Heartstyles blog

One Heart at a Time: Gabe's story of leadership development


Sandra Bullen – Marketing & Communications Director

Restaurant General Manager from KFC Florida, Gabe Terrell spoke to us about his experience of Virtual Leading with Heart: ‘It felt like we were all sitting in one room. If one person talked, you got to see their face. You still got to hear personal stories and it was still very effective. The breakout rooms help you to know each other and learn from each other’s experiences. It was a good chance to meet new people and learn about their personal struggles or their KFC struggles, because you might be going through the same thing.’

He goes on to say:

‘It was really cool. I thought it was a good experience for me. You learn different stories from other managers. You might be going through the same problem that they bring up, but you might not have the courage to say it in front of everybody else. So, they might have answered your question without even knowing it.’

Before finding out what Heartstyles was all about, Gabe admits that he wasn’t sure what to expect: ‘Before I knew anything about Heartstyles, I thought, is this going to be like a therapy session? You know, because 2020 has been a crazy year. I just didn’t honestly know what it was. That first week when the facilitator explained more about the programme, I realised it was more about becoming a better version of yourself. The best version of yourself you could possibly be.’ 

A definite key moment for Gabe was receiving his Heartstyles Indicator report, especially the feedback from his peers. This helped him realise that sometimes he would avoid tackling confrontation head-on in an attempt to avoid conflict:

‘What I got most out of it was when we got the results of what other people think about you, that’s a real eye opener. Either you’re prepared for that wake-up call or you’re not. My results weren’t exactly what I was expecting so for me this is a motivational tool that I use to just become better.’

As a restaurant general manager, Gabe deals with team members across different areas of the business and others rely on him to solve any issues which may be affecting the day-to-day running of branches. This means that he has to act fast and at times make tough decisions. That’s why he was really keen to work on his avoiding behaviours so he could improve his management style while growing, encouraging and developing himself and those around him: ‘I can feel it in myself, I can tell a difference, if I see something [now], I’m going to act on it. I’m going to say something instead of letting it go.’

He also feels that he learnt more about sarcastic behaviours and how they can put brakes on his relationships, both at work and closer to home: ‘I’ve been trying hard with sarcasm. I never want to hurt anyone or anything. I just kind of use it almost like a comedy tool so I’ve been trying to get better at that. Even with my texting, for example, I’ll have a paragraph that I’m getting ready to send and I’ll be like, no delete that, and send a three word answer instead of a full smart aleck sentence.’

And what advice would he give to others who haven’t experienced Heartstyles yet? He believes that if someone goes through the programme, it’s important to be open about their own and other people’s experiences:

‘I would just say that you have to have an open mind. That’s the first thing that you have to do with Heartstyles. You have to be willing to take the session and be open about everything and you have to be able to understand what everyone else is going through. There were a couple of managers who had their families going through Covid, while others had family members dealing with sickness and they actually talked about that in session. So, I mean if they feel comfortable enough to share that information, I feel like it’s definitely a decent programme. When someone feels comfortable enough to share that kind of information to 30 people that you don’t know then I think the programme’s doing something right.’ 

Ready to start your own Heartstyles journey? Contact us.