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Reimagining Leadership in a Hybrid World, with L. David Kingsley

Leadership has undergone a monumental transformation over the last few years. With the proliferation of hybrid work and a growing awareness and appreciation of the need for flexibility, it’s drastically altered how employees want leaders to show up for them. The why has become so important, particularly around where and how we work. It’s not enough to just simply demand compliance and enact arbitrary rules – leadership must evolve to cater for a new way of working, one which values trust, collaboration, and common sense!


We had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Intercom’s CPO, L. David Kingsley, about this very topic during our recent SocialTalent Live webinar. As part of a self-described “geographically neutral company,” that has always operated across time zones, countries, and cultures, David is constantly looking at how the flexible workplace can continue to iterate and how leadership plays a vital role in this development.


  • [0.34]: Introduction
  • [4.33]: Flexibility at Intercom
  • [8.01]: Policies around hybrid work
  • [14.02]: Leadership’s changing role
  • [19.06]: How do we get work done in a flexible workplace
  • [23.08]: The positive impact of flexible work
  • [26.46]: Earning trust in a hybrid world

Key takeaways:

1. The evolving role of leadership

The entire workplace has undergone enormous shifts in the last few years, and as a result, so has leadership. David likes to describe these phases of development as software updates.1.0 was pre-pandemic, where leaders had particular tried and tested plays they ran in terms of how they guided teams. Then 2.0 was the immediate time during the onset of COVID; this scramble to remote work forced leaders to develop a whole new set of skills and capabilities almost on the fly, iterating how management could happen when we weren’t all in the same room. And 3.0 is now, where hybrid work is requiring leaders to hone a different set of skills again. It’s going to take time and dedication to get comfortable with this new approach, but flexibility isn’t going anywhere!

2. Flexibility isn’t an easy thing to get right

Like with any change, flexible work will require your organization to be open to making mistakes, learning from these, and not shy away from the process. “We talk at Intercom about starting with a cupcake,” David tells us, “We don’t bake a full cake all at one time. We start with a cupcake, a representation of what the thing could be, and we learn and we iterate.” And when it comes to flexibility, it’s the leaders who create a pull and a reason for certain ways of working that have the most success. It’s not about being prescriptive. It’s about trying and assessing – giving your people the data and choice to create an organic work experience that provides the best results.

3. How to earn trust

One of the most pervasive challenges for hybrid and remote work often comes down to trust. Before, employees were under a rather physical lens by spending all their hours in an office. But this pivot has seen a shift and an unease for some leaders who struggle in this new mould. So how can you overcome this, build trust, and move to a relationship that is more outcome orientated? According to David, “this is not about a culture of presenteeism. This is about creating a culture of impact and delivery.” Trust is earned and not given – leaders must show up for their teams in a transparent and authentic way. They have to roll their sleeves up and demonstrate that they understand what their direct reports need and also understand the work that is happening. Root yourself in service and drive value for your teams and the company as a whole.



Johnny Campbell:

So, welcome to this fireside chat where we’re going to be digging into the topic of workplace flexibility and what this looks like in 2023. One thing’s for sure, flexibility has clearly come to mean a lot more than just where we work. So I’m delighted to introduce L. David Kingsley as our guest for this discussion today. David is the Chief People Officer for Intercom. David, so happy to speak with you, particularly about this important topic. I was wondering if you’d like to quickly introduce yourself to our audience about where you’re coming from, where you’re joining us from, and maybe a little bit Intercom for those of our viewers who haven’t heard about the company before.

L. David Kingsley:

Well, hey Johnny, how you doing? It’s great to be here with you. And hello to everyone who’s tuning in for this all around the world. It’s great to be here and part of the conversation. I’ll introduce myself first with my most important job. Again, my name is L. David Kingsley. I go by David. My pronouns are he/him and my number one most important job is spouse and partner to my wife Erin, and father to Jack and Kate and Maddie. A couple of them are over my shoulder. Maddie’s a new addition. So Jack is four, Kate is three, and Maddie just about seven months. So a new newish dad, still learning the ropes. That’s my number one most important job. At the same time, the job that makes me so excited to do every day is the Chief People Officer of Intercom. Johnny, as you said, we are the leading customer service platform for internet businesses.

