“How To Give A $H*T – Drive High Performance & Engagement”: Hannah Hosemann with Affinity (Video + Transcript)

April 12, 2024

With nearly two decades of experience in global, award-winning customer success teams, Hannah Hosemann (Affinity Director, Onboarding & Implementation) believes in the power of genuine care – Every interaction is a mentoring opportunity. She will explore the impact of authentic, personal connections on team dynamics and performance, and how genuine care can foster a positive work culture. Attendees will learn practical strategies for developing emotional intelligence in leadership to understand and respond effectively to the unique needs and motivations of team members. Discover actionable techniques for leaders to create an environment where team members feel valued and supported, leading to higher engagement and sustained high performance.


In this ELEVATE session, Hannah Hosemann
(Director of Onboarding and Implementation at Affinity) discusses her philosophy for leading high-performing and highly-engaged teams, which she calls SHIT (sincerity, honesty, integrity, and trust).

She shares personal stories and experiences to illustrate the importance of these principles in leadership, and emphasizes the need for authenticity, transparency, clear communication, accountability, and building trust with team members. 

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Transcript of ELEVATE Session:

Hannah Hosemann:

Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here. Thanks everybody. Well, I’m going to dive in. I want to get as much goodness out of this as possible. First, as Angie mentioned, my name is Hannah Hosemann and today I’ll be sharing my philosophy for leading high-performing and highly-engaged teams. Before I do so, allow me to introduce myself.

I’m the Director of Onboarding and Implementation at Affinity, the leading provider for relationship intelligence software. I lead a team of implementation experts. We are the first stop in the customer journey for Affinity, and our role is to help customers set up the Affinity solutions.

In addition, I’m a co-founder and co-CEO of a wellness beauty brand named Element Candles, an Othos brand. We have been featured in Martha Stewart, Women’s Wear Daily, New Beauty, and we’re ranked some of the cleanest burning candles on the market by beauty bloggers of mindbodygreen. As mentioned, I have nearly two decades of experience specializing in global award-winning SaaS customer success, support and implementation.

But who am I really? Well, I’m a daughter, I’m a wife, I’m a sister, I’m a dog mom to three amazing miniature Schnauzers, Ella, Patch, and Zeke. I’m a business owner, hobby crafter. I do glassblowing and ceramics. I’m a travel connoisseur, a foodie, a music lover who absolutely knows no lyrics at all. So don’t quiz me.

Before I dive into my philosophy, allow me to share a little bit about how I got started and my journey overall. I went to college with the ambition of being a thriving visual artist. However, my desire to eat outweighed my love of art. I had an opportunity for me to enter the nonprofit community aiding arts organizations, and I grabbed it.

I then landed a job with a software provider who created software for nonprofits to manage their organizations, and I began as a phone operator. Through extensive mentoring, I worked my way up from a phone operator to a customer success leader.

Nine years ago, I discovered that I’m actually allergic to most candles on the market, so my husband and I set out to make candles, which I would be able to burn in our home. But with all my experience being an employee and leading teams, I found one consistent.

Your leader can literally change your life for positive or negative. Love it. Thank you, Kelly. I also love the fine arts. Over the next few slides, I’ll be reviewing what SHIT is, why SHIT matters, how SHIT has impacted my life, and how SHIT can impact yours too.

Transparently, I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years. When I first was selected to lead a team, I tried to be everyone but myself as imposter syndrome actually is a real thing. It wasn’t until I put my personality forward, becoming authentic, that I realized how I could lead my team effectively and actually creating my own principles, which I’m calling SHIT.

To start, let’s review what SHIT is. It is comprised of four pillars. Just like Captain Planet, when you know we have earth, wind, water, we have sincerity, honesty, integrity, and trust, and you need to have all four of them. If you just have one, it’s not going to work.

We’ll be reviewing each one of these principles and sharing some stories in how I identified these components to be important pillars for me and actionable ways you can incorporate them into your life.

I’m seeing a lot of people on here having lots of different experiences and it’s important to call out you don’t have to be a people leader to leverage these. You can be an IC, an aspiring people leader, an active team lead. Anything goes. They’re just basic principles that will help you be better relationships across the board.

