Leadership is about how you get the best out of your people and adapt to different people’s working styles.Candice De Goede
In this edition of our new Leadership Development Interview Series, we sat down with Candice De Goede, Head of People at Hohm Energy, a fast-growing, fully-remote startup in the renewable energy space. In our chat, she tells us about the skills needed to succeed as a leader in a remote company, and overcoming natural resistance to new training initiatives.
Candice, can you tell us a bit about your current role and company?
So it’s a startup in a scale-up phase. It is pre-Series A, so we’ve raised a few funding rounds. We’ll be break-even profitable by the end of this year. We are a renewable energy solution, building a marketplace for solar, both for consumer and business markets. We’re not a solar installer; we build it in the marketplace with a platform. The company was started two years ago, and currently, it has a little less than 80 employees, and operates globally.
How do you currently select new leadership talent to develop?
This is always the challenge with identifying talents, if the roles are not well defined. When the roles are not well defined, you cannot identify the gaps. Identifying talents at this stage is very biased to what the manager does. It’s like salary bands too – if your manager speaks up for you, the needle will move. If not, then you will remain where you are. When there is no structured format in place, it is purely if someone asks the right question at the right time.
Which tools and programs do you have in place for that?
None yet, it’s all very new. I had to put in an HRIS system first. I am investigating coaching and development tools. This is a lot of the reason I’m here. I’m looking at coaching platforms, also to look at EORs because I’m struggling with my existing provider a lot.
What are currently challenges with leadership development overall in your company?
The main challenge is time. How do you explain time, the whole ‘time is money’ adage to everyone’s life? In a fully remote organization, balancing work and personal life is challenging. Encouraging continuous learning and development is difficult, especially when there’s resistance or resentment from employees towards spending time on e-learning. Timing is crucial – when is the right time to expose someone to a situation and/or experience and how deep do you go and at what pace without overwhelming them?
Have you considered using AI tools in developing the future generation of leaders? Why not?
I am currently busy looking into AI tools for assessments to be less biased towards manager assessments and peer feedback. AI tools can help bridge the gap between super seniors and young enthusiasts, and I think all C-suite should coach or mentor one or two people. The challenge with AI is the unlearning aspect and bridging between different experience levels.
Which skills do people need to succeed as a leader at your company?
I’m a firm believer in soft skills. Leadership is about how you get the best out of your people and adapt to different people’s working styles. Constant feedback is important, especially in a remote setting, to understand what’s going on in someone’s life and work. I also focus on hiring the right people who are willing to learn and take on new challenges.
If you were able to support everyone that wanted it in developing their leadership skills, instead of a few selected people what would be different?
The more people are willing to learn, the better the organization. It’s about hiring right and investing in the right team. It’s also important to consider what motivates people – not everyone is driven by intrinsic motivation to learn. If we could offer personalized support to everyone, people would feel appreciated in their development and see it as a platform for their next job. This would extend the employee life cycle and create better humans overall.
Why does leadership development even matter?
Creating better humans is the goal. The more knowledge you have, generally the better human you are. It’s about creating a sense of responsibility and thinking ahead. Feeding responsibility and forward-thinking creates better, more responsible individuals. This education drives better behaviors in every aspect of life, from recycling to water conservation.
To learn from more experts on how to grow leaders at your company, check out our full list of interviews here.
If you’re looking to grow future leaders at your own company, get in touch to see how Bunch can enable you to give every person in your company a personalized, continuous development program in just 2 minutes a day.