And we use the power of automation and human support in a cohesive platform that enables conversational and omnichannel service across proactive and reactive engagements with the power of ChatGPT. What that means in practical terms, if you go to the bottom of a website, you see a little smile there, you click on that, you start talking with a business – most of the time that’s our technology, and we’re so excited to be in that space, powering customer service that all of us use every day that we are all customers. And so that’s my day job. Super excited to be part of Intercom and great to be part of the dialogue. Johnny, you and I met a couple weeks ago in Dublin at a talent summit, which was a fantastic engagement, and excited to continue the conversation in a more directed vein here on the topic of virtual and hybrid work in this new world that we’re in.

Johnny Campbell:

Tell me, David, for context, Intercom as a business, roughly how many employees, what kind of countries or cities are you in, and what’s the kind of skill makeup of the organization?

L. David Kingsley:

Yeah, for sure. We’re about 850 employees globally. Our largest single office is in Dublin. Our headquarters is actually in San Francisco, and then we have offices in London, in Sydney, and Chicago in addition to those other cities. So a truly global organization operating across multiple time zones like so many businesses around the world today. A lot of our colleagues tuned in right now are probably nodding and going, “Yeah, I’ve got that also.” So founded by a group of Irish individuals as a US company about 11 years ago, and have gone through some fantastic evolutions as we’ve gotten to where we are today, always rooted in the core of helping our customers connect with their customers and deliver a really human experience.

The company was actually founded in a coffee shop in Dublin, and the founding team was reflecting on this personal relationship that the owner of the coffee shop had with his customers. Everything from knowing not only their coffee order of course, but knowing about them personally, and then thinking about the criticality of that and all of us in business of how do we create those really personal, authentic interactions with everyone we work with, especially our customers?

Johnny Campbell:

One of the first ever training courses I ever delivered for SocialTalent, David back in the day, was on how to write great job ads and it featured an ad that Intercom had published when the business was maybe around five people, and he made this beautiful visual ad that just was so different to everything else, and we used it as an example of how you can use visual job specs or job ads to attract talent. So we used a ton of great Intercom examples even in the talent world to try and teach folks back in the day. So yeah, all very, very proud to have Intercom as an Irish company out there headquartered in the US of course doing wonderful things. David, flexibility, right? So we’re coming up on the three year. We just passed the three-year anniversary when most organizations sent their colleagues home without real knowledge of when they’d be back. Talk to me about the Intercom story with regard to flexibility, perhaps pre-pandemic, and then how has the journey been the last three years?

L. David Kingsley:

Yeah, I think that if folks on the call are anything like me, when we went into the pandemic lockdown, it was kind of like, “Okay, it’ll be about a week, two weeks, we’ll be back in the office just like we always were.” It’s kind of like the equivalent of if you’re somewhere that gets a lot of snow, take a snow day where the kids all stay home from school or something. Well, obviously it turned out to be not two weeks, but two years plus of time. I think an advantage for us at Intercom is the fact that we’ve always been what I would call a geographically neutral company, whereby we’ve operated across time zones, across countries, across cultures throughout the entire history of the company. And so that was not a big scene change for us, because we have a couple of hours a day that our San Francisco office and our Dublin office overlap, and that’s just critical time for people to interact on important topics of work.

And so that was already part of our up tempo, if you will, in terms of how we operated business. At the same time, we had a lot of people who liked going into the office, and that had to change on a moment’s notice, and leaders had to start leading in different ways. And I think what that did was it called us all to think about how am I leading in a space where I can’t just pop around the cube or pop around the hall or the corridor in the office or even fly to another office, another location if I were to go to our Chicago office or our Sydney office? Couldn’t do that anymore. And so that called us all to exercise a different set of muscles, or even build a different set of muscles in how we not only connect with our teams but connect with each other as colleagues and then interact with our customers as well.

