This is the second interview in our two-part Q&A with Jennifer Morilla, CEO of Jen Morilla LLC. Morilla will be a keynote speaker at our ASUG Best Practices: SAP for Midmarket conference later this year. In this Q&A, Morilla describes the themes in her keynote address, including the importance of personal and corporate values, as well as the challenges of cross-organization KPI, goal communications, and alignment.

Q: How do leaders inspire? What do teams and leaders need to avoid so they can become their most inspirational selves?

A: Inspiration comes from within the leader. Being a leader isn’t an easy role. I don’t want to say you need to be on a high all the time. But you do need to own the room, right? You walk into a room and the way you feel puts mood into the room for the rest of the team. And that’s very important to recognize in your responsibility as a leader—how you show up is how the rest of your team is going to play.

Additionally, are you giving space? Are you allowing creativity? Are you supporting that?

There are days when I show up for my team and I’m just mad. I’ve got a lot going on in my life and they recognize that. I think about stepping away from the ego and I recognize that this is going to be a little harder for me today. Especially during times like this, because we’re remote, we’re with our families on a day-to-day basis. I think that boundaries have been tested. Just recognizing and remembering that as a leader, the way you show up for your team is the way the rest of the team will play.

Q: Given variability in terms of work, work styles, work locations, etc., what should leaders respond to, and do, to inspire that healthy work-life balance?

A: The biggest thing that companies have taken away from this whole [pandemic] is that their employees are still productive, if not even more proactive and productive. People have gotten so used to working remotely that they’re probably doing an even better job.

So now, you may be telling employees, you get to be remote, or, if you want, you get to come into the office. The plus side to going into an office once a week is for community. Whether you’re single or married, whether you have children or not—working from home has taken a mental toll on people.

I think having the ability to go into the office and finally meet some of your coworkers can be beneficial. Have conversations, maybe have lunch, or go to happy hours or similar. Social events bring more community and inclusivity into the company. Maybe having a buddy system or something like that would be good. Again, that goes back to creating some type of community.

Q: What will you note in your keynote in terms of metrics?

A: Sometimes it’s a struggle to establish metrics and conversations around metrics. And people sometimes get intimidated by metrics, systems, performance measurement, etc. When I’m referring to metrics, I’m specifically referring to KPIs that are relevant not just to the values and goals of the corporation, but also within each department. For instance, when talking about social media marketing, what are the goals they want to accomplish for that quarter? Are they trying to gain more followers, and/or more brand awareness? How about more ad spend? What does that look like, as a collective? Then, individually, who’s managing what?

I think KPIs need to be discussed within each team. I don’t think one leader should stand at the podium and say, “I want this, this, and this, and this, this quarter.” In a perfect world, upper management has a conversation with middle management. Then middle management has a conversation down the line about goals and values; then they discuss best practices.

Making goals that are actually feasible—not having outrageous goals—and then communicating between all departments so everybody understands what the goals are. Everybody has to communicate. I think that’s one of the biggest things with major corporations: nobody communicates. Marketing only talks to marketing. Sales only talks to sales. All departments should be hanging out, having a conversation.

Q: If there’s one point that you want everyone to know, love, and leave with from your keynote, what is it?

A: The importance of personal values, self-leadership, and discipline; these drive performance not only individually, but also on a corporate level. I want people to recognize that they aren’t just a number on a roster, a number on a payroll. You are a human being. And you’re there for a specific reason. We need your role. People need to understand that they’re valued as much as the company is valued. Values, self-leadership, and discipline drive performance.

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