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E345 - A mother-daughter team's unique take to empower individuals and unleash organizations’ potential | with Anne Dranitsaris & Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard
Episode 34516th June 2023 • The One Big Tip Podcast with Jeff Mendelson • Everyone has that One Big Tip!
00:00:00 00:21:01


Dr. Anne Dranitsaris and Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard, a mother-daughter team, bring a wealth of knowledge, insight, and experience to their work with individual clients and client organizations. Whether it’s by teaching leaders how to lead and engage their people, dismantling dysfunctions caused by misalignment of efforts, or helping individuals empower themselves by breaking free from Imposter Syndrome or Codependent dysfunctional patterns. Anne and Heather take people and organizations beyond the limits of self-defeating behavior. They are dedicated to empowering individuals, leaders, and organizations to achieve their potential by leveraging their expertise in the neurobiology of human development combined with a system thinking approach. Anne and Heather have worked with thousands of leaders and individuals from around the world, been featured in dozens of publications, spoken at professional conferences, and written several series of books. 

Anne had to give up her child for adoption at birth, but they were reunited years later when Heather was 27. Despite the time apart, they discovered that they shared a strong interest in helping people achieve their potential. While Heather worked in organizations as part of a large human resources consulting firm, Anne worked with individuals as a psychotherapist and corporate coach. They realized that by combining their expertise, they could drive meaningful change in organizations by putting the people's side of things together with a systems thinking approach. This led to creation of a powerful partnership that served both organizations and the people within them.

Anne and Heather have a unique method that they use in their work with clients. They approach everything from a developmental perspective, meeting their clients where they are and tailoring their approach to each individual's needs. They don't impose a one-size-fits-all system on any problem, but rather look at who the human beings are in the organization and measure what they can tolerate from a developmental perspective. This approach allows them to find out where people are stuck and get them back on their developmental trajectory toward their potential. Their partnership combines Anne's background in psychotherapy with Heather's experience in organizational systems, making them uniquely equipped to drive successful change initiatives in organizations.

Their work is distinctive because they approach everything from a developmental perspective, meeting their clients where they are and discovering what they need to grow along that developmental trajectory. They rely heavily on personality type and emotional drivers to understand why individuals behave a certain way and to develop the right approach for each client.

Anne's approach to leadership development is focused on identifying the progression of a given behavior as organizations and individuals age. Unlike others who impose a fixed system on all problems, she believes in meeting her clients where they are. This is done by assessing the collective leadership style and identifying gaps that may lead to dysfunctions. Anne emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence in self-awareness and organizational awareness. Through testing and feedback from employees, she helps leaders recognize the impact of their behavior on their organization. By understanding their emotional drivers and behaviors, leaders can overcome their limitations and grow toward their full potential.

Heather, the co-founder of the Striving Styles Personality System, stresses the importance of understanding one's brain organization to achieve personal growth and leadership development. In contrast to a one-size-fits-all approach, Heather highlights the significance of starting from one's natural strengths and inherent challenges to attain authentic and effective leadership. Heather shares the difference in her leadership style from her mother Anne's style, emphasizing the need for self-awareness to identify one's starting point. Without this understanding, individuals may struggle, develop bad habits, or feel inadequate. 

Anne emphasizes the importance of shifting from a subjective to an objective perspective when dealing with problems at work. Rather than placing blame, it's crucial to examine all contributing factors and work with employees to find solutions. By acknowledging their own contributions to the issue and having open communication with the employee, leaders can create a more collaborative and productive work environment. Tracking progress and ensuring alignment is also essential for continued success. She encourages leaders to approach these situations with a growth mindset, seeking to learn and improve rather than assigning fault.

Finding a balance between being inclusive and being directive is crucially important. Anne notes that without alignment in an organization, chaos can ensue, and allowing people to exercise too much authority without proving themselves first can lead to unsatisfactory results. It is essential to have a clear vision and direction for the organization and to ensure that everyone is working towards that common goal. Only then can individuals be given more autonomy and decision-making power.

In this episode:

[03:00] Dr. Dranitsaris uses both psychotherapy and organizational systems consulting 

approaches to help individuals and organizations succeed in change initiatives.

  • Problem-solving that is tailored to the individual or organization's developmental needs.
  • Measures what clients can tolerate and need to grow along their developmental trajectory. 

[06:00] Self-awareness is crucial in leadership, especially when leading large teams.

  • The focus should not just be on the behavior itself but on what's behind it.
  • Understanding the underlying reasons behind certain behaviors is key to developing beyond them and avoiding getting stuck.

[09:00] Testing and feedback are used to determine how personality types impact organizational 


  • Leaders must be aware of the impact their behavior has on people and take responsibility.
  • Understanding one's own inherent strengths and challenges is crucial when attempting to shift behavior for personal or organizational development.

[12:00] Balance taking responsibility for team failures with recognizing when an individual is not 

the right fit for the team.

  • Entrepreneurs strive for self-improvement and take responsibility for their team's failures.
  • Consideration of team culture and activities may be more critical in larger organizations.

[15:00] Track progress to ensure alignment and resolution of issues.

  • Avoid blaming individuals and focus on gaining alignment with everyone.
  • Restate expectations if an employee is not clear on them.

[18:00] Permission to exercise more authority should not be given out of timing.

  • Being inclusive and directive at the right time is crucial for organizational alignment.
  • Without something to align to, chaos can inadvertently be created in an organization.