Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
helps you in your leadership.
Name: Claire Chandler
Organisation: Talent Boost
Claire Chandler’s core belief is that leaders shape cultures, and stronger cultures drive greater success. She specializes in aligning HR and business leaders so they can deliver strategic outcomes… both now and in the future. Leveraging nearly 30 years of experience in people leadership, human resources, and business ownership, Claire helps leadership teams work together more effectively in less time, with less cultural resistance, to accelerate business growth.
Claire’s services include thought partnership, leadership retreat facilitation, performance acceleration, executive and cohort coaching, strategic planning, organizational assessment and design, team dynamics and alignment, management team due diligence, and M&A integration and onboarding. Her clients include BASF, CSL Behring, Covance/LabCorp, Point32Health, Chick-fil-A, Blue Phoenix Group, Eco Recovery Solutions, and Nimbus Group.
Claire gets results because she’s easy to work with, cuts through the corporate clutter, and has a simple, proven approach to help leaders become culture builders.
One client sums up Claire perfectly: “Claire is always calm in a crisis, always finds creative ways to solve problems, and is always professional—but only when it’s necessary.”
Claire holds a certificate in strategic HR leadership from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, a master’s degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University. She has appeared as a guest on more than 100 podcasts, is the author of several books on leadership and business strategy, and is a contributing writer for Forbes.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
As a solopreneur who advises leaders of large, complex organizations, my greatest challenge is creating systems that enable me to scale, without "templatizing" what I do. I love to meet my clients where they are and help them travel along their unique journeys in easier and better ways, and I appreciate being able to do that by applying proven best practices in ways that remain fresh and innovative.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I've been managing teams for decades. But I became a "leader of self" in 2011, when I was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, I was an HR executive leading a great team as part of a global organization. Having to take time off work to deal with cancer forced me to stop outrunning the voice in my head that had been trying to ask, "Am I doing what I'm passionate about?" And while I loved my team and loved the company, I finally had to acknowledge that the answer was no. So I got healthy (cancer-free today!), quit my corporate job, and started my entrepreneurial journey along pathways that feel authentic to me and aligned to where I want to grow. Today, I help other leaders find their own aligned, authentic path.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I have trained myself NOT to reach for my phone as soon as I wake up. Instead, I wake up early(-ish), do some quick exercise, and spend 20-30 minutes in my favorite chair in my home: In my bedroom, by the window, overlooking the ocean. I use that time to reflect, to read, to pray, and to focus my mind on what's truly important. Then I have breakfast. After that, I typically spend an hour or so on higher-brain activities, such as roadmapping a program I'm developing or drafting some thought leadership content. Then I open my email, triage what's waiting for me, and jump into my day.
My workday might anywhere between 3 and 7 pm, depending on what zone I'm in. If I am in a state of "flow," I'll keep going. If I find that I'm distracted, stressed, or otherwise not energized, I will wrap up for the day. In the evening, I have a good dinner (or pasta - I love pasta), then chill in front of the TV for a bit. I love to read a good fiction novel before bed.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I work with a lot of leaders who struggle with the admission that they're not "charismatic." Some make the mistake of emulating leaders who are more charismatic than they are. And I remind them that copying someone else's style is never the smart move. Leaders who are truly "followable" don't need to be the most charismatic. They simply need to be authentic. So stay true to who you genuinely are, and lead with authenticity. THAT's what resonates.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. I was working with a leader whose team had started to fracture. She had asked me to facilitate a workshop to help the team rebuild trust. About a week before the workshop, I asked her to read Dare to Lead. Not only did it hit home for her, but she kicked off the workshop by demonstrating such vulnerability to her team, that they immediately dropped their defensive postures and leaned into the conversation. It was such a real reminder of the power of vulnerability.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Listen first; act second. It's too tempting when you're young and energetic to talk and act on your own passion and strategy. Go out and listen to your people first. Really listen. You might still move forward with the strategy you already had planned, but you will be able to deepen commitment to that strategy if you help people see a connection between what they told you and why it matters to where you collectively want to go.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
On my last night as a corporate HR leader, a group of my colleagues took me out to dinner. One of them was a young man I had hired out of the mail room several years prior to work as a recruiter on my team. As he walked me out of the restaurant, he got very emotional. He thanked me for taking a chance on him, and for helping him start his career in talent acquisition. He said, "You've made me into a better man." It was such a humbling reminder that we leaders impact the people around us in ways that we don't always get to see. It's an awesome and awe-filled responsibility.