing? And I’ve seen where I’ve been in teams, and maybe I’m that leader where we’re meaning where, you know, the manager or whoever’s heading the team knows where we’re headed. Like, okay, we need to increase sales, we need to do this, but doesn’t really inspire or provide a certain vision or purpose to the rest of us, right? Who are following this. Now that, for me is a manager.”
- 21:20 – “If you’re not being realistic, and it’ll burn you out and worse, it’ll burn your team members. So here you are very passionate, you get other folks with you, but then you hit the roadblock and you realize, oh, you would’ve known that if you did your homework. And this is hard to hear, but maybe you’ll realize that if you really, really care about something, then maybe this isn’t the place to do it.”
- 18:48 – “As a leader, it’s nice to see folks who take the initiative. It’s a good thing. And I think, and in a way keeps your work interesting. And if you really care and passionate about something, whether it’s the technology or getting new markets, absolutely have at it. But make sure you do, I always say, I just say this, just pause. Take a scan, take a scan of the organization, know who the players are, know what the bigger picture in the organization and what is the mission. How will this fit in? How will you make your argument? So just being realistic.”
- 23:20 – “But one thing I would just want to pick up on what you said about control. I think ’cause one of the ancient wisdoms that you know, you’ve probably heard about and I think is very important is that be very aware of what you can control and cannot control. And sometimes even with the best, you know, you have your spreadsheets, you have your data analysis, you’ve done every year homework. And this is just on your own. And you realize, okay, I’m going to go for this. But things still happen, right? Things still happen. The person, your champion in the C-suite might move on, or a pandemic happens or economic downturn happens. So I think part of it is like, you know, enjoying the process.”
- 25:20 – Margaret – “What is something that you’re really passionate about now, like today that you’re working on or hoping to work on, hoping to make happen?”
Erwin: “Oh, that’s hard to pin down, but I think on a personal level it’s more just living a good life, right? I know it sounds very philosophical, but just doing my best. And I think it’s part of getting older too and realizing accepting things about what I can do and cannot do.”