Chris Rollins is a Leadership and Executive Coach who launched his own company, Chris Rollins Coaching, in 2020 to support HR leaders and folks in the LGBTQ+ community. Chris left a 10-year corporate career to build a purpose-driven coaching business committed to developing leaders and company cultures that embrace modern, progressive, and inclusive people practices.
Chris also founded QueeHR, an online community that brings together LGBTQ+, HR, DEI and People leaders to support and inspire each other to bring more humanity into the workplace.
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Table of Contents
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned?
Chris Rollins: As we wrap up 2022 and head into 2023, many lessons have been learned by businesses across the globe. One major lesson we’ve re-learned is that companies must put their people first. If businesses take care of their people, their people will take better care of their customers. To do this well, companies must stay centered on their own purpose and mission, and use their values as guideposts for important decisions.
After the curveballs of the past few years, the Human Resources (HR) role has evolved and gained more respect; HR leaders are finally getting the recognition they deserve. They have taken on more responsibility than ever these last two years, and more than any other position within a company.
Going forward, businesses should prioritize their people’s needs when it comes to hybrid, remote, or in-office work. Getting a pulse from your employees will help you understand what works best for them. Also, don’t forget to take care of your HR teams. Take stock of the departments that may need your support after a tough couple of years, especially HR teams!
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2023? What advice would you share?
Chris Rollins: The economy has experienced lots of ups and downs the past few years, and businesses should realize that conditions will continue to change. With unexpected environmental and economic factors creating uncertainty, it’s important to remember that none of this is in our control. What businesses CAN control is how they treat their people in the midst of all of the madness. If businesses take an inclusive, compassionate, people-first approach, they have a better chance of survival.
How a company handles layoffs, for example, is something that particularly matters during times of economic uncertainty. Leadership should be mindful of inclusion and diversity, and provide thoughtful, transparent communication.
We’ve seen countless examples of how companies handle layoffs incorrectly. Leadership sets up a company-wide zoom call to relay the news to their employees, immediately locking all affected out of company systems. This happens more often than it should.
While it’s important to know how NOT to handle layoffs, pay attention to companies that have handled layoffs correctly. As we continue to go through uncertain times, set up support groups afterwards to connect all employees who were laid off with each other, and share job opportunities to help them find work again.
My final piece of advice for businesses going into 2023 is to hire a leadership coach to help your leaders build better culture through improved conversations. Every conversation that leaders have with their teams creates a ripple. You want to make sure those ripples are creating positive change and leaving people feeling inspired, engaged and motivated in their work. A leadership coach can help you build the self-awareness and communication skills to make sure your intent matches your impact when it comes to leading teams and building culture.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Chris Rollins: There have been some positive outcomes from the pandemic for the HR community, as its created more collaboration, sharing, and support between HR professionals at various companies rather than working in silos. Together, they’ve committed to the greater good of making work a better place.
I personally found that even within the HR community, there was a need to create a niche group that offered more targeted support. During the pandemic, I launched QueeHR, an online community of LGBTQ+ and ally folks in the HR/People which creates opportunities for meaningful conversations, mutual support and relationship building. The group has grown to over 400 people on LinkedIn, and it’s one of my proudest accomplishments coming out of the pandemic.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2023?
Chris Rollins: One realization I had through the pandemic is that there is no room for competition in the leadership coaching space, and that it’s actually more valuable for business to build connections, find ways to support each other and raise each other up.
One way to improve on this belief is to focus on local in-person community building, even with other HR professionals or leadership coaches, because we can create more positive change in our workplaces and communities when we support each other.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2023?
Chris Rollins: According to the NRF, U.S. retailers announced twice as many brick & mortar store openings as closings in 2021, providing solid evidence for the shift back to in-person shopping and in-person events. As we move into 2023, I expect that people are going to be more hungry to get together in person and appreciate that time more than they did before.
In my own business, I will continue to use online coaching as a vehicle to work with my clients that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to meet with, while also building a strong network of local connections and local businesses. I also predict that more businesses will bring in leadership coaches and recognize how important it is for their leaders to be empathetic, humble, and inclusive to employees to create a positive work culture.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Chris Rollins: Managing screentime is an ongoing challenge for me, but I am intentional about how I set up my days and weeks to be sure that as my business grows, I am not sacrificing my quality of life. I make sure to spend time doing things that I love offscreen, like playing golf, spending time with friends, and traveling.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Chris Rollins: In my own business I use stories when working with clients to help illustrate an idea or to bring in a perspective that might spur insight that otherwise would have been more difficult to bring to light. As a leadership coach, I find that it’s helpful to share an anecdote or a personal story as a way to connect with my clients and be more approachable for them.
By telling my story of coming out and my experience with leadership, I try to show that it’s ok to not have it all figured out, and focus rather on highlighting others or spotlighting great leaders in the LGBTQ+ community. My goal is to continue to empower other people to see themselves as the great leaders they are.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Chris Rollins: I think business is about more than overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. It’s about helping people flourish in their careers and live better lives. A theme that will continue to evolve into 2023 is that business is also people’s livelihood, their source of income, and organizations need to realize that they’re selling more than just a product or service. They’re also creating space for people to thrive as a whole person, working towards their own personal and professional goals.
The challenge for companies is maintaining the focus on people, because caring about burnout and a healthy work/life balance takes intention. By investing in a leadership coach for your organization, you are proving to your people that you want to create a positive workplace culture. For example, companies with ERG leaders taking on additional responsibilities are appreciative of additional coaching to support their development as the future leaders of the company!
In 2023, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Chris Rollins: In 2023, I am most interested in learning more about the neuroscience of leadership and taking a neuroscientific approach to coaching. Neuroscience by definition is the study of the brain and the nervous system and how these systems function and create actions and/or reactions.
Coaching provides guidance and enables change for positive outcomes for my clients, and I’m starting to learn more about how to use this mechanism to increase the benefits of coaching through neuroscience.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Chris Rollins: I think there is currently a major difference between how managers perceive their effectiveness and what we’re hearing from their direct reports. Due to a lack of proper training and coaching, managers aren’t as self-aware as they need to be, and this can often lead to a mismatch between intent and impact.
The opportunity here is for managers to be trained on how to have better conversations in the workplace, be better listeners, and in turn, create ripples that have a positive effect on their teams.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Chris Rollins: If I could pick any business superpower, I would choose to be able to quickly identify everything happening in the invisible context of company interactions.
The invisible context is when a conversation or meeting is happening in the workplace, and there are aspects you cannot see; people’s mindsets, the relationship history of people in the room, and other emotions being brought into the meeting. The visible context items are more physical; an agenda, a group of people coming together, etc., but I’d love to be able to quickly identify everything happening in the invisible context and bring it to light so that we can move forward faster. This is part of the work I do now, but it takes time.
What does “success” in 2023 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Chris Rollins: Moving into 2023, my personal goal is to establish a solid group of close personal friends in the area I recently moved to. I would also like to make golf a bigger priority in my personal life.
On a business level, I plan to become a trusted partner to a few select local businesses where I am deeply embedded into their people & culture, creating meaningful waves of positive change in their culture, and making it a great place to work for everybody.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Chris Rollins for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Chris Rollins or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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