How can we lead through challenging times?


The hybrid/remote work environment has shifted the nature of work over the last few years…


It takes remarkable adaptability to help a team navigate these new challenges and get results.


In this episode, I’m joined by Leesa Eichberger, SVP of corporate marketing at RingCentral.


Leesa will share her wisdom on managing hybrid/remote teams—and how leaders can ensure their people are cared for.


Mentioned in this episode:



Voiceover: This is Performance Delivered, Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success with Steffen Horst and Dave Antil.


Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they build successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. 


The topic for today’s episode is leading through challenging times. Here to speak with me is Leesa Eichberger, who is the SVP of Corporate Marketing at RingCentral, a leading provider of business telecommunications, and contact center solutions based on its powerful message, voice, phone. Leesa started her career in advertising, where she developed a passion for brands and storytelling. 


She brings the passion to the brand’s she markets, fostering a performance oriented culture and developing breakthrough creative materials that drive results. In industries ranging from technology to insurance to weight loss, Leesa has proven that great marketing transcends category, and that great communications springs from understanding customer needs. Leesa, welcome to the show. 


Leesa Eichberger: Thanks for having me, Steffen. 


Steffen: Now, Leesa, before we start talking about today’s topic, tell our listeners a little bit more about yourself. How did you get started in your career? And what led you to being the SVP of Corporate Marketing at RingCentral?


Leesa: Well, good question. Yeah, I have always had a passion for kind of advertising, marketing, and communications. And in fact, my mom tells stories about me singing jingles in my sleep as a child. You have it your way, have it your way at Burger King, or however you sing it. I obviously do not have a singing career. But yeah, as just a child I was always kind of obsessed with marketing. And so when I started my career, I went into an ad agency job. 


And I spent about oh, I don’t know, eight years or so in the agency world, and then transitioned over to being a client. My first job was at Pacific Bell Mobile Services, which is now became Cingular, then became AT&T. I kind of worked my way through the different types of marketing opportunities and marketing roles. 


And I love marketing. And I think that’s been one of the things about my career that’s been a lot of fun is I’ve had an opportunity to try a lot of different categories. I mean, as you said, in your little preamble, I’ve worked in kind of industry agnostic, what has been called even a mosaic background of brands. 


So your telco, weight loss, insurance, I’m now in the UCaaS space. And I’m a really, really big believer that great marketing has more to do with understanding your customer and understanding your customer needs than it does with being category specific. So I think great marketing can come from anyone who really gets the customer.


Steffen: Interesting. Now, obviously, the last few years have been very challenging, you know, COVID came up that kind of changed the entire environment how companies do business, right. All of a sudden, people worked remote, and people had to set up that entire environment of how are we getting the most out of people when they’re not with us in one office, right. From your perspective, what were the biggest challenges throughout the last three years as this environment or as the business environment changed?


Leesa: Yeah, I think the biggest challenge has been making sure that people are cared for. And I think that’s been one of the things that it’s easy to think about the business. And the business world has been, I mean, it’s been crazy. You know, we’ve seen massive growth. And now we’re in the midst of, you know, potentially a recession and the macro economic environment has shifted so dramatically.


And customer or, excuse me, brands, we saw that, especially the tech brands hire like crazy because of the needs for technology being accelerated in those early days of COVID. And now we’re seeing those needs kind of shrink back down as sales cycles are taking longer and as the world is shifting. 


The part of it that I think has been one of the biggest challenges, though, is there are people behind all of that. And how we deal with those people and how we manage through these shifts, is what I think is allowing some companies to thrive, or at least their employees to thrive and others not to do quite as well. 


Steffen: Yeah, yeah.


Leesa: You know, one of the things I have focused on is making sure that I’m remembering individuals and not just teams and how different individuals work. I mean, there were some funny memes floating around at the beginning of COVID that were like, you know, introverts check on your extrovert friends. They’re not doing okay, right now. And there’s some truth to that. I mean, some people like being around people, some people don’t. And this has been a really big shift for those people who really like to be around people.


