Nathalie Weister of EPM Studio On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During…

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Nathalie Weister of EPM Studio On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain & Turbulent Times

Encourage Personal and Professional Development: Leaders should motivate their teams to invest in themselves — learning new skills and enhancing their well-being. This investment goes beyond professional growth; it’s about holistic development. Providing resources and creating time and space for team members to expand their skill sets and take care of their mental and physical health is vital. This approach not only prepares team members for the evolving demands of the business world but also shows that the organization cares for their overall well-being.

As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Nathalie Weister of EPM Studio.

Nathalie is a certified bilingual Leadership Coach and Human Resources Executive. She is passionate about supporting her clients and stakeholders connect to their innate creativity and purpose, maximizing their fulfillment and impact on their companies and teams. Nathalie has focused her career for the last 13+ years on holistic people development strategies that enhance organizational culture and engagement.

During her six-year tenure with Fox Networks Group Latin America, Nathalie led diverse HR teams in Argentina and Mexico, two of the media conglomerate’s most significant growth markets. In her subsequent role as Director of Leadership Development and Careers at Hilton, Nathalie stewarded the talent management strategy for hotel operations across the Americas region. Most recently, she led organizational design and growth to launch the world’s largest Spanish-language streaming business, ViX, at TelevisaUnivision. Nathalie recently left her corporate position to launch her own business, EPM Studio, where she is pursuing her passion for coaching and leadership development full-time. Additional information can be found on her website at

Nathalie trained at the Co-Active Training Institute (CTI), through which she became a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) as well as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC), credentialed by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She holds a degree in Business Administration from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and is a certified Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR). In addition to her CPCC and ACC credentials, she completed a diploma in Ontological Coaching from the Ibero-American University in Mexico City.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Graduating from college with a degree in hand but no clear direction, I steered myself into management consulting — a field I hoped would satiate my appetite for diverse industry exposure. However, the 2009 economic downturn abruptly curtailed my tenure, leading to an unexpected but fortuitous pivot towards Latin America — a region I had long been fascinated by. Consulting for a pay-tv company there, I embraced the ‘fake it till you make it’ philosophy, which surprisingly carved out a niche for me in Human Resources, almost serendipitously. It felt like a twist of fate when I was drawn into HR full-time by a mentor who saw potential in me that I hadn’t yet recognized. This pivotal shift not only changed my career trajectory but allowed me to fulfill a dream: to live and work in Latin America, where I led HR teams in both Argentina and Mexico.

After about seven years in HR, I discovered a passion for coaching, which resonated deeper than any other aspect of my work. Pursuing this passion, I became certified and began coaching on the side, building a clientele and expertise that emboldened me to eventually take a leap of faith. This year, I left behind my corporate identity to start my own company — a decision as daunting as it was when I moved from Atlanta to Argentina years ago. Now, I’m eagerly anticipating this next phase, where I have the privilege of charting my own path and making meaningful professional contributions on my terms.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Fresh out of college, I found myself navigating the perils of a post-recession job market, which led me to a contract position evaluating and implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for a pay-TV company — despite not knowing the first thing about CRM systems. As I previously mentioned, the phrase ‘fake it till you make it’ took on a literal meaning as I grappled with the steep learning curve, all under the looming hope of landing a permanent role. The weight of expectation I placed on myself was crushing, blurring the boundaries between my self-worth and job performance.

One evening, overwrought with worry, I shared my fears with my father, who offered a slice of his matter-of-fact wisdom: “Nathalie, what’s the worst that can happen? They fire you? You’ve already experienced that, and you know that you can survive it.” Note that I had been abruptly laid off from my first job out of college during the economic downturn just a few months earlier. His words, though frank, stated the obvious and granted me a newfound perspective — my individual value wasn’t defined by this job or any other.

This epiphany shifted my approach. I realized that the company had seen potential in me beyond technical expertise — they recognized my drive and ability to learn, qualities that I’ve since understood are the cornerstones of effective HR and management. This formative experience taught me two invaluable lessons: the importance of maintaining perspective amidst challenges and that a tenacious spirit and willingness to learn often outweigh technical skills. These insights proved true, as I was eventually offered a full-time position, validating the enduring power of adaptability and personal growth in one’s career journey.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

In every professional journey, there comes a pivotal moment when someone sees in you what you might not yet see in yourself. For me, this person was not just a mentor but has become a cherished friend and part of my extended family. While I was deep in the trenches of the CRM project at the pay-tv company, unsure of my career path, a new HR Director with extensive large-company and international experience joined our ranks to establish a strategic human resources function.