External customers. That was a whole different ballgame of not being able to get on a plane and close a deal. You’re going to do that over Zoom or over Google Meet, and that required just a really different skillset for everyone. So I think the first period was kind of the normal shock and adjustment, and then we moved into sort of a space where I think everybody got comfortable with that. Now we’re in sort of a different world.

So if we kind of think of that, Johnny in three phases of HR or people leadership, 1.0 was kind of pre-pandemic. We all had these plays that we ran and the way that we ran our businesses or guided our teams or the way we led or showed up. Then in the pandemic we developed these new skills or traits or capabilities, we’ll call that 2.0, and that happened for the better part of two plus years. And now we’re in this sort of 3.0 world, people leadership 3.0, where it is this hybrid environment that’s requiring an even different set of skills again as it did when went into the pandemic to start. So, I think it’s just calling all of us as people leaders, as HR leaders to pivot and evolve and hone our skills in new ways once again.

Johnny Campbell:

And so today in Intercom, how have you approached policies for example on flexibility? Do you have such policies? What do they look like? How do they come about? What are you seeing from the behaviors of your employee base? What are people preferring to do? What types of surprises have you seen in terms of flexibility, its benefits, perhaps it’s downsides as well. What are you learning? I hate to use the word policing it, but how are you guiding your colleagues to still work, still have some norms around how you collaborate, how you work together, perhaps how you work across those different time zones, that work still needs to get done. Can people come in on a Monday? Can they stay at home on a Monday? Do you have those rules in place or what does it look like in Intercom?

L. David Kingsley:

Yeah, I think we’ve always been an outcome focused culture, an outcome focused company. And so at the end of the day, the way people’s value is assessed inside Intercom is the fact that are you delivering on your commitments? Are you driving value for the company, for your colleagues internally if you’re in an internal role, or for our customers if you’re an external role? So that’s always going to be our watchword and that’s going to be our number one guiding principle is are you delivering on your commitments? Are you delivering value for your stakeholders? So that’s first and foremost. From a company-level perspective, what we’ve done is we’ve affirmed what I think has always been the case that your direct leader, your manager, your boss, is accountable for the productivity of your organization or you’re working in it. And they are both empowered and trusted to guide that in the best way that they know how to do that.

And so in some cases we have teams who have said, “Look, we’re going to be in the office, if you’re based locally in the given city, we’re going to be in the office two days a week or three days a week, or we’re all going to come together one day a week,” whatever it’s going to be leaders and managers are empowered to do that. And at the same time we’ve also focused on the importance of what we call moments that matter. This is not about a culture of presenteeism, this is about a culture of impact and delivery as I mentioned earlier. And so we’re asking folks when they’re coming into the office, are they doing that with purpose? And so an example of a team that has two days a week in the office maybe, they may say, “Look, we’re going to do all of our one-on-one meetings when we’re in person in the office, and then if we’re going to have an all hands meeting for the whole team, we’re going to do that on a day that is an in-office day for all of us.”

So even if you’re based in different cities, you’re all dialing into one all hands meeting. Most of the people are in an office. So that’s sort of two of the guiding principles. A, your boss is going to make the decisions and give you the guidance, and B, let’s make sure that these are moments that matter to you, coming in for things that give people the ability to connect in real ways for meaningful work, and at the same time respect that there’s some flexibility, agility. As I said earlier, I’ve got three little kids and they need to go to the doctor sometimes or things happen. And that may mean that I may need to be working from home a day when I normally would be in the office or I would’ve chosen to be in the office. And that’s okay making space for that. The other piece that we’ve been mindful of, and I give a lot of credit to my own team for making sure this is a prominent topic, is we do still have people who are 100% virtual.