Steffen: Yeah, I totally hear you. I mean, you know, I’ve been working remote now since 2013. But when I worked in an agency environment, I always went to work two days a week from home because you know, you have your office becomes a revolving door. People come in and out and you don’t get things done just because you know, your team comes to you. 


And these two days, I always thought it would be great, I can focus on things that can get much more done. Now, I’ve been working almost 10 years from home, I’m actually missing that element of having people around me, you know. I’m missing actually being in the office for two or three days to do that. 


And I’m an introvert, you know, but what you said makes total sense. Now, you talked about caring for people. Let’s talk a little more about that. What is your approach, or what do you think about when you talk about caring for people? How do you care for people that are not close to you, so that they’re not sitting to you, where you don’t see kind of that they might not be well. 


Whether that’s physically or with what they’re doing, that they’re not getting what you want from them, etc. And they might, because they’re introverts might not even communicate with you that they don’t get what you want them to do.


Leesa: Right. I think it’s upping your game on some of those things that we all know, are the right thing to do. So you know, when you’ve got direct reports, it’s being religious with your one on one communications, you know, scheduling time to meet weekly, bi-weekly, whatever that might be. So that you get to know the people beyond you know, it doesn’t have to be super personal, because some people don’t want to be personal at work. 


But it does need to be that you know, the ins and outs of the people. And then when you’re on that, you know, Hollywood Squares of a video conference, making sure that you’re engaging everyone. You know, there are people in live conference rooms, and in these virtual conference rooms, who are quiet. 


And in, I think in the virtual world it’s easier for them to get shut out because you’re missing the verbal cues. They lean forward a little bit to speak, and you’re missing it. So being very conscious of you know, who are your extroverts, who are your introverts, who dominate the conversation, you know, who needs to be pulled into the conversation and bringing them along. And then again, you know, that one on one time, it’s hard on your calendar. You know, as a leader, I’ve different periods, I’ve had a lot of direct reports. 


Sometimes I’ve had a few sometimes I’ve had, I mean, you know, 15, and scheduling time for each one of them. And even the skip levels, where you get to know the people under them is hard. But at the same time it is I think, what makes people feel heard, and it helps them be human in a time when we’re very isolated.


Steffen: Yeah. I mean, from my perspective, I always felt and feel, it’s really important to understand who the people are that work for you, right? That are your direct reports. It’s like, what makes them move or, you know, how do you motivate them? You know, there are people as you said, there are introverts and extroverts, people are motivated by different things. People are impacted by different things. 


Once you understand the people that work with you, for you and your teams, they all need different ways of how you approach them, and how you pull them in. And understanding that, from my perspective, makes you a good leader, because then your approach is tailored to each individual person in your team, not kind of a blanket all approach that hopefully takes a few of the people in.


Leesa: Right and what you’re saying, I think is exactly what makes good leaders. I think it’s easier to do it naturally and kind of organically in a live environment. There’s a lot more, there’s just we’re missing a whole set of visual cues that are natural to communication. And by taking those away, it has to be almost forced and disciplined in how you go about your daily checking in, your reviews, your understanding of what’s going on in people’s lives.


Steffen: Yeah, the hybrid or remote work environment, from my perspective is easier for more senior people than it is for junior people. Reason being obviously, we as senior people or even mid level people, they have been around they have worked with other people before in offices, etc. They know how certain things have to get done, or what they have to do to get things done. 


But when you have juniors, people that are fresh out of college, also depending on their, on their personality, right? They might struggle in this remote work environment because they might need guidance, right? If you have an introvert that doesn’t tell you that he or she is lost, it’s going to be probably hard for you to get those cues by just being on one to one on a video call. 


Or even if you’re not that often with that person on a call, it will be even harder. So from your perspective in this new setup that we are operating in, do you have any thoughts on how to develop people so junior people, people that come from college that don’t have much experience, but they still need to be skilled up to be a valuable workforce for any company.