She had an eye for potential and saw something in me that I had not yet realized. Despite my lack of HR knowledge, she believed I could contribute and grow within this field. She entrusted me with the task of spearheading management training across Latin America and leading the development of a new compensation structure, all within my first two years. Her faith in my ability to learn and adapt was unwavering.

Her mentorship went beyond professional development; she instilled in me the courage to dive into the unknown and the wisdom to navigate complex challenges. Today, she remains a fundamental part of my life, a testament to the profound impact a mentor can have. Her guidance reminds me of the value of seeking out or being that supportive figure who can provide insight and encouragement. After all, it’s often a mentor’s belief in our potential that ignites our own hunger to succeed and learn.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your organization started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

Launching my own venture as a leadership coach this year was a leap of faith spurred by a belief that true success in business is not just about profit but also about nurturing the human spirit. Disenchanted with corporate environments where purpose and people were secondary considerations, I envisioned a new kind of organization — one where the prosperity of individuals and the collective go hand in hand. My company was born out of a desire to empower organizations and their leaders to realize their full potential through integrative processes, fostering authentic human interactions, greater connectivity, and cultivating personal and professional growth. My vision is ultimately to inspire a paradigm shift in leadership to maximize impact both internally, enhancing the employee experience, and externally, influencing broader societal change.

I stand firm in the conviction that we’ve reached a crucial juncture where courageous leaders are ready to ignite a transformative blaze across the corporate landscape. Amidst a workforce hungry for meaning and engagement, I offer a beacon of change — a call to redefine the workplace as a sanctuary of creativity, purpose, and personal growth. This is not just a lofty ideal but a tangible goal, as the post-Covid era has primed us for a profound collective introspection and a hunger for alignment between our work, our well-being, and our deeper values.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?

When I embraced what I believed was my dream job at a leading hospitality company, I was eager to contribute to Leadership and Talent Development across the Americas. This was a leap into a new industry and specialized role, marking a significant shift from my prior generalist background. However, just six weeks in, the world was gripped by the unforeseen challenges of Covid-19. The pandemic cast a shadow of uncertainty, threatening health and livelihoods, including my own and that of my team.

In these trying times, our role in crisis management wasn’t direct, but we pivoted to become a source of value in novel ways. We extended our support to overextended HR areas, lending a helping hand wherever it was needed. My team and I created the “Good Newsletter,” showcasing the inspiring actions of hotel staff and offering a beacon of positivity by sharing motivational resources, training courses, and practical toolkits to navigate the storm.

Despite these efforts, furloughs became a reality, a pause that tested our resilience. We remained a tight-knit group, offering mutual support and preparing for a return that would see us shouldering expanded responsibilities. This period refined our focus to efficiency and innovation, transitioning from on-site visits to crafting bite-sized virtual training sessions. We empowered hotel leaders with the skills to thrive in multifaceted roles within their now more compact teams, embracing the shift to a leaner, more adaptable mode of operation.

This experience was a testament to our adaptability and commitment. It underscored the importance of leadership that supports, innovates, and uplifts, ensuring that even when faced with the most daunting challenges, we can find creative ways to foster growth and continue our mission to develop talent and leadership.

Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?

The relentless pursuit of success once propelled me, predominantly fueled by the allure of external validation. My mother’s passing, however, brought a seismic shift in my worldview. She had been my cornerstone, and her absence forced me to confront the impermanence of life and the true nature of my ambitions. In the quiet left by my loss, I discovered clarity. The chase for fleeting accolades — promotions, recognition from prestigious companies — paled in comparison to the more profound quest for fulfillment.

Embracing entrepreneurship has been a newfound journey outside my comfort zone, marked by challenges that test my resolve daily. Yet, this path has allowed me to craft a vision and mission that resonate deeply with my values. It’s a conscious choice to work with clients who share this alignment.

I recognize the privilege inherent in pursuing one’s higher purpose, just as I acknowledge the hard work that has afforded me this opportunity. This perspective sustains my drive; it’s the compass that guides me towards a life rich with meaning, where success is measured not by titles or accolades but by the depth and breadth of my impact.

I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?

The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Klemp resonated with me at a profound level, challenging my preconceived notions of leadership. It shed light on how principles considered ‘spiritual’ could revolutionize the corporate world, which often seemed at odds with such values. Their definition of conscious leadership as the intersection of radical responsibility and acute awareness struck a chord with me. It dismantled the notion that the workplace is a separate entity from our personal growth and holistic well-being.

