Street Level Influencer: Meet Anthony Eaton and His Passion for Leadership
Anthony Eaton, PHR, SHRM-CP AUTHOR | WRITER | HR PROFESSIONAL
“Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.” — Oprah
It’s been a while, but the Street Level Influencer is back! Now more than ever, we need reminders from those individuals at the ground level making an impact in our daily lives – many times without us knowing it – that life is overwhelmingly good, even when it’s “bad.”
Street level influencers provide that for us.
COVID, social unrest, systemic racism, political division, hatred from all sides. All these things have caused cracks in even the most tempered of personality foundations. Concrete, eventually, will crack under the weight of the burden.
When I began my idea of the Street Level Influencer, I had no idea how positive people would respond to it! I’m excited that it struck a chord with people. Remember, the Street Level Influencer is a reminder that everyone has the ability to radiate positive light in the world around them, and light is brighter when surrounded by shadows.
So far in the series, I have introduced you to:
Now, I want to introduce you to Anthony Eaton, an HR professional from Dallas-Fort Worth area with a passion for leadership.
Leadership is challenging. Leaders must often forego their own challenges and take on the challenges of others. They must forsake themselves at times so that others can prosper. However, in doing so, the leader then prospers.
Like so many of my network, I met Anthony on LinkedIn. I can’t recall exactly what article we connected through, but Anthony said he wanted to connect because we had an HR background and made posting about what we thought it took to be great leaders.
Since then, I’ve admired Anthony’s thought-provoking posts. He asks questions to try to get people to think differently. Many folks often try to figure out what it means to be a leader. It’s different for everyone. And Anthony asks and observes:
Can great leadership be taught and learned?
As a leader do you accept that mistakes will happen or do you expect perfection?
If the only tool you have in your leadership toolbox is a hammer, then everything will be a nail.
What does bringing your authentic self to work mean to you?
What makes a leader great?
Clearly, Anthony is a philosopher whether he realizes it or not!
I was drawn to Anthony’s inquisitive disposition, and his willingness to engage to get to the right answer. Leadership is something we’re both clearly passionate about, and it’s something EVERY HR professional needs to focus on.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to Anthony! You’ll definitely want to connect with him and get to know him better.
Where do you currently work and what is your role?
I work for AmerisourceBergen a pharma company as an HR Advisor. In my role I work with leaders to address employee relations and performance management situations, do investigations and provide guidance and interpretation of policies making sure our approach aligns with our purpose of putting people first.
How would you define being a “good HR professional?”
I would say do no harm. The best HR professionals really care about people and strive to strike that fine balance between doing what is best for employees and the business. Employees are not just resources, and the business is not just a bottom line and paycheck. While it is not rocket science, the things we do in HR have a direct effect on people and the business.
What was your biggest HR success? Why was it important to you?
There have been a couple, first was obtaining my PHR certification on the first try. I had been encouraged by peers to do it and I am very proud that I studied for it on my own and passed. Second would be my first management role in a similar position. While I did not have any direct reports my then to be manager could see my potential and sought me out for the role.
What was your biggest HR setback? What did it teach you?
I believe that everything happens for a reason and there is a lesson to be learned from each experience, so I don’t really look at things in terms of setbacks. We make decisions and choices based on what we know at the time. My career found me and it has certainly ebbed and flowed but I have looked at each experience for the lesson and growth it offers both personally and professionally. In both my professional and personal life I have learned to listen to that little voice inside and if a situation does not feel right trust that. Don’t let other people control your career and don’t take an opportunity just for the money. If you are doing what you are supposed to do opportunity will come but you also must be able to recognize it when it does.
Who’s one person in your network that readers should know about?
Oh my, that is hard because I have been blessed to connect with so many great people. Right now, I would say Keith Mason who I am writing a piece on. His story is amazing and inspiring, people should look him up and read about him. He’s a former professional rugby player with such an diverse background.
You mentioned you’re writing a book on leadership! This is incredibly exciting. How is that going, and what is the title and theme?
It is going slowly, but that is ok because what you create is more important than how fast you create it. The title is 52 Thought Provoking Questions on Leadership. The book will be an eclectic mix of questions with space for the reader to write their own answers along with answers to select questions from a wide range and diverse group of people.
I like to know what other people think because it enables me to look at things from different points of view and consider perspectives I may not have thought about. The more we share the better we are and I want to share more than just my view and opinion; I want to get people to think.
Who is one person — historic, famous, or personal — who inspires you to be better?
That one is easy, Oprah. If you look at her life and career it has been a journey of growth and self-discovery. I could listen to her talk for hours and I admire her for what she has done and who she is as a human being. With that said, I don’t put her on a pedestal because she is “Oprah.” I know she is human and not infallible, but she puts that out there and shares.
What do you feel is HR’s biggest challenge going to be over the next six months?
That is easy too, getting through this pandemic and past all the social and political strife that has been going on. I am thankful to work for such a great organization that really cares about people knowing that this is not the case for everyone. As HR professionals we need to be empathetic to what our employees are going through and the tough choices they may be faced with while at the same time not letting these things become an excuse. As human beings we need to remember that we are all different, but we are also very much the same in our needs and wants.
How can people connect with you?
What’s one thing you think the world should know about you – personal or professional? Have fun with this one!
Oh gosh, if I can only give you one it is that I am a kid at heart and have tried to hold onto that. My sense of wonder of the world, joy of just being and creativity. I like to be silly.