Supporting Women at Work with Kate Eberle Walker

Kate Eberle Walker is the CEO of PresenceLearning, the leading provider of online special education services for K-12 schools. In this role, she leads a majority female employee population, whose mission is not only to provide students with learning needs, but to provide a flexible career path for nearly 1,000 special education clinicians, many of whom are working mothers. Kate became the CEO of The Princeton Review at age 39. Prior to that, she navigated the male-dominated investment world at Goldman Sachs working her way up through management roles. She shares tell-it-like-it is advice with her fellow managers and in her book The Good Boss: 9 Ways Every Manager Can Support Women at Work.

Inside this Episode:

  • Should Women Adapt to the Culture Or Should the Culture Adapt to Women?
  • Hidden Realities of Being a Woman in the Corporate World
  • Identifying Inclusive and Exclusive Behaviors on Teams
  • Unconscious Micro-Aggressions And What To Do About Them
  • What an Organization Filled with “Good Bosses” Looks Like
  • How To Get Started on Becoming a Good Boss
  • What It's Really Like For New Moms Returning to Work
  • How to Immediately Engage Parents as They Return to Work
  • Being Proactive and Asking For What You Want





The Good Boss

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John Ryan
You're listening to key conversations for leaders. This is episode number 48. Welcome everybody. In today's episode, we'll be talking about supporting women at work with Kate Eberle Walker, we're going to be covering what it means to be a good boss, identifying unconscious microaggressions and what to do about them, the hidden realities of being a woman in the corporate world, and the power of being proactive and asking for what you want and much, much more.

John Ryan 0:30
Leadership is about vision. It's about creating a vision and sharing that vision with others in a way that inspires them to walk with you towards its fulfillment. Along the way, leaders encourage, motivate, guide and even challenge people to bring their best each and every day. And it's all done through conversations. That's what this show is about better conversations for better leaders. Hey, everybody, and welcome to key conversations. For leaders. I'm your host John Ryan, and today we have very special guest, Kate Eberle Walker, Kate is the CEO of presence learning the leading provider of online special education services for K through 12 schools. In this role, she leads a majority female employee population, whose mission is to not only provide students with learning needs, but to provide a flexible career path for nearly 1000 Special Education clinicians, many of whom are working mothers, Kate became the CEO of the Princeton Review at age 39. Prior to that, she navigated the male dominated investment world at Goldman Sachs, working her way up through management roles, she shares tell it like it is advice with their fellow managers. In her book, the good boss, nine ways every manager could support women at work. Welcome the show. Kate,

Kate Eberle Walker 1:41
Thank you so much for having me.

John Ryan 1:43
I want to start by asking you, can you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming CEO of presence learning?

Kate Eberle Walker 1:50
Yes, absolutely. So I have to say, I, when I started my career, I never contemplated that I would become a CEO of anything. I really, I loved finance. I loved math, I loved numbers, as you said, I went into investment banking, I started my career at Goldman Sachs. And I spent about five years there, went to business school and then and then came into the education industry right out of business school and ended up working for nine years at Kaplan, a large educational company and I led their m&a, I started all their acquisitions, venture, investment, all of that. And you really got to know everything about the business of education, and, you know, got to study ultimately, hundreds and hundreds of education companies through that job was a really cool job. And it wasn't until my later years there that I realized that I you know, I just had formed like really, really strong opinions of my own about what made for a good company and how a company should be run.

Kate Eberle Walker 2:53
And you know, I mean, when you do mergers and acquisitions, you're always putting together these plans and working with management teams. And you know, something just evolved for me along the way, where I started to realize, well, I want to do that, too. So I left Kaplan, I joined I see which is very Diller's company, they had recently bought tutor comm their first education business, and they were building up a team to grow that and invest in more education companies. And that was kind of this very pivotal career moment for me, because, you know, as I said, I was starting to change kind of my own aspirations and what I wanted. And then the magic was I went to work for a female CEO for the first time and Mandy Ginsburg, our CEO at Tutor was, you know, really, really a mentor to me and a role model and just kind of it was at that point, watching her learning from her that I thought, Oh, this is something that I want to do that I can do. And you know, I was lucky enough to have that mentor who who saw me as her successor and developed me. So it was through that, that, that I we bought the Princeton Review, I became the CEO. And that kind of put me on a path to the C suite.

