Listening to the Pulse in Leadership: Nourishing Realistic Expectations and Intentionally Catalyzing Employee and Team Growth with Clint Calleja

It’s easy to overlook the power of listening to and reflecting on the pulse of the team, encouraging genuine connection and understanding. Before moving ahead towards our goals, why not take a moment to take a pulse of the collective team energy, ensuring alignment and fostering a more empathetic environment? 

As the Director of Engineering at Hotjar, Clint Calleja leads the engineering teams for the core features tribes, overseeing the development and delivery of web applications that help over 900,000 websites in 180+ countries understand and improve their user experience. With more than 16 years of experience, he has a proven track record of aligning, inspiring, and enabling others to succeed through communication, coaching, mentoring, and empowerment.

He uses a people-first, servant leadership approach and a data-driven, outcome-oriented mindset to guide teams and the organization towards achieving their goals and vision. His mission is to leverage his expertise in web applications, software development, and engineering leadership to create value for Hotjar’s customers, employees, and shareholders.

In this episode, Clint shares how embracing vulnerability isn’t a weakness; it’s a strength that deepens bonds and accelerates progress. Working for a remote and fully distributed company, he explains the challenges of written communication and how he listens and aligns understanding. He also shares practical tools he uses to listen to the pulse of his teams that might surprise you. Enjoy this very insightful and practical episode of the listening SUPERPOWER podcast.

 “By slowing down, digesting communication, and leading with authenticity, we not only achieve lasting results but also cultivate a more humane and fulfilling experience for all involved.”– Clint Calleja


00:38 – The moment he first noticed the power of listening: When someone was seeing me as a human being, being part of a team of people rather than just an employee

02:47 – Important perspective on this idea of ‘bringing your whole self to work’

05:02 – His approach to leading a team: I listen and I try to navigate between how many solutions I try to provide versus how much coaching and questioning and just nudging.

08:18 – Start the day with a simple pulse: We need to start with setting our self expectations.

14:07 – It’s okay to be vulnerable: The best way I can do that is to be transparent.

14:59 – What his younger self needs to know early on as he looks back in hindsight

15:53 – A coaching approach he uses to manage multiple teams: I’m going to make myself available, I’ll be able to listen, and I’ll be able to work with the individual.

20:45 – Tools he uses that supports listening even with people working remotely: What I found really helpful is journaling.

27:46 – How he organizes the observations he gathers from listening: It has to be quick; it’s a simple checklist for tasks and a checklist for observations.

33:11 – Perspective on how to approach feedback: It is a mindset change.

35:51 – Examples of how he executes his feedback process

39:01 – Advice to young generation leaders: I like to personally focus more on growth rather than promotions.

45:54 – The challenge to listening to written communication: You don’t have much visibility on the emotion

 47:48  – Explaining the concept of JOMO [Joy of Missing Out]

49:30 – The wisdom you find in asking question when in doubt

52:28 – Clint’s significant message: “…that investment overtime accrues to much quicker decision-making, much more empowered people growing into leads…”

Key Takeaways:

“Before we decide what we are trying to achieve today, before we understand how much time we have on the way, let’s start with a simple pulse: green, yellow, or red.” – Clint Calleja

“I keep reminding myself from time to time that it’s okay to be vulnerable, especially with people you’re working for.” – Clint Calleja

“I feel I need to know much less than I expected myself to in order to help people grow.” – Clint Calleja

“I apply the feedback on strengths that I observe, so it becomes more of an opportunity rather than a thing you’re doing wrong.” – Clint Calleja

“There’s power through connecting with people. – Clint Calleja


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