Leesa: Yeah, I think it goes back to intentionality if that’s a word. There are a few situations. The one you bring up is a really good one. I mean, we’ve got a whole gang of kids who lost their senior years of high school or who lost some years of college and they haven’t been I want to say socialized but you know, maybe that’s not quite the right word, but they haven’t had the same sort of opportunity to learn the interaction and the give and take. 


We also have masses of people who started new jobs in a COVID period or a period of complete remote work. And like you said, senior people probably are more adaptable in some ways than your junior people. But I think it really goes back to that intentionality that you’re making sure that people meet the right people when they start a new job, that they have actual coaching and have opportunities to learn how to do their job. 


And it adds another layer to what’s already, I think, a challenging time for some people, which is either starting a job as a senior person, mid level person, or especially as a junior person. And yeah, I am appreciative that we’re moving back to most environments a little bit more hybrid. 


But it’s, it’s something that I think we’re all still learning the ropes, and it’s gonna be really, really important that our HR departments and our kind of people departments are thinking about culture, and they’re thinking about how to engage people. And it’s not just going to be business as usual. And I think there’s certain companies that will be able to really, to thrive in this environment because of that.


Steffen: What skills do modern leaders need to have to manage hybrid and remote teams?


Leesa: Yeah, I mean, the skills that I think come to mind, for me are an extra layer of empathy, that maybe wasn’t as necessary. And I think, you know, as a people, we are moving toward more empathetic workplaces anyhow. There’s been a lot more focus on culture, there’s been a lot more focus on mental health and on work life balance, if that’s really a thing, you know. That’s to be more of a pendulum. 


But there’s more focus on bringing your authentic self to work. And I think all of those things work together to make for a modern leader who understands the people, understands a little bit more who their employees are, and allows them to be who they really are in their hearts, as in addition to, you know, their ability to just be kind of worker bees. 


And we’re not quite where we were, I think, years back where it was all about, you know, being a cog in the wheel. Everybody is needing, we need people to be whole people at work. And there’s more appreciation, I think, for diversity and for diversity of thought and bringing diverse ideas together to come up with better thinking on the whole.


Steffen: Interesting. Now, you said earlier, first we had COVID, now we’re kind of moving into potentially a recession. So it’s kind of the business environment is changing rapidly, right. So as you said, first, a lot of people were hired, because there was a need for additional support staff and etc. Now people are let go. I mean, that creates uncertainty within teams. 


Like, what’s going to happen to me, you know, am I going to be the next one that is going to be let go? Is my job secure, etc. What are some ways you can reassure or marketing leaders can assure their teams to kind of help them go through these phases of change?


Leesa: I think it’s a time when extra communication is necessary. Clarity of goals becomes really, really important. And making sure that the overarching goals, they may shift, but ideally, a company is thinking about the big picture, always right. The term falls into the business bingo, but the North Star is always kind of the North Star. And then being really, really consistent with regular communication with, you know, whether that’s all hands meetings, or if that’s whatever works for the environment you’re in. 


But you’re talking to the individuals who are leaders, talking to the people who are people leaders, and then talking to the overarching team and reassuring them that as much as you can, that, you know, yes, we’re going through a period of change, but the goals for the business are the goals for the business. 


And we’re going to be marching toward those goals. I think, you know, over communication of the right information, you don’t have to tell everybody everything all at once, but being very communicative. People will create stories in an absence of information. So better to lead the narrative and ensure that you know, what people are hearing is at least the story that is the cohesive story from the business.


Steffen: How do you adjust that for individuals? I mean, that’s a little bit what you talked about is more kind of a general communication kind of from a top company level, all hands and those kinds of things, right? But how do you do that in more one to one situations? Because again, as we talked earlier, individuals are different. They all kind of are motivated and kind of pull things differently out of what is being said. So how do we do it on a one to one level to keep them focused and keep them positive?


Leesa: Yeah, I’m a big believer in, you know, hiring really good people and allowing them to do their jobs. So, you know, I really try to say, you know, here’s our business problem, here’s what we’re solving for. How do you think we should go about this? And working with them. So here’s our overarching challenge, you know, whether that’s the macroeconomic shifts, or the need to drive more revenue, or whatever it might be. 