John Ryan 4:05
Congratulations on that as well. Up to that point prior to seeing your mentor. It sounds like in a way, like Was there any reluctance? Like Did you ever see yourself as the head of the organization?

Kate Eberle Walker 4:16
It was really funny, I, I really never thought about it. I just thought that I, you know, I guess I thought I was pretty good at m&a. And I was, you know, a good negotiator. And I knew my numbers. And I thought, you know, this is, this is my skill. This is what companies want to hire me to do. And there was this really critical conversation that I had a couple of years before I ended up leaving Kaplan it was with one of the business unit CEOs there. And he he offered me the opportunity to come work for him in his division and run a piece of the business to you know, come run a p&l and I was, you know, really like knee jerk reaction. dismiss it. I was like, No, that's Not, that's not what I do. That's not what Kaplan pays me to do. You know, I'm not even sure I really fully considered it. So, you know, I didn't know it was a significant conversation at the time I realized it because it kind of got in my head that, you know, he saw me that way and even said, He's like, what do you see yourself doing in five years? Because I see you being a really good CEO. And I was like, No, no, no, I'm not. That's not me. That's not, that's not who I am. I mean, maybe, maybe a CEO, maybe you like number two to somebody, you're really helping them execute on their plan. But it was just this, you know, I don't know, this, this block that I didn't yet see myself that way. And I thought a ton about it.

Kate Eberle Walker 5:42
And, you know, why did Yeah, he was exactly right. I mean, who saw what, you know, what I would become what I could become? Why didn't I believe him? Why did it take a few more years, I think it did have to do with something that a lot of women struggle with, you know, I, I was watching all of these men, all of the CEOs that I had worked with, up until then more men, and I guess I didn't relate enough, I didn't connect enough to see that, you know, I could, I could do that too. I could be, you know, maybe a different kind of a CEO. So I needed I get a little more literal of a role model for myself before I kind of came around to it. And now, you know, I've sort of stayed close with him. And he gives me a hard time that he, you know, is definitely and I told you so moment for him a few years later, when I did become a CEO.

John Ryan 6:28
Well, it's so great that he saw something in you that you were just beginning to see in yourself. And imagine now you can, is I imagine it's one of the pieces of a good boss is seeing and others what they don't see themselves? No, what was it that really inspired you to write the book, the good boss,

Kate Eberle Walker 6:44
When I started writing this book, I actually thought it was going to be something a little different, it came out of these mentoring conversations that I was having with younger women. So once I became a CEO, you know, I get asked for advice, how did you do it? What are your recommendations, and you I started writing about that, I thought, well, there aren't enough female leaders out there, right, like, five 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. So I thought, you know, there's never gonna be enough women leaders, there's gonna be a long time before, there's enough that every element could actually have a real life mentor, who's a female, so I'm going to write this book that's gonna, you know, amplify, and I'm going to write down all the advice that I have, so that, you know, any, any element who wants to can read it, and I started writing it. And, you know, I really recognized something that I did not like about my advice, which was a lot of it was about how to adapt yourself how to how to maneuver in the world of business, you know, the world of men, in some cases, you know, how how to sort of make yourself acceptable and accepted in, in the companies that you were navigating, and I just, I didn't want it to be that.

Kate Eberle Walker 8:00
And, and so I shifted, and, you know, it was, it was recognizing that flaw. And I think also, as I became more and more comfortable, confident in my own CEO, roles, recognizing, like the real power that you have, when you're leading a company, I just started to, to feel like you know, that I don't want to write this book for women telling them what to do and how to adapt themselves. I want to write it for managers and bosses and tell them what they need to do, and how they need to take responsibility, because they're the ones with the power to actually change the environment. So it came out of that about, you know, wanting to, you know, shift the burden from one end to the, to the people who are responsible for them in their careers.

John Ryan 8:41
Is that still a challenge? And maybe not only for yourself, but for people in general, is how much do I adapt myself to the environment, which is, in a way accepting the norms and culture as it is, versus being authentic and also trying to shift the culture by being who we are called to be as well.

Kate Eberle Walker 8:59
It always is, it's still a challenge. For me, it's still something where, you know, I'm, I think I'm much more aware, as I as I keep on moving forward in my career have those moments where, you know, I think of how I'm being perceived, and, you know, I catch myself sort of, you know, being extra careful about what I say or how I say it. And, you know, it's something that I I actually noticed when I was writing this book, so there's a lot of other CEOs and leaders who are featured in the book who I interview about their strategies, their experiences and so you know, when you when you're in the final stages of writing the book, you go back around and and you ask everyone to you show them what you wrote of their words, and you ask them to sign a release for the book, right? So when I did that, I noticed this interesting, unintentional AV tests that I ran, were all up to 100%.