They work in a truly geographically neutral way. Maybe they’re in a different state or location, or they’re just unable to make it into an office. They still have a critical role to play on the team in the company. And so for example, when we do an all hands meeting, our leaders, if you’re going to be on camera, if you’re going to be presenting and you’re in the office, you go to a separate room by yourself so you’re right on camera squared up, you have good audio that people who are at home or working remotely, they have an equal experience to the people who are in the office. So we’re trying to be mindful of that. Just because some folks can or do make it into an office doesn’t mean everybody does. And we want to make sure that everyone in the company is on equitable footing to grow and advance their career in terms of their employee experience.

So it’s taken a few of those learnings and tailorings, we’re not perfect. We make mistakes like every team and every organization does. And most importantly, we learn from those things. We talk at Intercom about we start with a cupcake. We don’t bake a full cake all at one time. We start with just a cupcake, a representation of what that thing could be, and then we learn and we iterate and we ship to learn. So we may roll something out and we say, “Oh, okay, that didn’t work quite exactly as we want it to. We’re going to try this.” And I think leaders and teams have done that too. You’ll have some leaders who’ve said, “Look, I want to do one day in the office.” And then they do a day in the office and they’re like, “Actually this is really working out well,” let’s add a second or a third day that’s going to work for our team.

What I’ve found is that teams that create that pull and people are drawn into an experience, that’s different than organizations and teams who create a push. To say, “Thou shalt come in X days a week or thou shalt show up on this day,” I think it’s much more around what value is here for you that you want to be a part of and that you want to be involved in? And I think that’s an important part that leaders can articulate and then show to their people. And what you’re going to find I think, is that people are going to not only come in their own volition, they’re going to find times when it organically works for them that they’re going to create small work groups and reconnect.

And I think that’s just getting back in touch with the core to our humanity, Johnny. It’s the fact that we’re human beings who want to gather. We want to share space as much as we can in person, in real time to collaborate, connect, celebrate, mourn losses when we have some that we learn from, that’s okay too. That’s a great part of learning on the growth journey. People want to come together, they want to spend time in the collective. And so we’re a company that’s going to have great spaces, workplaces for people to be able to do that and be able to do that going forward.

Johnny Campbell:

I love what you’re saying about the outcome orientation, but also the flexibility, the practicality around that flexibility. It’s down to common sense it sounds like within teams. You might have guidelines, you might principles, you might have preferences, but again, it’s not going to be so rigid that somebody’s forced to come into office on a day just for the sake of it. That’s not necessarily how other organizations and even tech organizations are seeing it this year in year three, so to speak, of this flexibility experiment. What do you hear from your peers in other industries? We talked in Dublin at the event about the tug of war between employees and sometimes the executives where there’s almost a standoff at the moment between some execs and their employees, where the executive demanding a certain amount of days in the week, which seem arbitrary without explanation, and the employees are resisting it. And you have this kind of standoff where nobody’s willing to budge, but no one’s also willing to push. Is that commonplace? Do you think people are leaning more towards that, more away from that? What’s your sense of what’s happening in other organizations?

L. David Kingsley:

Yeah, this is about two and a half years ago. I was talking to a leader that I worked with for a number of years and we were talking about all being in lockdown. And he was one of those leaders that wanted people in the office five days a week and this is a number of years ago. And we talked about it and I said, “How are you doing, right, we’re all virtual now and this is very different than what you had said you had always wanted.” And he said, “You know what I’ve really realized?” He said, “It wasn’t about the fact that I thought the team were more productive in the office.” He said, “What I’ve realized is it was actually about how having everyone in the office made me feel as a leader and I was a better leader having the energy of all of the team around me.”

And he said, “I’ve been really reflective on that,” which I think was great. I thought that was a fantastic moment for him just in his own leadership journey to acknowledge and recognize what was it about that that was valuable. And then he got real transparent with his team about that. He said, “What I’ve realized is this is energy that I need to guide and lead and serve this team.” And so what he did in that moment was found ways to keep that going, to recreate that energy, that buzz, even in a hybrid or that point virtual environment.

