In this episode, Heather speaks with Danielle Vaughan, EVP of Human Resources at FirstBank about her journey to leadership, her unique leadership style and what leaders can do to better connect with their teams.

Key takeaways:

  • Leadership is a long journey.
  • If you want employee buy-in, break down the goals into smaller steps.
  • Have courage to ask for feedback to keep you on track.
  • Leadership is more of how you leave people feeling and how much they want to follow.
  • Grow your social intelligence by understanding what your people needs.
  • If you feel like your desk is neglected, imagine what you people might be feeling.
  • Stay true to your values and don’t have regrets.
This episode is full of wisdom, so you better not miss this one!

Danielle is a strong advocate of being in alignment with one’s principles. This showed at a young age when she started her internship at FirstBank and eventually, she had undergone the Management Training Program where she felt valued and not pressured to be something she’s not.

Currently, Danielle is leading her people as the Executive Vice President of Human Resources where she oversees many HR functions, including payroll, benefits and employee relations and she is blessed to have a rewarding career.

More To Go

Understanding how big leadership is and how involving it is, is very important. Growing up, if you’re a high-achiever type, you achieve and check off the box. Before you know it, you think you’re somebody and are praised for what you’ve done. Then, you get into the real world and you get feedback and challenges you haven’t had before. This journey has been pretty long for me. I’ve really been strongly on it for a little over ten years.

Now, I am at the point where I understand that I probably have more to go than I have achieved. It’s really inspiring, fun, and challenging, and it gives you a platform to really make a difference for yourself, for your family and for your company. 


Everybody is in a position to be a leader. -Danielle Vaughan #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Break It Down

Usually the first thing is to understand where your people’s reservations are coming from. 

It’s really easy to assume those reservations and it’s easy to start combating what you’re assuming the issues are, as opposed to just really understanding the concerns you have and the obstacles you foresee. Really digging into that helps the journey anyway, in order to get to the goal.

Also, I think, breaking down the bigger goals into pieces that are really doable and manageable and giving permission for things to take time, putting quality over speed, is good. That’s usually how I lead the team together and bring it to a finish line.

You’re going to need your people’s expertise, time, and commitment. Also, in a lot of times, the concerns are legitimate and it’s just that they’re also ones that you can overcome, so that’s bringing both of those perspectives together to eventually meet the goal.

The Seat At The Table

Interestingly, I wouldn’t say that I necessarily had a goal of leading others, but what I do have a goal of is making a difference, having a voice and having a seat at the table where decisions are made, where differences can be united, and where things can be improved. 

What I have noticed is that in order to do that, you probably have to be in a leadership position, leading others and leading an organization.

No matter what you're working towards, just stay true to your personal values. – Danielle Vaughan #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

I don’t completely have an interest in leading just for the sake of leading. How do I want to make a difference in way that I can leverage my talents and my perspectives?

I like to be part of a meaningful change, and with that comes leading others. You have to interact, understand, encourage, and develop people, and rely on them. You can get more through others than just through yourself.

You can be a leader of yourself, of others or of an organization. – Danielle Vaughan #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet
Focus on what's really important to you, regardless of how tough the journey is. -Danielle Vaughan #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet
You can get more through others than just through yourself. -Danielle Vaughan #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


Connect with Danielle on LinkedIn

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