Kate Eberle Walker 9:54
All of the male CEOs and leaders just very quickly replied back Like, yep, looks great. Here you go. Here's your here's my signature. Great. Yeah, let me know when the book comes out. And every female leader to 100% had at least one, if not multiple rounds of edits of can you change this word? Could you? Could you sit? Could you could I say this, instead of that, you know, we're much more careful and thoughtful about not just the substance of what they said, but how exactly they said it. And I thought it was really representative to me of this ongoing challenge that a lot of women face that, you know, they are they, they have to be careful about, you know, how their words are perceived and received, not just about the substance of what they say.

John Ryan 10:44
That's incredibly insightful. Thank you so much for sharing that it's something that I imagine people don't know. And notice, is that that wall that analysis, like, is this the right thing? How will this impact home perceived and it's happening? And it sounds like based on that, you know, micronas probably a macro as well, that that men don't necessarily have that self regulation or self awareness. Not that they don't, but I don't know if that's the right word.

Kate Eberle Walker 11:08
Yeah. self regulation. I mean, I like that word for it. I think that's what it is, or self discipline. And I think it's that, you know, men men don't have to, to the same degree as women, you know, it's not, you know, I've certainly been been accused in my lifetime of maybe overanalyzing things. But it's, it's not just that it's not, you know, it's not just me, I'm overthinking. Or I'm being too careful. It's for a reason, it's because you know, you see as a woman, what a difference it can make in your success, whether it's, you know, negotiating a salary or something like that, you know, you see that it matters a lot what you say how you ask? So yeah, I think you, you know, you internalize it, and you become more and more careful.

John Ryan 11:55
It's amazing how those little details reveal much more about the whole pattern at large. And, of course, we're talking about generalities. So we're not saying all people, all men, all women, of course, but we're looking at tendencies overall, which gives us insight on where we're at. What are some other realities that that men in men or women may not be aware of? that women go through in, in the workplace that we should be aware of?

Kate Eberle Walker 12:18
Yeah, I think that there's you know, there's, there's been a lot a lot written, which, which I think is good that that people are becoming more aware of it about the the dynamics of speaking and meetings and being heard being given, you know, who gets credit for ideas there? Yeah, I learned a new term, at some point along the way of researching this, which is heat, keep eating, when you know, a woman has said something in a meeting, and then a man repeats it, you know, a little more loudly, or, you know, in a way that that it suddenly is his idea, not her idea.

Kate Eberle Walker 12:55
There's a lot of a lot of that dynamic happens in meetings, I write a bit about it in a book, I really like an example from David Siegel, the CEO of meetup and how he has, he has really been deliberate in changing the way meetings are run, to, to give to give not just women but introverts is how he talks about it to get give people who don't naturally have loud voices, or, you know, naturally feel like the types who jump in and interject or talk over people to give everybody a chance and equal chance to have their ideas be heard. That that that's something that a lot of women do encounter is that you know that, that dynamic in meetings or in conversations where, you know, Unless Unless you talk a lot louder than that, you know, you're you're not necessarily comfortable with it, your natural voice volume, you know, or unless you get comfortable interrupting and talking over people, which is, you know, not a natural tendency for a lot of women. You know, you're at a disadvantage in terms of getting getting your ideas to be heard.

John Ryan 14:01
You already shared like your transition from mentoring younger women and professionals and saying, Hey, here's how you can adapt and mold yourself to fit into this environment and to kind of switching the rules. And let's, let's change the culture overall. Why do you think some bosses struggle in mentoring and helping, you know, women reach their full potential in the corporate world?

Kate Eberle Walker 14:23
There's, a couple of different things I've noticed. One is, you know, I think, Well, I think it's important to say that most  managers, most bosses really, genuinely want to do better. They want to do more to support women, you know, men absolutely included. And, you know, a lot of the men that I interviewed and talked with about this book, I think, are they don't want to seem inauthentic. They, you know, they, they're, they're sensitive to like, I don't want to be that guy who comes in like, well, I'm gonna, you know, I'm gonna take care of this. I'm gonna get you what you need, you know that there's this nervousness that that I think emerges over time where you want to be supportive, but you want to make sure you do it in the right way. And you don't come off as being like, you know, presumptive or, or thinking that, you know, you're, you're the answer to her to her problems.

