Episode 9: Leaders with Heart Know That They Must Connect With Their People Consistently To Be Trusted

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Leaders in and out of Human Resources are concerned about communicating the truth, or any form of the truth, because they partly think that their people can’t handle it, or they’re really fearful of how people might perceive it.

While I don’t think you have to tell every angle of a story, I do think that it’s important to be as transparent as you can, depending on the circumstances, and as frequently as you can.

Today on the podcast we have Tom Dietzler, Director of Operations at St. Peter Lutheran Church and School.

I am currently Director of Operations for our church. I manage the building and grounds here, so the custodians report to me, as does the office staff. I manage about 12 people. I am also responsible for recruiting volunteers for some of the activities here.

Our church is 150 years old this year, has about 2,000 members, 2 campuses, 45-50 people employed, and a budget of $2.5 million. Our school has 5 year old kindergarten to eighth grade enrollment of 220 kids, and 60 more in 3 and 4 year old early childhood ministry.

I prepare the annual budget that decides how and where money will be spent for the coming fiscal year. I have been here almost three years. I have been a member here for more than 35 years, and was actively involved in multiple leadership positions before taking on my current role. I readily tell people that my skill set is very wide, but not very deep.

I can tell you a little about a lot of things, probably not a great deal about any one particular thing. I make sure that I take time every day to interact with nearly everyone that is a part of my team. I try to take time for individual one-on-one meetings periodically. One of my bosses at the mill had a mantra “If you ignore something long enough, it will eventually go away.” I tell myself that every day, as a reminder of the kind of leader that I don’t want to be – I try not to ignore things, or put things off or delay them for so long that it could be interpreted as ignoring it. I love that people here are here because they love this work, they love our church and school and the people that we serve.

In this episode, we talk about empathy, how constant communication builds trust and being present for your people.

Click the play button below to listen to the rest of the episode!

Tom’s Leadership Journey

Tom had so many different bosses, and that was very pivotal in his journey. He learned so much about what he didn’t want to be as a leader as much as how he wanted to be as a leader.

“I had a great boss at one point who was a very serious and straightforward guy. He let you know what his expectations were and he didn’t mess with you unless you came to him with a problem or an issue, or if he thought you needed some course correction.

He was very blunt, and there was very little mystery to me. When you know what’s expected of you, when you know what you’re supposed to be doing, that’s a huge issue for some people because a lot of people will spend a lot of time wondering, “Should I really? What do you think?”


Another boss said to me, “If you ignore something long enough, eventually it will go away.” And he said that so often.

I can’t believe somebody would actually do that as their mantra. I walk this whole building trying to interact with everybody every day, even though most of the people here don’t report to me.”

You can’t know everything, but you can become familiar with enough things that you’re not hopelessly confused when issues arise. Click To TweetWe can’t very well meet anyone’s needs if we don’t know the people that look up to us. Click To Tweet

Communicate your truth

If you don’t have that day-to-day communication and contact with people, they will think that you’re not accessible. This opens the door to rumors and conjectures – a lot of the time that happens because there’s a vacuum in communication.

If you are not communicating, some information is going to fill that vacuum, and that’s going to be their truth because you are not in front of them to build a different form of truth on that.

A narrative will emerge one way or another, whether it’s true or false. If you’re not putting what you want to be known out there, or what is actually the truth, something will take its place. Click To Tweet

It doesn’t feel good to be #2 or #3

Back when Tom was just starting out in his current job, he always had his door open so people would come in often. He started off by making a to-do list of all the things that he wanted to accomplish right away.

“A prominent member here…had a way of standing in [my] doorway and [he would just] go on and on and on.

A couple of times I tried going down on the keyboard like I’m working. Later on, he really roasted me because he said I was trying like I was so important that I didn’t have time to talk to him.

Since then – I’m not 100% at it, but I’m getting much better – the first thing I do is to close the laptop when somebody walks in.”

There’s nothing worse than to treat someone like they’re 2nd or 3rd or 4th priority when they’re immediately in front of you like that. Click To TweetMaking people feel really important is key. Click To Tweet



Connect with Tom on LinkedIn

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