Your role in this, you are the person who is in charge of x, how do you think you can contribute more to that, and what is your plan? And then how do we roll that out? And then bounce the ideas back and forth. And I find that works with you, especially more so with leaders, with your more junior staff members, you sometimes have to be a little more prescriptive of, you know, try X, Y, and Z. 


Or have you thought about these things? Versus saying, you know, how would you do it? But you know, giving people the autonomy, within kind of some guardrails is something that has worked well for me. And yes, some employees require a little more hand holding than others, some want to have more conversation, some want to go off and think on their own. 


And kind of respecting the way people work, especially again, in this hybrid environment where you can’t, I like to, I love to write on the wall. And the whiteboard to me is like the perfect, it’s just how I think. I scribble on the wall, and I’ve got in my home office, I’ve got a mirror that is covered in scribbles with, they make a dry erase pen that works on a mirror. 


That helps me think. That’s not how everyone works. But you know, for the team meeting, that’s always been great for me, and I do it on conference calls. Even if someone’s not with me, it just helps me. And I try to remember that you’re not again, not everyone thinks the same way.


Steffen: Yeah, that makes sense. Now, how can leaders prepare themselves for these moments of change? Does it make sense to work off a plan? If so, what would that look like?


Leesa: That’s a great question. You know, the plans sometimes have to be tossed out, I think it gets back to kind of the, the business Northstar, you and I talked a little bit about this a little a few minutes ago. I’m a triathlete. And one of the I’ve done a couple of Ironman races, I’m not doing that level of competition anymore. 


But I look at work very often, like training for an Ironman. It is an impossible task when you start the idea of what that right. It’s, you know, it’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26 mile run, and you go, ahh, undoable. But when you start the training process, you put, like, kind of the pieces together, and it’s, how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time. I think of big, audacious business goals in very much the same way. 


Because you have to put all the pieces together and have a plan to get to something, but you’re gonna get derailed. I mean, when you’re training for a triathlon, I have a job, right? I’ve gone a business trip for a week, I twisted my ankle, I tweaked my knee, whatever things shift and change. So the plan has to be able to be worked around, and you know, and be flexible, with the end goal continuing to be the same. 


So when you know, when you’re building plans with leaders, it’s the same sort of thing. Kind of the building blocks. I don’t, I don’t personally put together Gantt charts myself, but the idea of that is very much a way to kind of just get things done, and having some structure I think is always good. 


And in my case, I like to make sure I have someone on my team who’s good at that structure and saying, hey, you know, we needed to be at that, you know, that milestone by x date. We missed it. How are we going to make that milestone. Because once you miss a few, you start getting in trouble for the end goal.


Steffen: Yeah, yeah. What I’m hearing is basically just break things up first to start off with, right? Don’t look at it like, as you said, from a triathlon perspective, well, in summer, I have to do this triathlon with these three different, you know, disciplines. And that together is like, you know, a huge mountain to climb, right? But if I kind of break it out, it’s like, okay, let’s do the practicing the cycling, or I don’t know, if it works like that, right. 


Start cycling first. Kind of get into rhythm there. Then do the swimming then do the running etcetera. It’s much more manageable, and it’s probably, not probably, it’s the same from a business perspective, right? You have an end goal, how do you achieve that end goal is you put milestones in place, that is kind of your checkpoints, right? 


And how you get to that milestone might sometimes change because of outside factors that you might not be able to control, right. And if you have a certain flexibility there that allows you on the way to adjust how you approach certain things, your milestone or your goal is still the same, but how you get there might actually change.


Leesa: I think it’s actually, it’s less even those milestones being linear. They’re parallel, right? I think, be it a triathlon, or be it business. A lot of those things aren’t linear, you can’t do X and then Y. Some of them have to be because they build on each other. But you know, to your point, you wouldn’t train for triathlon, you wouldn’t train just for bicycling, and then just for running and then just for swimming. You have to be doing all of them kind of simultaneously. And that’s like getting your teams aligned and having them work together to build towards things.