Kate Eberle Walker 15:18
So I think there's this hesitation from a lot of managers, especially men, where they don't want to come off as obnoxious. Or as you know, thinking that they're, they're the answer. And so that holds that holds bosses back for sure. I think another thing that holds, you know, maybe all humans back is giving direct, honest feedback, right? Like, that's, I mean, that's a whole topic, it's really hard. I think everybody struggles with it, no matter what their level with, you know, really giving that honest feedback, especially when it's critical. And I think that dynamic takes on an outsized discomfort when genders brought in as well. And I think that people can have these perceptions of women that, you know, might sound dated, but they still exist out there, if you know, we, you know, can she handle it, I don't want to be mean, you know, I feel like I need to be polite. So, you know, sometimes that can be a downfall for managers of women that they're, you know, a little too careful or a little too chivalrous is maybe the way to say it. You know, instead of just being honest, when I think we all know, even though we know it could be hard to do that. Honesty is almost always the best thing to do as a manager.

John Ryan 16:37
So with with feedback of your mind, we explore a little bit, is there a different way that you feel in your experience that women prefer to receive feedback then than men? Or is it universal, that we just want honest, direct feedback? Like you're saying?

Kate Eberle Walker 16:49
Yeah, I think that it's universal. I think I think most women, when you ask them say they'd rather just be spoken to, like the men are, and they're very conscious and aware of when that's not happening. I mean, I, you know, I've definitely felt that throughout my own career to that, like, Oh, he's, he's being a little nicer to me than he was to the guys like, he jokes around with them, where he teases that he gives them a harder time. And, you know, you notice that when, you know, you see the guys getting that and then to you, you know, you give a presentation, and then it's you know, just like Thank you, Kate, it's You're too polite. So I think that that most women just want to be treated the same.

John Ryan 17:34
I could tell they're granted exclusivity, you know, us versus them and outside our current perspective, if there's one, you know, behavior that you could banish, or wave a magic wand that was from the workplace, what would it be for men or women? I think we can look at that way too.

Kate Eberle Walker 17:51
One behavior? That's such a good question. I, you know, I'm going to go back to the basic one. So the first chapter of my book is all about names, getting names, right. And, you know, as we were talking about that, that difference in, you know, the banter that, you know, sometimes you see among men and women feel left out, one, one of the biggest things is that men often get much more often get addressed by their last name. And that can be, you know, that can just be a nickname, you know, like a walker.

Kate Eberle Walker 18:24
That doesn't happen with women. And I think whether it's banishing embellishing the using of the last names or, you know, making it universal. I think that if everybody, if everybody equally used the last name nickname, across men and women, it would make a huge, huge, huge difference. Because sometimes it's about just that, equalizing the Yeah, the comfort and the friendliness, but it also can be about conveying respect, the, you know, when you refer to there's really interesting studies where you realize that male professors get referred to, by their last name, you know, more than 50% as often as female professors and in scientists, it's even more so political politicians the same so you this, the last name thing, I think, is a big one, that if everybody just were, you know, more aware and didn't didn't overuse it with one gender versus the other, I think it would make a big difference. And it's in, that's the kind of, that's the kind of thing, the kind of change that I love, because it's very doable, right? Like it doesn't require people to, you know, intrinsically change their personalities, it's just something to remember.

John Ryan 19:34
That's, that's really fascinating. So that simple thing doesn't seem like a big deal. But of course, it's none of these things are intentional. These are often unconscious biases that we have. But calling a male colleague versus a female colleague by last name versus first name could also be a power thing to as well as an affinity like inner circle versus outer circle and closeness. And so by becoming aware of that simple thing, you can dramatically create more inclusivity versus exclusivity sounds like in the orders. Yeah.

Kate Eberle Walker 20:02
Yeah. And you know, and you know, when you said that it just made me think I wonder if sometimes the hesitation to do it with women is I know people get tripped up about weight issue Miss or Mrs. Or Ms. And so I've seen that too. I'm realizing where it might be, you know, Mr. Ryan, but you know, for me, it's like, Really? I don't know if I'm supposed to call her Ms. Walker or Mrs. Walker. So I'm just gonna call her Kate. And I think that Yeah, there's, there's so much you could I mean, that it's the longest chapter in the book, I think is my, my chapter about names. And at one point, I was like, I think I could write a whole book about this. It's really incredible. When you dig in all those little kind of micro aggressions that that occur and names?