One transformative concept from the book is the Drama Triangle, which illuminates common traps of victim consciousness that leaders — and indeed all of us — can fall into. This awareness was a revelation, especially during the high-stress periods inherent in leadership roles.

I vividly recall a time recently when being overlooked for a promotion left me feeling like a victim. Lamenting over my dedication to the company and positive performance reviews, I faced the prospect of being ‘layered’ with a new boss instead of being offered that role. It was the book’s wisdom that prompted a paradigm shift within me, from a mindset of things happening ‘to me’ to things happening ‘for me’. Embracing the role of the Creator, I took this as a sign to initiate the monumental personal and professional change I had long contemplated. Leaving behind the familiar, I launched my own venture, becoming the architect of my destiny. This shift from Victim to Creator was catalyzed by the reminders so eloquently framed in this book, inspiring me to lead not just with my mind, but with my soul — spawning the birth of my business and the true beginning of my journey as a conscious leader.

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?

In the throes of the Covid-19 crisis, a transformative period that redefined our professional, economic, and personal realms, I was reminded of the wisdom of Peter Drucker, the venerable sage of modern management. He posited that a leader’s primary duty is to manage their own energy and, in turn, to orchestrate the energy of those they lead. This insight dovetails with the aforementioned principles of The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, particularly the paramount commitment to personal responsibility: the dedication to one’s well-being and the empowerment of others to do the same.

During tumultuous times, the quintessence of leadership is the capacity to remain centered, to consciously choose our response to the unfolding challenges, and to acknowledge that our reaction is the sole element under our command. The true measure of a leader is reflected in how they embody and demonstrate this responsibility, setting a resonant tone that cascades throughout the organization. As leaders, we must be acutely aware that our teams draw from our energy. The climate we cultivate is infectious, and it is our responsibility to foster an environment conducive to productivity and ingenuity. By prioritizing our energetic state and guiding our teams to do likewise, we unlock the collective potential to navigate crises with agility and emerge with renewed strength.

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

In times of uncertainty, the question of how to buoy team morale transcends conventional strategies. As leaders, our role isn’t merely to inspire optimism but to cultivate an environment that champions the growth mindset and creates a sense of meaningful engagement.

To begin, empowering individuals to become stewards of their own energy and perspective is crucial. While we cannot dictate external events, we can exercise dominion over our internal landscape. Encouraging team members to embrace their role as the predominant creators of their experience instills a sense of agency that is both liberating and galvanizing.

Drawing from Stephen Covey’s influential work, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we can apply the inside-out approach to morale-boosting. This philosophy advocates for a foundational shift starting with our paradigms — the lens through which we view the world. By re-evaluating and recalibrating our internal compasses, we pave the way for transformative behavior that aligns with our deepest values and convictions.

Moreover, as leaders, we should inspire our teams by mapping out a vision that aligns personal growth with the organization’s success. It’s about connecting daily tasks to a larger purpose, showing how each role contributes to a grander scheme. This alignment imbues work with significance, and significance is the bedrock of sustained motivation.

Finally, engaging with our teams should be a practice steeped in authenticity and continuous feedback. It’s about nurturing a culture where open dialogue, shared stories of resilience, and collaborative problem-solving are the norm. By celebrating small victories and learning from setbacks together, we not only maintain morale but elevate it, forging a team that is resilient, adaptive, and deeply interconnected.

In essence, the best way to boost morale is to invest in the holistic development of people — shaping a collective journey that views challenges not as hurdles but as stepping stones to greater collective and individual achievements.

What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?

During turbulent times, delivering difficult news to a team or customers requires a careful balance of honesty and empathy. It is not just about what is communicated but how it’s conveyed. In such moments, I draw upon the principles outlined in Marshall B. Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, which provides a powerful framework (known as NVC) for open, compassionate dialogue.

The NVC approach is anchored in four key components:

  1. Observations: This involves sharing observations without embedding personal judgments. It’s about stating the facts as neutrally as possible — “In the past quarter, our revenues have decreased,” rather than “We’ve made bad decisions.”
  2. Feelings: It’s essential to express the emotions that arise from these observations. Acknowledging feelings like concern or disappointment helps to humanize the communication — “This decline makes me concerned,” rather than “You should be worried.”
  3. Needs: Articulating the underlying needs that inform our feelings fosters understanding and connects us on a human level. For instance, “I am concerned because I need to ensure the company’s stability,” instead of “You need to do better.”
  4. Requests: Finally, making clear, actionable requests without demanding can guide the next steps constructively — “Could we explore potential solutions?” instead of “You must fix this.”

