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Leading With Empathy: How Antonio Dominguez Is Putting People First

June 17, 2021

Whether you are managing five or fifty people, a leader is responsible for the outputs and outcomes of the group. So, what does this mean? It’s important as a manager to have a personal connection to the people you’re working with and the work they are doing. You need to have some skin in the game or a deeper ‘why’ to your desire to lead.

That is exactly what makes Antonio Dominguez, a Team Manager in our Client Services organization, a standup associate and person. Below, he’s sharing about how he came into his leadership role at Gartner and the lessons he’s learned along the way. 

I joined the team about six years ago – and what a journey it’s been. Over the course of my Gartner career, I had the opportunity to work as a Senior Client Manager, which was an individual contributor role. In February 2020, I was promoted into my current leadership role. I now manage a team of five.  Shortly after my promotion, we all began to work remotely which brought about its own unique set of challenges.

Over the past few months, I’ve worked closely with my team to ensure they feel supported, confident and comfortable as we navigate the global COVID-19 pandemic together. There’s no road map or exact science on how to do this, but I am sharing a few of my biggest takeaways below. 

Find your ‘why’

My advice? Don’t take a leadership role if you’re not sincerely passionate about people. If you’re doing it for yourself, whether it be a title change or salary increase, instead of doing it to help, guide, and mentor others, you won’t see success for your team or yourself. Finding that deeper purpose will keep you motivated to drive the team towards their goals. 

Get comfortable with the uncomfortable

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was “If it’s not making you uncomfortable, it’s not changing you or helping you grow.”

I take this perspective into consideration when thinking about how I lead my team. Am I seeing things through a new lens? Am I taking others’ perspectives into consideration? How am I continuing to grow and better myself for the benefit of my team? Being able to accept what you don’t know and iterate lets your team know that you’re willing to put the work in.

Vulnerability leads to trust

In order to successfully lead a group of people, they need to trust you fully. Trust that you have their backs, that you’ll advocate on their behalf and celebrate their wins. It’s important to show them your true self – flaws and all – to establish trust and build rapport. For my team, trust has been instrumental to our success as we’ve transitioned to remote work. My team knows I trust them to execute their goals and they trust me to guide them when needed. 

Lead with compassion and empathy

Oftentimes team leaders feel disconnected from the day-to-day of individual contributors. I make it a point to let my team members dictate the agendas of our 1:1 meetings. We use the scheduled time to talk about whatever they want – personal or professional – so that they feel heard and supported. You have to be able to meet your people in the middle. Recognizing their struggles and making an effort to understand their challenges helps keep morale up.  

Humility will go a long way

I always tell my kids that your true character is defined by who you are when no one is looking. Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and do the work when you’re not being praised? I may not always be perfect, but I’m always there to support my team in whatever they need. For me, collaboration and teamwork go a long way. I never want my team to feel as if I’m not there to support them. It’s easy to lose touch with your roots and how you started the higher you go on the corporate ladder. Staying humble and hungry makes a real difference when it comes to earning respect. 

Listen to understand, not to be understood

I think a lot of people will take leadership roles to act as task managers or deadline reinforcers. It’s important to remember that people will actually tell you what they need from you. Lots of times, people are just waiting for someone to take the time to listen to what they have to say. Whether it’s coaching, guidance or support – your team will vocalize their needs. You have to make sure you’re there intently listening when they do. 

Interested in joining a team like Antonio’s? Learn more about our Client Services organization here

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