John Ryan 20:47
Totally, you're nailing or they're microaggressions. It is it's subtle, but it's felt it's experienced there. And names or identity. Like this is like the core of who we are. Yeah. Yes, please write that book. we'll have you back.

Kate Eberle Walker 21:01
I mean, you must get do people call you Ryan. Like, hey, do you have the first name last name? First name all?

John Ryan 21:07
Yeah, first names? Yep.

Kate Eberle Walker 21:08
And it's grating, right. Like when you're like, I My name is not Ryan is john. Like, I think that, you know, it's like pay attention. I think there's Yeah, there's, there's a lot to it.

John Ryan 21:19
What does a an organization look like? With good bosses? Like, if you had organizations, all good bosses? Like, what does that actually look like?

Kate Eberle Walker 21:28
If you had an organization full of good bosses, I think that you would get, first of all, so much more work done. Because you wouldn't have to spend so much time navigating these things, thinking about these, these thinking about how you say what you say, I think that you would just, you know, be incredibly productive. For one, I also think you'd, you'd have really happy employees, because everyone would be themselves. You know, I think that when I think of my most fun work experiences over my career, it's when I really had authentic friendships. And you know, you, when people know you, they really know you, and they respect you for who you are. You have more fun together, you trust each other more. And, you know, it's really the those are the places where, you know, on a Friday evening, you're maybe I'll get to hang out and go get a drink together, instead of, you know, rushing to finish your last meeting and get back to your outside lives. I think there is, you know, people have different views about about this sort of blending of social and work. Like I personally, I'm a big believer that they have to be blended, I mean, you have to be the whole person that you are in the workplace. And I think if you if you had a company full of good bosses that would come through, everybody would really genuinely know each other and like each other.

John Ryan 22:55
And that takes some work. It does take some intention. Yeah, speaking of work, what are some first steps you'd recommend to leaders in general, who are wanting to become better bosses, and to specifically support women in their organization.

Kate Eberle Walker 23:09
So I think that the best place to start is by being authentic yourself. Like really, you know, being opening up more really talking about yourself, your you know, your weaknesses, your vulnerabilities, just your your life, who you are inside and outside of work, I think that it starts there. I think if you're more open and again, always remembering as a leader, like you have more power, you set the tone, to some degree. So I always recommend to start there to start by, you know, being being more open about yourself and people, you'll find people then will come forward more and they'll they'll approach you and they'll feel like they can, you know, talk to you about whatever is on their minds. If if you take the first step.

John Ryan 23:58
Fantastic. This might be a different direction. But can you share with us a little bit like what's it really like for moms when they're returning back to work after having children? I don't know if I've ever heard that explored before or talking about I would love to see if you might share some insights on that.

Kate Eberle Walker 24:13
Yeah, coming coming back to work after after having any baby but especially after your first it's it's very surreal. I mean, you like the first for me, but for a lot of women that I've spoken to you those first three months of being a mom and having this baby, you are like really immersed in caring for that newborn. And, you know, you kind of lose a bit of your self and your identity and especially your professional identity. If you're if you're on leave that whole time and so the the day you come back the first weeks that you're back, you're reorienting to, you know, to who you were, you're reconciling who you were with who you are and you know there's there's a A lot going on in your in your head about that, and there's a lot of conflict, you feel very pulled back to this baby who is at home and needs you and you, you know, and you want to you want to be there and care for them.