Creating a safe space where people can express and empathize with these elements is key. Using NVC, we approach difficult conversations with a blend of clarity and compassion, making it possible to navigate challenging discussions without losing sight of our shared humanity.

In communicating tough news, I strive to be as transparent as possible, allowing space for others to share their feelings and reactions. This not only maintains trust but also encourages a collective effort to move forward positively.

In essence, the best communication in hard times builds trust, fosters connection, and leads to cooperative action, turning challenges into opportunities for growth and learning.

How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?

Independent of the time and place we find ourselves, the future always unfolds with unpredictable twists and leaders are often confronted with the challenge of planning amidst uncertainty. The key is not to seek certainty, but to cultivate agility. As life’s transience has taught me, we must learn to move with purpose, yet without rigid expectations.

Setting intentions becomes a guiding star, a way to navigate without being bound by precise outcomes. It’s about considering various scenarios, not to predict every turn, but to be prepared to adapt to them. As Stephen Covey eloquently put it, again referencing The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, true happiness — and I believe success — is the art of balancing immediate desires with the pursuit of an envisioned future.

This balancing act requires us to embrace a paradox: holding onto our vision loosely enough to adapt, yet firmly enough to stay the course when buffeted by the winds of change. It involves establishing good habits now, which may mean foregoing some instant rewards to lay a stronger foundation for the future.

In financial planning, for instance, we save for retirement, sacrificing immediate pleasures for future security. Yet, we must also live in the present, enjoying life’s offerings that resonate with our values and contribute to our well-being. In my case, travel is a non-negotiable; it enriches my life now while I also plan for the future.

Translating this to leadership means fostering a culture where the present is valued — a workplace that encourages growth and learning even as we prepare for future challenges. It’s about asking whether our current actions align with our core values, enhance our well-being, and lead to fulfillment. This mindset empowers teams to act decisively and with conviction, even in the face of uncertainty.

Leaders must, therefore, be architects of adaptable strategies, crafting plans that allow for flexibility and innovation. We must lead by example, showing that while we are prudent planners, we also embrace the present with passion and presence. This dual approach ensures that our leadership is not just about navigating the unknown, but thriving in it.

Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?

In navigating the ebb and flow of business, especially during turbulent times, the principle of impermanence emerges as a guiding light. This ancient wisdom, echoing through the ages, reminds us that change is the only constant and that every circumstance, no matter how daunting, is transient.

Reflecting on personal experiences can often provide a microcosmic view of this universal truth. We’ve all faced moments that seemed insurmountable — a job loss, a personal setback — only to find, with the passage of time, these challenges were catalysts for profound transformation. They were not endpoints but waypoints on a journey of growth and evolution.

In the context of a company, embracing the principle of impermanence instills a mindset of resilience and adaptability. It encourages us to view every downturn as a phase, a temporary state that holds within it the seeds of future growth and success. Just as importantly, it teaches us to appreciate and capitalize on the good times, knowing they too are fleeting.

This philosophy underpins a leadership approach that is both grounded and forward-looking. It fosters a culture where teams are not overwhelmed by the turbulence of the present but are inspired to see beyond it, recognizing that each challenge is an opportunity to learn, innovate, and emerge stronger. Moreover, this principle helps to cultivate an organizational ethos where change is not merely endured but embraced as a natural and inevitable part of the journey. It prepares the company to not just weather the storms but to sail through them with a sense of purpose and direction, aware that the journey itself is as significant as the destination.

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

In my experience, several common missteps can exacerbate challenges during difficult times for businesses. Recognizing these pitfalls is key to navigating turbulent periods successfully:

  1. Reactive Decision-Making: Often, businesses act reactively out of fear, making hasty decisions without fully assessing the situation. This knee-jerk reaction can lead to simply mirroring the strategies of other companies rather than developing an independent, thought-out response tailored to their unique circumstances and culture. To avoid this, it’s crucial to take a step back, evaluate the landscape thoroughly, and make decisions grounded in data and a clear understanding of one’s specific business model and market.
  2. Neglecting Employee Voices: In times of crisis, there’s a tendency to become authoritarian, driven by a human desire for control. However, this often leads to overlooking a company’s most valuable asset — its people. Effective communication and empathy can fall by the wayside in a rush to protect the bottom line, resulting in decisions that, while financially sound, can harm employee morale and loyalty. Balancing fiscal responsibilities with the needs and insights of employees is vital. Listening to their input can provide innovative solutions and foster a committed, motivated workforce.
  3. Underestimating the Power of Adaptability: A common error is clinging to the status quo or existing business models, underestimating the need for adaptability. The business landscape is constantly evolving, and flexibility in strategy, operations, and thinking is essential. Companies that are slow to adapt to market changes, technological advancements, or shifts in consumer behavior often find themselves lagging behind. Embracing change, encouraging innovation, and being willing to pivot can be difference-makers.
  4. Overlooking Long-Term Implications for Short-Term Gains: In crisis management, there’s often an impulse to focus on immediate results. However, decisions made in the short term can have long-lasting effects on brand reputation, customer loyalty, and employee trust. It’s important to consider the long-term implications of actions taken during tough times. Strategies should be sustainable and align with the company’s core values and vision.