Steffen: And that’s, I think it’s also good when you have, when you pass on responsibility to the people that report to you, right? You don’t have to think about how do I solve this current challenge that just popped up, right? That’s why they are in certain positions, have a certain knowledge, get paid a certain amount, et cetera, to come up with solutions to you, and then you kind of this looks great, or let’s talk about it. But if you would have to kind of take care of all of that, that then become, again, a problem that’s probably quite difficult to manage or to overcome.


Leesa: Yeah, it’s interesting, that is something that I think was one of the biggest kind of learnings for me, as a young manager or younger manager, and that I see people grow into is that the understanding that not everyone will ever be an expert in every single topic. And you know, the more senior you get in your career, in some cases, the more of a generalist you need to be. And more understanding how to motivate people, how to set goals, how to hit goals, than you need to know how to do the exact, you know, create this little thing that creates that little thing. It’s an interesting balance of specificity versus generalism.


Steffen: Yeah, it’s important that you have the overview, and you understand what’s going on, but the in depth knowledge, that’s where you have people underneath you that are the expert in those areas, and that can kind of contribute to the overall picture.


Leesa: And I think it’s very freeing at a certain point to realize you don’t have to be perfect at everything. That’s why you hire good people. That’s what leadership involves is hiring great people and then trusting them to do their jobs.


Steffen: Yeah. Now, what are some do’s and don’ts you would highlight in regards to you know, managing hybrid and remote teams?


Leesa: Some do’s and don’ts? Yeah, I think the biggest do is regular communication. You know, for me, there’s consistency in communication. That’s a biggie. I think a don’t is allowing, I don’t want to allow people to disappear. Again, there are certain people, yes, they’ve got their head down, they’re getting their job done. But they still need to be spoken to, connected with, engaged. 


Another do is ensuring that quiet people on the video conferences, in particular, have an opportunity to speak, and are given that forum to voice their opinions. And that’s the same in a conference room. I mean, you often have someone quiet off to the side that probably has the best idea in the room. 


But there’s maybe they’re a perfectionist and don’t want to speak until they’ve got it exactly right. So the do is bringing people in and engaging, engaging folks that belong in the room. I’m also a very big believer, if you’re not going to contribute in a meeting, you shouldn’t be in the meeting. 


So those giant meetings of too many people, I think we’ve over indexed towards that in a hybrid or remote environment, because you’re so afraid, at least for some of us are being left out that you want to be in every meeting, because you’re not hearing the hallway buzz. So having the right people in the room, and then making sure that they’re all engaged.


Steffen: Yeah. Although I have to say with more junior people, I like them sometimes to be in those meetings, because they can observe and hear what the more senior people talk about. And that’s kind of, if they soak that information up, it helps them to grow, too.


Leesa: Right. That’s a great point. I think it’s a balance, right? And you can’t have your calendar filled with just meetings where you’re observing, but you also absolutely, with the more junior folks, you know, learning by example can be so important, and can really help people to get how to even communicate. I mean, you know you were talking earlier about people straight out of college, some of them have probably never been in a room like. They don’t know, they don’t know what the etiquette even is. And that stuff that to us is just part of doing business is a whole new learning experience.


Steffen: Exactly. Well, Leesa, thank you so much for joining me on the Performance Delivered podcast and sharing your knowledge on how to lead through challenging times. If people want to find out more about you, about RingCentral, how can they get in touch?


Leesa: Well, I’m on LinkedIn. My name is my calling card there on LinkedIn. That’s probably the best way and then obviously, you know for more information about our business, and those are the easiest ways.


Steffen: Perfect. Well, as always, we’ll leave that information in the show notes. Thanks, everyone for listening. If you like the Performance Delivered podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.


Voiceover: Performance Delivered is sponsored by Symphonic Digital. Discover audience-focused and data-driven digital marketing solutions for small and medium businesses at