Kate Eberle Walker 25:14
But you also feel this really kind of excitement, this rush and getting to be an independent person again, for the first time in a few months and getting to, you know, add value in society in different ways. I mean, there's, you know, it's, you know, yeah, I've joked about this, a lot of women, I mean, you literally you're excited then that first week back in the office that like you can go to the bathroom whenever you want to, like you're not on somebody else's schedule. So you're feeling this pull back and forth. And I think that what happens to a lot of women is the pull feels stronger from home than from work and and you know, I write about this in the book that there are really critical ways that a boss Can you know, help or harm in that first day back this first weeks back, you know, if you leave a woman on her return from leave, to, to her own devices to kind of re carve out a space for herself to figure out what work is needed, you know, what, what have other people been covering? What does she need to take back, if you leave her to her own devices to kind of make herself useful again, she's not going to feel as strong of a pull from, you know, from the office as she is from the home. Whereas if you really immerse her right back into it, like, I'm so glad you're back refund, you know, waiting for you, we really need you to pick up these things at you, if you sort of help her jump right back in, then then it'll equalize, and it'll help her find her balance, because it's always a balance. I mean, you know, I'm, my older daughter is now 12. So I've been, you know, figuring out working motherhood for over a decade now. And it is still it's a little bit of a seesaw. And yeah, there are many moments where you have to find your balance, but you know, you definitely need to, and want to feel the pull in both directions.

John Ryan 27:03
So bringing them in embracing them, getting them back to work and showing appreciation and validation, like, wow, we're so great to have you back and help them feel included, I imagine as part of that, too. And it doesn't right in the head. And because because their head is gonna be pulled emotionally, psychologically, all those things biologically as well back to their child. And yeah, that's important thing.

Kate Eberle Walker 27:23
Yeah, it's gonna say they need to feel needed, they need to feel needed and necessary. in the workplace. That's, you know, that's something that I, you know, I remember in my first week back, feeling almost the opposite, like, you feel this panic, like, Oh, they figured out how to get by without me for 12 weeks. So, you know, now, maybe I'm not needed here anymore. And, you know, I think that can be the beginning of the decisions that some women end up making to leave the workforce after that first baby, you know, it's it's, it's not typically that, you know, a woman goes on leave and doesn't come back the, you know, the statistics show that the departures from the workforce happen, happen later, you know, sometime in that first year of coming back to the workplace. And I think it's about this question of, do you feel needed? Do you feel important at work? If you don't? Well, you certainly feel needed and important somewhere else?

John Ryan 28:17
Hmm. Love that going back to identity, filling needed feeling wanted all those types of things. I love that. Thank you for sharing that insight. What, when when women come back to work, and they want to feel needed, of course, they want to be part of the team and feel valued and that sense, if they're not getting the support, if they're not getting that it could not just be just about coming back from the workforce, but just in general for not getting the support they need? How do you recommend they approach leadership and managers to try to get the support they're actually looking for in their job?

Kate Eberle Walker 28:48
I think that, you know, one thing that I always recommend is to be very clear, that you want more work, that you know, that you that you're ready and able to take on more. I just had a conversation with with a woman who works for me now who who's pregnant. And she said to me, you know, totally proactively. Well, I just I want you to know that. I'm definitely coming back. And you know, and I said, I want you to know that I had no doubt that you were I assumed that you are, but I think it's great when you know, you say that don't don't leave anybody wondering or guessing be very clear. Yeah, I want to be here. And if you come back, and you're, you know, you're flailing a little bit, and you're not finding your place again, in the organization, I think asking for more work is, you know, from from the woman's perspective, the best way to do it, right, like that's, you know, you're not, you know, criticizing others or saying, Yeah, it's, it's a much more targeted, you know, give me a good project. Give me something to work on. I need more That's very actionable. It's a very actionable request. And I think that that's then also at the heart of what, you know, what your managers what your bosses should be doing. It's, it's a little counterintuitive for some people, I think that where things can go wrong is managers feel like they're supposed to be sensitive, and they're supposed to recognize that, you know, you, you've been out, you're a new mom, maybe you, you know, maybe you need to ease into things, maybe you need some time. And I always say, like, maybe but let her let her tell you that if if you know if it's too much, and that's what she needs otherwise, I think it's generally always better to assume that she you know, she wants to do it.

John Ryan 30:43
Is that a conversation that a manager needs to have them? Would you recommend, say, Hey, listen, tell me what you need? Are you ready to jump in? Do you want to ease in? Or what's the approach that's best for you right now? Is that a respectful way to go?

Kate Eberle Walker 30:54
I think that's great to have that direct conversation. Yeah, yeah, I'd probably, you know, I'd probably want to lean it towards like I, you know, I'm so ready for you to come back. I've got you know, I've got 10 things waiting for you. How are you feeling? Do you want all of them at once? Or, you know, do you do you want to phase it in? I'm fine either way. But you know, always let them know that, you know, you've got to be there. There's a lot for them to do here. So but but I like the idea of having that direct conversation of Yeah, we're asking, asking, How much do you want? You know, what, and what do you need from me?