Let’s dive in and let’s start with S. S is for sincerity, being genuine and authentic without an agenda, but with a goal to produce authentic connections. There’s quite a few ways that you can show sincerity. A few which stand out to me are – transparency in communication, consistency, respect for others, authenticity, empathy and compassion, inclusivity, accountability and genuine interactions. But I’m going to start by sharing my experience, and I’m going to be humble here for a moment, so apologies in advance.

When I first became a leader, I made a lot of mistakes. I mentioned that earlier. I tried to be everyone else but myself. I became someone that I wouldn’t want to work with and quite frankly, definitely would not want to work for. I became serious. I failed to give my team grace. I coached like everyone was everyone. One size spray coaching. I took other people’s mistakes as my own failures, and I felt that because I was good at my job, quite frankly, I knew best.

It wasn’t until my mentor looked at me and said, “What the heck is wrong with you? We did not hire you for you trying to be everyone else or whatever this is.” That was the shakeup that I needed.

I looked inside to identify who I wanted to be as a leader, and at that moment, I began incorporating active listening, genuine thoughtfulness, and understanding that most people actually want to do a good job at work. With that, I began approaching conversations differently.

I began approaching coaching conversations as heartfelt interactions where I’m here to help you grow. Not I’m reprimanding you and telling you you’re doing something wrong. I found that I was able to build stronger, more authentic relationships with both my peers and my team by leveraging that.

Both my team and I worked harder for each other because we both cared for each other. We both wanted to see the person succeed. I was able to identify their strengths, where and how to foster them, and then also learn what their goals were and give people opportunities through that.

Let’s go into H for honesty. Honesty is being transparent in communications, providing clear expectations and building respect. Some of the principles of honesty in leadership are truthfulness in what you say, transparent in your motives, good intention, fair in feedback, constructive and quite frankly, genuine intent.

Over the years, people have honestly looked to me asking for advice on how to become a leader. While there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all program, honesty in coaching and mentoring is probably number one in my book.

Allow me to tell you a story of an individual contributor’s experience on my team. They wanted to be a leader. This person was amazing at their role, but being a leader really wasn’t quite in the cards for them at that moment. Because they were really good at their role but like I said, just a couple moments with my mistakes, it’s more about your abilities to get somebody else into that role and less about you doing that role.

I needed to be honest, but in a constructive and not hurtful way. I shared that I saw potential and that they weren’t quite ready to be a manager. However, with some coaching, I was sure that we could get them ready for leadership.

Instead of just saying, “Hey, you’re not quite there,” I offered to help. We developed a leadership program focused on those leadership essentials, which we’re discussing today. The SHIT ones, the sincerity, honesty, integrity, and trust – and together we grew. I met them with weekly meetings. We were a team.

We wanted both of us to be successful. I wanted the person to be a leader and they wanted to be a leader. With this, we were able to make a difference. Foreshadowing, the person actually became a successful people leader. Bringing it all home, what really made this difference for this person is that it was all about honesty. Setting the expectation of what is going to set them up for success and understanding where they are and how to get to that next level.

I is for integrity, consistency of actions and values to create relatable and ethical leadership. Have you ever been at a restaurant, remember, I’m a foodie, that was incredible the first time you went and then you went back a second time and it was awful? You didn’t rush back. Now let’s pretend that you go to the restaurant and instead of having just a bad experience, somebody comes out and apologizes and recognizes that it really wasn’t their good night. I’ll bet you’ll give them another chance.

Integrity in leadership’s a lot like that. Let’s be real. Just because you get the leadership title doesn’t magically make you a perfect leader. In the workplace, integrity can show up in many different ways. Consistency in how you show up to work, accountability to work, admitting when you made a mistake, reliable to getting things done and hitting your deadlines and also, transparent and vulnerable, fair and equal to all. I fail. We all do.

Allow me to share one of my failures so you don’t have to. One of my team members provided some feedback. It was meant to be constructive, but all I could hear was criticism, frustration, and it was likely me. But at that moment, it didn’t matter whether it was the delivery, whether it was me, what I just had come from.

