Natalie Ruhl tells what she thought leadership would look like when she was 8 years old, and how it’s not really like that.
I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful!
Charlotte Ward 0:14
Hello, and welcome to Episode 17 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. The topic for this week is transitioning to leadership with some personal perspectives. So let’s listen to five leaders talking about that very topic. Today I’d like to welcome back Natalie Ruhl. Natalie, thanks for coming back. And this week we’re talking about your personal story of transitioning to leadership.
Natalie Ruhl 0:43
Hi, Charlotte. Yeah, nice to be back. My story starts in a call centre-ish, working for a company that sells electronic goods of all shapes and forms and sizes. I was at university at the time and I wanted to take a break. So A friend of mine at the time was working in customer support for another team. And he was like, yeah, I’m always looking for people to sit on the phone. And I went there. I really liked the company. I like the people. And very quickly, I found that I really liked it. You know, it wasn’t always easy. Sometimes people got very loud and yelled at you. And I didn’t know how to deal with that. I had a manager so to speak, that person really wasn’t really there for me. They didn’t really do anything apart from look at how many tickets I’ve done, or how many calls I’d answered. I didn’t know how to develop. I didn’t know what to do. It was just all about must reach x tickets and x phone calls by the end of the week. Quality even wasn’t something that was looked at at the time.
Charlotte Ward 1:45
Yeah, I’m not aware that quality existed as a programme 10 years ago, I created a small spreadsheet about 10 years ago. And it actually served its purpose really well.
Natalie Ruhl 1:57
Absolutely. And then something funny happened. The company started to get into eBay and Amazon. And that’s when quality became hugely important. You know, people all of a sudden could leave reviews for your products. I want to say the first time that I really experienced real leadership was when I got put into a team with a colleague of mine, calling people to ask them to revert their reviews. And we got terrified because we knew these were people wouldn’t be very happy when you call them. She was very seasoned. And she kind of took me by the hand. She even though she wasn’t my manager or anything, she was the person who helped to like develop a plan. We work together very, very well. And I think this was the first time when I saw that you know, someone that can help you motivate yourself, share the burden or like the vision of what you want to achieve or have to achieve. I wanted to develop further in this company. And they told me No. And I was 23. And I thought, No, I don’t think…
Charlotte Ward 2:57
It wasn’t what you’d always dreamed of them.
Natalie Ruhl 2:59
No. You know, I didn’t really see myself there grey haired, glasses and I really wanted to learn more.
Charlotte Ward 3:06
I want you to tell your twinset story! Did that desire to be more involved in the business and to learn more on the business side, come only once you started that journey and customer support, or did you have earlier aspirations?
Natalie Ruhl 3:23
You’re pushing for that story!
Charlotte Ward 3:26
I know the story that’s why!
Natalie Ruhl 3:29
Thinking back to this, like my early aspirations of being in the workforce, were just really organised. I wanted to be an organised person that does something that is helpful to others and that kind of like get things in order. And so yes, this person in my head was were wearing a twin set and they and like, my biggest wish for my sixth or eighth birthday was to get a clipboard and a briefcase. That’s what I really wanted because I, you know, it helped to like keep track of things and write lists, which I love. Thinking about that role in hindsight is that that role didn’t have any power. You know, it’s more of like “Ooh a problem gonna go there fix it so that nobody’s bothered”. It was more of like a role of like a fixer.
Charlotte Ward 4:16
Yeah, like, like you said, you said to me once you know it was perhaps the assistant to the CEO that you were perhaps picturing some sort of Doris Day in an office, who really has everything organised, but not necessarily any of the real decision-making. You’re right. I did want this story. And it’s a shame our listeners can’t see how much I’m trying to stifle a giggle because I told my story on three separate occasions, but I just wanted them to have it as well, because I think it’s hilarious!
Natalie Ruhl 4:44
It’s a true story, but it couldn’t be further from, from what everything really looked like at the time, as I said, like I didn’t have a manager. So even when I then finally moved on to a new gig, if I didn’t have a manager that would kind of Do a one on one situation with me or, you know, even be remotely interested in how I felt it was more of like, what have you gotten done when I became a leader in a further role and started to like, build out my own teams, I didn’t know a lot, you know, I kind of only knew what worked for me. And I expected that to work for others as well. Err, surprise, doesn’t! how you communicate is important. And so I learned in a very, very harsh crash course in one of my first leadership roles – apologies to people in my team that were like, What is she doing like?
Charlotte Ward 5:42
Casualties by the roadside!
Natalie Ruhl 5:46
Like rabbits and in a lab, you know, it’s like.
Charlotte Ward 5:48
One thing that we have talked about before is seeking out things that will allow you to develop your skills and your profile at the same time. Did you do anything of that nature?
Natalie Ruhl 6:01
Yes, I think it’s very much in my nature, I will go out and find interesting things to get involved in and what has been really helpful that is really finding out that often, people are happy if you get involved, you know,
Charlotte Ward 6:15
But I think I think that’s great advice, though, isn’t it whether you’re already a leader or whether you really are looking to expand down the business either into leadership or to deepen a skill set is actually don’t be afraid to go out and find things to get involved in. One final question. Did you ever get the twin set?
Natalie Ruhl 6:32
Yes. I did.
Charlotte Ward 6:37
That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/17 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.
A little disclaimer about the podcast, blog interviews and articles on this site: the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text and podcast belong solely to the author or interviewee, and not necessarily to any employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.