To circumvent these errors, it’s crucial to maintain a balanced approach, where swift action is tempered with strategic thinking, employee insights are valued, adaptability is embraced, and long-term vision guides decision-making. This holistic approach can help steer a business through challenging periods with integrity and resilience.

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times?

  1. Establish a Clear Direction and Effective Time Management: In times of turbulence, when multiple challenges arise simultaneously, it’s crucial for a leader to act as a guiding beacon. One should provide a ‘North Star’ — a clear sense of direction and purpose, as emphasized in the “roles and goals” concept from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey highlights the importance of focusing on activities that are important but not necessarily urgent, advocating for a principle-centered approach. By aligning actions with a clear mission, principles, and values, leaders can help teams prioritize effectively and stay focused on crucial tasks, thus avoiding the trap of constant reactivity.
  2. Manage Fear and Emotional Reactions: Fear and emotional reactions can often hijack rational thinking. A model from a book called The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Program to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence, and Happiness by Dr. Steve Peters offers a way to recognize and manage these responses. By noticing habitual reactions, questioning them, and exploring alternatives like mindful breathing or perspective shifts, leaders can maintain a calm and collected demeanor. This approach helps in creating an environment where decisions are not fear-driven but are thoughtful and balanced.
  3. Set Realistic Expectations and Focus on Problem-Solving: As noted in another prolific leadership book called The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle, successful teams are not necessarily happy-go-lucky but are united in solving challenging problems. During tough times, it’s more important for leaders to orient teams toward solving complex issues rather than solely pursuing happiness. This involves candid feedback and truth-telling to bridge the gap between the current state and desired outcomes. It’s about fostering a culture of engagement and resilience rather than mere contentment.
  4. Encourage Personal and Professional Development: Leaders should motivate their teams to invest in themselves — learning new skills and enhancing their well-being. This investment goes beyond professional growth; it’s about holistic development. Providing resources and creating time and space for team members to expand their skill sets and take care of their mental and physical health is vital. This approach not only prepares team members for the evolving demands of the business world but also shows that the organization cares for their overall well-being.
  5. Build a Sense of Belonging and Create a Safe Space for Vulnerability: As outlined in the aforementioned book The Culture Code, it’s essential for leaders to foster a sense of belonging and make it safe for team members to be vulnerable. This involves personal connections, timely performance feedback, and engaging in larger conversations that transcend work. Acknowledging mistakes and sharing the journey of navigating uncertain times reinforces the message: “You are part of this group.” Such an environment encourages open communication, mutual support, and a strong team spirit.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One of my favorite life lesson quotes, paraphrased from Byron Katie’s profound book Loving What Is, deeply resonates with me. She says: “Where there’s no thought, there’s no problem. Our problem is always a thought we innocently believe. A thought is harmless unless we believe it. Belief is a choice. You have the choice to believe whatever you want to believe. Some of our thoughts are so ingrained we don’t even know they are optional. Any belief you find you’re believing in that’s causing you pain is a thought you can consider changing.”

This quote encapsulates a transformative realization in my life: the power of being an observer of my reality rather than a victim of it. Understanding that our problems often stem from thoughts we unconsciously believe, I learned the significance of becoming conscious of them, questioning and reframing these ingrained beliefs, especially those that cause distress.

This insight has been particularly pivotal in my coaching practice. As a coach, my role is not to dictate how clients should think, but to empower them to recognize and alter their own habitual thought patterns that keep them feeling stuck or unfulfilled. It’s about guiding them to harness their higher consciousness, which I believe is a human superpower. When used effectively, this awareness allows us to shape our experiences and maximize our potential.

How can our readers further follow your work?

Thank you! I am also a writer of a blog filled with insights in the same vein as this interview, which readers can follow on my website at or directly on my blog site at

I would also encourage readers to connect with me on LinkedIn at and Facebook at

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Nathalie Weister of EPM Studio On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.