So I think that’s sort of the first and most important takeaway, is just for leaders to be mindful and thoughtful about what is the underpinning beneath their interest in having folks be in person? Now, in some cases it may be demonstrable evidence that says, “I know that our work group is more productive when we X.” And as long as that’s clear and can be articulated to the team, I think most people are really open to hearing that feedback and those ideas. For a leader to say, “I’ve looked at our business, I’ve been thoughtful about that, I’m accountable for our success, and here’s how I see the business and here’s how we’re working and delivering together.”

When we can show that to people, I think they’re going to hear that. I had another colleague once who used to say to me, “When you treat people like adults, they tend to respond in kind.” And I think that’s right. And even for those of us who are parents or play parenting roles, it’s rare that we get someone to do something by direction. Thou shalt X. It’s generally speaking when people understand the value or the benefits or they’re enticed towards something, that they’re going to behave in a certain way. And I think for us as leaders, if we believe that having in-office teams is important or partially hybrid teams is important, we should articulate that, and then set the clarity of the policy to say, “Here’s my thinking, here’s why I believe this, here’s what we’re going to do, and we’re all going to follow along with this.”

And I think that clarity level is really important. I don’t think leaders should shy away from that if that’s what they believe. They should guide their teams that way. If we’ve got team members who truly cannot come into an office or really have a block and be to do that, we also need to be good humans and take those things as they come, as it would with any other circumstance. I mean, it’s not all of a sudden that we’re going to have these light switch policies on or off. It is a bit of a dimmer switch. The lights are going to be brighter or dimmer, but it’s going to be somewhere on a spectrum. And most of us who are in people leadership roles acknowledge that that leadership is a gray area.

It’s not fully art nor fully science. It’s somewhere a little bit of both, and it takes that human touch. So I think that’s going to continue in organizations, and really again, articulating the value of why are we coming together, what do we want to accomplish? And then if something’s not working to say, “Wow, this isn’t enough time together.” Or actually, you know what I’m finding is a lot of people just showing up and checking a box and that doesn’t seem right either. And I’m seeing some feedback from that or I’m seeing some disengagement, so let’s evaluate that. I think leaders having an openness on both sides of that topic is really important.

Johnny Campbell:

We’ve kind of focused on where quite a bit in terms of flexibility from the perspective of where you work, being in the office, not in the office, being in your home, not your home, in a different state, different country. But often when we talk about flexibility, we forget the other areas of flexibility that folks perhaps might be craving and might help them. The flexibility about when to work, which I guess you touched on with the different time zones of Intercom from day one led to probably a culture where you were less about one time zone being central, and more about just being considerate of your colleagues being a different time zone. You have the whole idea of what to work on and even who to work with, being more outcome focused.

Has the business explored more of those elements of flexibility? And if so, how does that work? For example, more asynchronous working, more deliberate, intentional, asynchronous working. How about even the extremes of which you may have seen, GitLabs kind of quite public documentation that they put out there on how you need to really describe how people have to work to make this work properly so you have kind of clear rules, but guidelines around communication. When should you have a meeting? When should you not have the meeting being considerate of time zones? So how much beyond where has Intercom explored from flexibility point of view?

L. David Kingsley:

I think the first place that we’ve gone is making it discussable to say, “When you’re working on a work product, what is the nature of the work that’s required in order to accomplish this task?” And to be really thoughtful about that. And sometimes it requires asynchronous work and collaboration where it’s a handoff and then someone else picks it up. And sometimes you truly do need to be in real time, whether it’s on a video format or an audio format or live in person. And so I think being very thoughtful about that has been the first step of saying, “When we’re working on a work product, let’s be really clear and prescriptive about the way that we’re going to accomplish this work together.” Versus have it just kind of unfold and then get to the end and go, “Huh, that took longer than I thought it was going to.”

