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Leadership Spotlight: Facilitating Empowered Teams

In this episode, we chat with Dustin DeVries, the Co-Founder of Caffeine Interactive Technologies, about how leaders co-create success with their teams through EI-Q and strong communication.


Dustin is proud to work with some of the most talented business analysts and developers in the industry. He is a solopreneur and has grown his company based on a 100% remote team which has been thriving for the last eight years.


Communicating with Intention


Dustin DeVries: From a culture perspective, you know, I think we try to really over communicate on things to be very transparent. We have a lot of activities that go on, you know, on Slack, for example, it is our primary method of communication. We have, like, you know, photo Thursday. We all contribute and jump in and share photos of things we're doing to learn more about each other, and like find out that we have team members who are big into hiking or running or whatever the case may be, and find out some things about their life that we wouldn't otherwise just in a virtual workspace like Slack and just communicating about work all the time. So there are some things we do that I would say, try to be intentional about.


Leading with Transparency


Dustin DeVries: I'll just be completely transparent on this. I've had some candid conversations with members of my team about the performance, about the expectations and we set up OKRs and things like that. This concern on their parts, like, well, I know I'm not hitting what I need to and I'm doing all these different things and I'm nervous for my job. And the fact that we have a culture that allows an employee to make those kinds of comments. It's awesome. Right? Because I'm reassured, I'm like, here's what I think we do need to improve this. I recognize it's not all on you, it's on me because I'm helping with a lot of strategy. You're a marketing expert, but you don't understand all the ins and outs of everything we do. You're not a software developer. So I've got to draw that connection there so there's a response on my side and also just reassuring them that we're going to work through this, there's a process and I'll be transparent with you. If I feel like things are in jeopardy, I'm not going to blindside you with anything. Right. And I think that makes people feel that better.


Maintaining Self-awareness


Dustin DeVries: The things that I do well I always want to be checking myself to make sure I still do them well. We get over confident and we start making mistakes. We get sloppy. But on the flip side of the things we don't do well, that doesn't mean well, I can't you know, like I used to say, I used to make this excuse all the time. I’m the primary person running sales within our company. So when it comes to sales calls and things like that, I thought to myself, I'm not good at sales. I'm a computer programmer by trade. I would use this as my cop out. I don't have to do marketing sales well. I can't do marketing sales. It's just that it may not come naturally. So I have to train myself more. I have to be more intentional and empathetic about things. You find yourself constantly, like, thinking, wow, I completely ignore the fact that this team member had, like, a family crisis. I didn't even really say anything to them other than, you improve your PTO and maybe I should have done more. Well, that's when you start setting up systems and processes to try to account for those blind spots.


Identifying and Overcoming Blind Spots


Ange Maccabe: You know, we can't utilize our blind spots as crutches or weaknesses as crutches. We need to put an SOP or system in place. Where my head goes is more to the human side of things and I like how you're thinking about this but injecting also what resources are you utilizing to ensure that you're understanding your blind spots and therefore being able to move to action? So things like different types of training that's available online or in person or a coach specifically can help you go from that knowledge-to action place and can be kind of your champion when it comes to your blind spots. So I can really appreciate where you're thinking from a place of a growth mindset. So everything is solvable especially when it comes to emotional intelligence pieces or our soft skills. And so what are we doing? A to understand them within ourselves and then b what are we going to do by way of actions to drive it?


If you're interested in learning more from our Spotlight Leaders check Dianna Butler’s Leadership Spotlight on: Difficult Conversations


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