John Ryan 31:31
Well, love that distinction just made because I was looking at it from an ambivalent either way. But you're saying no, bring that pressure in, because they have the pressure of the the family life, bringing that pressure in, you can still be okay either way, but bring that pressure into let them know that they're needed validated and a huge part of the team?

Kate Eberle Walker 31:48
Definitely, definitely. And also, you know, know that it's in her head, maybe it always wasn't mine that you don't Yeah, when someone says do you do you need more time or you don't have to go on that trip, if you don't want to? You hear it, as you know, they don't think I'm as good as I used to be, or I'm not as good of a worker as that guy over there. So it even though it's not intended to send that message, it's, it's intended to be considerate. It can, you know, have that effect of making her feel like oh, I'm not perceived to be as much of a go getter, as I used to be.

John Ryan 32:29
The nuance of language, it is unbelievably awesome and ever changing. It's fantastic. Obviously, hear it. Key conversations, we think, like we're talking about having these types of conversations is really critical. It's key. What are some key conversations that you've had in your life, either personally or professionally, that have, you know, significantly impacted you and where you are today?

Kate Eberle Walker 32:49
I love that question. So, so a couple years ago, I had this conversation that I think it changed me a lot. And it was new, I was still relatively new to running presents learning. And a woman who works who worked, who still works at the company, came to me and you I'd only met her once briefly, I didn't know her very well. And you know, she, she asked for time to talk with me. And she said that she had been reading some of my writing, where I had talked about, you know, my own battles with speaking up and being heard and asserting myself more, and you're feeling like I was a part of conversations. And so she said, You know, I read that, and I really connected with it. And I thought, you'd want to know that I connected with it, because that's how I'm made to feel right here at presence learning. And so it was, you know, this moment for me, where I recognized a couple of things.

Kate Eberle Walker 33:52
Number one, you know, again, back to that importance of being vulnerable, like if I hadn't been open and shared about my struggles, you know, I don't think she ever would have felt comfortable coming to me, and telling me how she was feeling at this company that I was running. And so you know, you're always you always, as a leader, like you, you need to know what's really going on. And for that you've got to be trusted, and you've got to be, you know, accessible for people to really tell you the truth. And so, it was your recognition of like, okay, it's really important to be to be very honest myself so that people do feel like they can trust me, they can come to you. So that was one thing, but the bigger thing was, I just realized, you know, you can, as a leader, you can say the right things about how you want your company to be and how you want people to act. But that doesn't mean it's happening everywhere you have to in to make sure that it is you've got to be listening, asking, you know, getting involved and interacting and you've got to jump in and you know, in that in that case,

Kate Eberle Walker 35:00
You know, it led to me getting more involved in areas that I wouldn't have otherwise known needed to change in terms of the culture. And, you know, the way that we were having conversations and interacting and the way that we were giving opportunities for career development. So it's just, it's always, you know, made a huge difference in how I, you know, managed the company that I'm in, and that I'm still leading. But it also just has really stuck with me that, you know, it's not enough to give speeches and say, you know, what kind of leaders you want people to be, you've got to actually get in there and make sure that that people are connecting that to the day to day actions that they're taking.

John Ryan 35:41
I love that. Thank you for circling all the way back to the importance of authenticity, and having Congrats, it's wonderful. Kate, thanks so much for being here. It's been an incredible pleasure. What's the best way for our listeners and viewers to get in touch with you? And of course, you have to find the good boss.

Kate Eberle Walker 35:56
Yeah, so so my website is so you can get in touch with me that way, you can get lots of information about the book. And, of course, the book itself is on sale in your favorite booksellers everywhere. So I'd love for everyone to pick up a copy and then reach out to me through the website and tell me what you think about it.

John Ryan 36:18
Wonderful. Thanks so much for being here.

Kate Eberle Walker 36:20
Thank you so much.

John Ryan 36:21
And thank you all for watching and listening. Until next time, develop yourself, empower others and lead by example. Thanks for listening to key conversations for leaders with your host John Ryan. If you enjoyed the show, please let us know. Give us a rating or write a review. And if you'd like to connect with me and other like minded leaders, I invite you to join our Facebook group called Develop, Empower and Lead where I deliver free live training every week. If you go to It will redirect you right there. Hope to see you there soon.

John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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