Or, “I don’t think we have quite the right outcome. And I think if we had done it this way, we would’ve been better.” So we’re taking a moment, a pause at the beginning of that, whether it’s an entire initiative or a work stream or even just a deliverable to talk about how the work is going to get done. I think that’s number one, make that discussable. And then number two, and this is much more on the human side, you may have seen some people starting to put in the signature line on their emails, that you may receive this email outside of your normal working hours because of the schedule that I keep or the times zone that I’m in. This is in no way an encumbrance on you to work on this outside of your normal working hours. And just truly to make that acceptable and permissible that it says, “I’m not asking just because you got this at five o’clock on a Saturday afternoon that you need to pick it up at 5:03 on a Saturday afternoon.”

And I think that as leaders, we all maybe have had that effect on our people without knowing it. And this is nothing to do with Covid or hybrid or whatever. It’s just normal work that I may have a moment when the kids are napping on the weekend where I can tuck in the odd response to an email. While at the same time it may be Monday morning and I’ve got to help out with school drop off or something like that. I may be offline when someone else is online. So just leaders making that discussable and okay to have that conversation is the other part of it. So I think it’s twofold. It’s one, being prescriptive about the work practices, as I said. Is it going to be asynchronous, realtime video, audio or realtime in person? And then also making it discussable of how people are going to get their work done and be okay that it’s going to happen in different ways at different times across the organization and across teams and across individuals.

Johnny Campbell:

You reminded me of my own experiences. I would find time of an evening or a weekend to just kind reply to stuff, to slacks, to emails and I’d bang out the replies. And it was wasn’t until the pandemic when I realized this might inversely be driving a culture where people expect that they’re going to receive stuff from me in the evening or the weekend and they have to respond. And I found that the technology has evolved. You can schedule a slack, you can schedule your emails so much easier these days with extra tools. And being mindful of those things as well as a leader to say, “Maybe just one extra click to not even send it.” Even notwithstanding the signature you could put on it to say, “Just don’t send it, you can send it on Monday morning or whatever time zone, et cetera.” It’s hard though on leaders. Often when we have a discussion about the negative cultures or negative approaches to flexibility, managers who insist you’ll be in the office four or five days a week, et cetera, et cetera. Managers get a hard time.

And to your point, you mentioned a colleague or a friend I think who was quite self-aware about their needs to have people in the office. That’s unusual. Most managers perhaps don’t I’d argue have that self-awareness. So what have you seen that’s worked to help managers progress? Because just because someone is against flexible working doesn’t mean they’re a bad manager. It might be just they have no idea how else to manage beyond what they’re used to. There could be a lot of fear around their own skills, big skills gaps, knowledge gaps that they have. What’s worked from either an Intercom perspective or other organizations you’ve seen to bridge those gaps to bring more folks to the side of flexibility can be a positive thing?

L. David Kingsley:

Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think it’s twofold. The first is just an acknowledgement that during the pandemic a bit we were scrambling. If I can just be so candid, as people, organizations, as HR professionals, we were scrambling on how do we teach and train our leaders in near real time to lead in a new and different way? And I don’t think there’s an HR leader out there who says, “Oh, I totally nailed that. I got that perfectly.” But I think a lot of us made some really good progress there, whereby leaders became much more aware of their own leadership style in what was then a virtual world and is now a hybrid world. So I think that we started that process sort of two years ago. So I think we’ve made good progress, not perfection, but made good progress there already. And I think that the first step of that still is the training and learning environments and enablement activities that many of us and the people orgs are going to offer to our managers to talk about your own leadership style, to be reflective, to get feedback about it.

