The People Leader Imperative: Re-inventing people leader programs that win

Teams work together differently today. Team members also face different challenges and opportunities. This demands a new approach for people leadership and the people and systems that support them.

In this episode, Stefani Okamoto, Director of Manager Excellence at Service now, shares her deep passion for people leadership and offers insights on how companies can build a pipeline of amazing people leaders.

In our conversation, Stefani shares the following insights:

  • Care needs to be the heart of people leadership today, especially as we work differently than before and face rapidly changing dynamics.
    “Having a leader that is more caring, that is more supportive and in tune to who you are as a human being, collectively – both professionally and personally – is more important than ever before. Before Covid, teams were together all the time, which made connecting as a team easier. Now, in our dispersed way of working, leaders really have to intentionally find ways to connect with each person.”
  • The role of people leader is more difficult than ever and they need a company and senior leadership that sets them up for success.
    “The data show that people managers are burning out at a rate faster than employees. So, companies need to set managers up for success by clarifying their role at the company and really valuing it. This can come in a few different ways: flipping around the performance conversation and rewarding managers who are really showing up for their teams. Senior leaders also have a role to play, acknowledging people leaders for taking on this difficult role of caring for our employees.”
  • Clarifying roles with each employee is the most important thing you can do for your team.
    “Whether it’s a new team or an existing team, it’s critical to clarify roles, first and foremost. Then, together with each person, define the goals within the description or definition of the role. Also, identify individual career goals, so you can make sure you’re getting the business objectives done collectively with your team, and helping each person find meaning in their work that can open them to future career growth and opportunities.”

Connect with Stefani on LinkedIn:

Meet Stefani Okamoto
Management Excellence is my passion – Being an incredible manager is my purpose. I consider myself exceptionally fortunate to live my purpose and passion in the work I do every day.

In my 23 years at Microsoft, I reinvented myself many times. I grew from being a software tester to the leader of Management Excellence in Global Learning and Development. I was instrumental in redefining the Role of the Manager and landing the Manager Expectations: Model, Coach, Care. I worked to increase the skills and capabilities of Microsoft’s 30,000 managers every single day – while ensuring every manager prioritized authentically caring for each team member as human beings, especially during some of the most difficult times the world had seen. This work significantly impacted the culture at Microsoft.

In my current role, I am privileged to contribute to the success of ServiceNow, in owning Manager Excellence. I’ve crafted a manager excellence strategy that is designed to equip every manager with role clarity, explicit expectations, a segmented manager portfolio, and a system for recognition and accountability. My mission is to enhance manager skills and competencies, while ensuring that every manager places genuine care for each team member at the heart of their leadership. Simultaneously, I’m working diligently to ensure that each employee has a consistent, positive experience with their manager – in an environment where they can perform at their absolute best. I am dedicated to shaping the future of management at ServiceNow, ensuring that managers are well-equipped to lead effectively, and employees thrive under their guidance.

I’m proud that I not only own and drive this work, but I authentically and genuinely live and model it every day as a manager. It is my passion. It is my purpose.

TILTCO is a boutique consulting company that helps leaders define and execute their strategies in order to achieve extraordinary business and personal results. Founded by Tineke Keesmaat, she brings her more than 20 years of leadership consulting experience rooted at McKinsey & Company and Accenture to supports today’s leaders achieve exceptional results.