What mattered was is that I found myself getting defensive, and that’s not normally my style. I realized I was the one putting up walls. My body language was like a cat ready to pounce. Despite the delivery, this person was genuinely trying to help in giving their honest feedback, and quite frankly, that’s really hard to do.

I paused the conversation. I thanked them for sharing, and I also admitted that I really wasn’t in the best place to receive the message. I suggested that we hit pause, giving me some time to digest the words. We wrapped up the call and I replayed this feedback over and over, sifting through to get to the core of the concerns.

When we reconnected, I kicked off with an apology for my reaction and expressed my gratitude for their honesty. I offered to coach them on delivering feedback as well, as what they said was really important. We as leaders needed to hear this, but how they said was where I think we could have massaged it. They were superbly grateful for this opportunity to partner.

Integrity became a critical principle in my leadership style, as it’s not that we may make mistakes or if we will make mistakes. There’s a guarantee. It’s when we’re going to make mistakes and there’s nothing more concerning than not giving people the honesty back and knowing that we’re humans.

T is for trust. The foundation allows us for vulnerability and risk taking. I am terrified of heights. I am also the slowest rock climber in the history of the world. But when I’m harnessed in and my husband’s belaying me, I feel like I can literally tackle any mountain. Now it is strictly because I trust him.

Same thing for leadership. People are naturally scared to fail, and when you’re working with a group of people who want to be successful, the fear can actually stall success. In the workplace, trust can show in many ways. Reliability, respectful communication, understanding that each person is a unique person and brings different skill sets to the team, fair and equal to all.

Allow me to tell a story of what this may look like in the real world. In technical support, every call is a new adventure. Client on the line fuming over what they think and expected versus what the actual product capability or whatever it is capability that you have. Their demands were extremely high.

On our end, we had a team member trying their best to keep up, make the customer happy. The team member was terrified that this customer would escalate, causing them more work or worse, penalization. That’s when I decided to jump in on the call, not to take over (the associate was doing phenomenally) but to lend a hand in navigating this situation.

I listened to the client to ensure that they had an outlet to articulate their frustrations, but I was upfront with the client acknowledging their frustrations, but also, gently setting the record straight on what was doable and what’s not. We set expectations on the next steps and followed through, which in turn reinforces trust to the customers.

In this instance, it wasn’t about fixing the issue at hand. It was about showing that we cared and that we were going to be their partner. Most importantly, as a leader, my actions that I took showed my team member that I would be vulnerable. I would put myself in the line of fire alongside with them, and I would always have their backs.

The last story of today is about my favorite leader. They set the bar high for their team and then even higher for themselves. They knew what to do and held you accountable. They knew what you could do and they held you accountable. They were all in all the time. No matter how late and what holiday it was, they were there for you if you needed.

You always knew where you stood. They laid everything out on the table. They coached privately, praised publicly, but always were jumping in to provide feedback and look for opportunities to mentor, to help you grow. Not just at your job, but as a person too. They weren’t afraid to show their human side, owning up to their mistakes. They were the first to cheer you on when you nailed it, and they genuinely cared about what happened to you and your world, both at work and to beyond the office walls.

As my parting gift to you, I encourage that you each find a trusted mentor or a friend to help you practice the principles of SHIT: sincerity, honesty, integrity, and trust. Wrapping this up, it’s clear that giving a SHIT isn’t about being your team’s best friend. It’s about being there, showing up when you need somebody, when they need you the most. Having their backs, your team’s growth, celebrating their successes, and always making it personal. That is the shit that makes the difference.

With that said, I would love questions, and so feel free to chime in. I think there were some in the chat. Some actionable items to be a manager. I love that question. Thank you. I will tell you the actionable items to being a manager, a lot of it is coaching.

Our job as leaders is to make your lives easier, is to remove obstacles and give you the freedom to have the abilities to do your job effectively without any burden. In this instance, a lot of it is understanding how to de-burden and how to make people’s lives better, but also to give recommendations, feedback, coaching along the way.

Feel free to connect with me if you have a specific… I would love to talk more about your specific role, what you’re aiming for, and how do we get you there.

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