So the importance of 360 feedback, to understand how is it that you are leading, and then having training opportunities and learning opportunities, whether it’s snackable bite-size things or proper courses that are being taken, whether it’s an hour or a day or even a couple days to hone your leadership skills. I think that’s the first is let’s make sure we keep investing in those things in our people. Let’s not fall into what I’ll sometimes call crock pot management, which is set it and forget it, where you just turn the stew on in the morning and come home in the evening and there’s your meal. That doesn’t work that way for leadership. And so we need to make sure we’re not falling prey to that. So that’s the first part. The second part then is to allow and enable and engage our employees to give feedback to their leaders about what they need, how it’s working for them, and really make that a discussable environment to say, “For me to accomplish this outcome that I’m trying to deliver for this work group or this team or this company, here’s what I need as a worker.”

And we know that it all starts with purpose. The research tells us that that’s why people join companies, stay with companies and are doing the best work of their careers when they feel oriented and aligned toward the purpose and the mission of the company. So starting with that about what are we all trying to accomplish? And then getting into the how. So Simon Sinek would tell us, “Start with the why.” So start with the why, then go to the how and the what and all the rest of the Ws to get into how the work happens and where and when the work happens.

So I think regrounding ourselves in that about what’s the purpose of the work group? How’s the leader guiding that, giving them the training and feedback and support they need to be self-reflective to get input on how they’re doing? And then to tailor their approaches. If they’re getting feedback that the work group is not responding to their model of managing and leading, then let’s give them the space to be able to pivot and evolve that and give them the support to do that. Knowing that none of us is ever going to be perfect as a leader. We’ve got to take that feedback from our teams. And I think setting up cultures and organizations that do that is super critical.

Johnny Campbell:

Last point I want to come onto before we conclude, David, ’cause I think it’s critical to all of this. You mentioned having that outcome orientation. You mentioned that folks need to be able to share their needs. You talked about email signatures that say, “You don’t have to respond.” None of that works unless there’s trust. Trust that the employees believe what they’re hearing from leadership that, “Well if I don’t reply on a Saturday, will it be okay?” And likewise that when a manager says, “Have you got this.” And their employee says, “Yeah, I got this,” that there’s trust that that is happening, even though I’m not going to monitor your days and times. What are to you some of the key ingredients of building trust in the culture from a manager perspective?

L. David Kingsley:

Mm-hmm. I think the first is acknowledging that trust is earned and not given. None of us get trust just because we’re in a position of authority. I was a Reservist in the US Navy Reserves for about eight years. And even in the military, the number of times that someone says, “That’s a direct order.” It just really doesn’t happen. It’s all about how are you leading in a way that inspires trust in your team, that demonstrates that you as a leader, as a manager are willing to roll your sleeves up and pitch in with the work, to be truly part of the work group? And I think that’s the number one way that I think leaders earn trust these days is to demonstrate that they’re truly in it for their teams, for their people, and bettering their people in their own career journeys. I’m here to be of service to you.

That is where that trust journey starts. It does not start with, “Well I’m the boss and therefore I said X and therefore you’re going to do Y.” That leader is probably going to have that team for not very long. And there’s an old adage that says, “Leaders get the teams they deserve.” Well, that’s going to be the proof in the pudding there if that is the case.

So I think starting out with that of how do I show up in a way that earns trust from the work group that is creating transparency and authenticity in that guidance? I think in the pandemic, our BS meter got a lot more sensitive, that people are much more attuned to when someone is trying to pull the wool over their eyes or try and hand wave their way through something. And I think that’s a good thing because it’s calling all of us to be better leaders, better managers, and be more authentic in the way that we guide and serve every day. And again, root ourselves in service, and that will be at the root of trust that will be gained and earned and drive a lot of value for our work groups and our companies.

Johnny Campbell:

I love that, I feel like we could do another hour just on leadership principles to live by. As I know from conversations we had a couple of weeks ago, you have a lot more on that. But David, I’ve taken enough of your time today. I really appreciate you joining us to share Intercom story, your own personal story, some of the tips around making flexibility work, and some of the benefits for organizations and sharing with our audience today. We’d love to have you back on another STLive on a different day.

L. David Kingsley:

Johnny, it’s been my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

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