People of LifeWorks: Yolanda Fasciano
The purpose of a true people leader is to nurture strengths and diversity.
Building leaders that build future leaders.
Yolanda Fasciano, Director, Product Management, at LifeWorks believes the purpose of a true people leader is to channel an individual’s passion, identify their strengths, and inspire their own leadership skills, so that they can do their best work. We sat down with Yolanda to dive into her philosophy on talent, leadership and product management.
As a leader of people, strategy and products, how would you describe your approach to these three pillars?
My approach is really driven by purpose; LifeWorks is a global organization driven by a massively impactful purpose. We are on a mission to improve 1 billion lives by bringing them the mental health and wellbeing services and support they need. As a result, there has to be a clear, cohesive, and unified perspective across our people, structure and products. Everyone who works feels connected to the mission, vision and values, and understands the impact of the services we offer. Feeling driven and empowered by our purpose knowing that you are coming to work every day to help people we likely will never meet is critical to our success.
For me, competitive advantage comes from people. It might sound cliche, but it’s not. One can think about how advanced a technology solution or product is, but I believe that distinct advantage – the kind of advantage that is hard to replicate - comes from building a team of people who are unique, have a variety of different skills, who care about the work they do and about each other, who bring different perspectives and come together to innovate and deliver value - that’s competitive.
How do you show up for your team?
I wake up every day to lead. I also feel that I’m not a leader until I build a leader that can develop a leader. With that in mind, I take the time to uncover what is unique about the people on my team and work to unlock their potential and try to set them on a path that helps them grow. I also believe that there is value in exposing and sharing opportunities with people that they might not have thought was possible for them; something that was done for me by my leaders and now I’m paying it forward.
Being a leader and mentor and fostering a growth mindset means having a level of flexibility, but also taking some calculated risks and being open to new ways of learning and leading. I feel strongly about experimentation and fostering a space where you can try new things, fail fast and safely - and share the outcomes, whatever they may be.
As a leader, I see my success through the success of others, so if I can build future leaders who can do the same, I’ve done my job. As someone who is committed to lifelong learning I invest regularly in taking courses to expand my people management and leadership skills to serve my team as the best leader I can be. I’m motivated to support my team in whatever ways work for them. As a result, I am also committed to sharing my vulnerabilities in order to show up as an authentic leader.
Finally, I laugh and make laughter a priority. I work to ensure our team has the opportunity to laugh together every so often. It is easy to get caught up in delivery, status updates and releases, but laughter is a really great connector and has a positive impact on wellbeing and experience at work, so why not!
How do you foster an environment people want to be part of?
One important aspect is a focus on fit. Can you imagine wearing shoes that don’t fit every day? You aren’t going to show up as your best self, willing to walk the extra mile. So finding the right style and fit is critical. That’s how I think of career development and why I prioritize asking questions like, “What are the conditions that help you create your best work?” in interviews with candidates as well as periodically with my own team. And the next step is really to listen, learn or take action, depending on what is shared.
The second is I recognize individual differences and capabilities within a large team that come together to form a highly influential group. We all work with the same craft and methodology, but everyone brings something unique to share with peers and leaders. Every person has a superpower and should be allowed to shine a light on their personal strengths, and I’m here to ensure it’s brought forward by trying to match people to products and portfolio areas that are a great fit and that won’t dim the light.
What is your approach to engagement?
As a leader, I ask myself, “Are people engaged socially, with their work and the organization? How can I make sure they stay connected and continue to grow?” How do you create a model where people and teams help to design and take ownership of their own engagement too?
It is hard to think about engagement without thinking about learning; I feel strongly about the learn-share-apply process. I have to learn, be willing to teach others and put it into practice. I’ve had great leaders whom I’ve benefited from and an incredible mentor that took a really personalized approach and helped shape my career. In return, I want to create the space for individuals to thrive here as part of our mission to help improve 1 billion lives.
To build inclusive products that truly have an impact, our teams need to be deep listeners; in turn we as leaders need to be too. People who think differently are going to change the world and it is a collective of individuals who think differently, and who can come together in a purpose-driven and focused way, that will benefit all of us - and the people we serve. As a leader, especially in product, the diversity of your people is your true advantage; people who bring different ideas, tools, techniques, perspectives and come together to build and deliver quality products with integrity.
I am incredibly proud of our work at LifeWorks, knowing we have a responsibility to employers to help their people. As a Product team, we are responsible for building the next generation of solutions and leaders that will keep innovating and having an impact. If building products with purpose, experimentation, and inclusion sounds interesting to you, please consider applying to LifeWorks.