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Stephynie Malik: “Credibility Drives Connection and Engagement”

Credibility Drives Connection and Engagement — Credibility is every leader’s greatest capital, and it takes some unique skills and some time to bank enough to build trust, gain respect and eliminate fear. Self-awareness, humility, gratitude and empathy are behaviors that build strong connections and drive engagement. They build your credibility and enable team members to change their […]

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Credibility Drives Connection and Engagement — Credibility is every leader’s greatest capital, and it takes some unique skills and some time to bank enough to build trust, gain respect and eliminate fear.

Self-awareness, humility, gratitude and empathy are behaviors that build strong connections and drive engagement. They build your credibility and enable team members to change their behaviors and make a commitment to align with team values and goals.


As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephynie Malik.

Fresh on the heels of a 25+ year successful career in which she was an award-winning CEO of a global consulting firm for over a decade, a serial entrepreneur that spearheaded multi-million dollar acquisitions and mergers while working with more than 11 start-ups globally, and a business transformation and crisis specialist, Stephynie Malik formed SMALIK Enterprises with one single goal in mind — to help others and promote change through her proven strategies and methodologies.

Stephynie founded SME with the same intention she had in mind when she started her first company MalikCo, a highly successful global technology consulting firm. The goal is to build a customer centric business consulting, executive coaching and crisis management services organization that changes the industry’s business model for service delivery and creating sustainable improvements to individual or organizational performance, productivity, and profitability globally.

Hailed as an expert negotiator and skilled crisis management consultant in the industry, Stephynie is helping top-notch athletes, executives and businesses take their careers and organizations to the next level while also resolving high conflict and crisis cases for individuals and companies globally.

In addition to bringing her wealth of knowledge, undeniable experience and proven track record of success to SMALIK Enterprises, she has also established a team of world class experts to ensure SME delivers the highest level of service and results to its clients globally.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?

I had the great fortune of being able to grow up in the Silicon Valley which afforded me the opportunity to work at some of the best companies in the world and do so at a time in which cutting edge technology was at the forefront. After holding several Director and Vice President roles and gaining invaluable experience along the way I founded what would become a highly successful global consulting firm. After nearly 15 years as Founder and CEO I didn’t just want to ride off into the sunset as I knew deep inside that there was so much more that I wanted to do and so much more that I wanted to give back to others. It was then that I founded my most recent venture, SMALIK Enterprises. SME is a Crisis Management, Executive Transformation and Business Consulting firm that was founded with the deliberate intent to promote change, make a greater impact , give back and to ultimately transform not just companies, but the also the lives of those we work with.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I often am asked why I thought the middle of a significant economic downturn was a great time to launch a technology consulting company? It was simple. I had no choice. I knew it wasn’t a question of if my corporate job would be eliminated; it was a matter of when. I was a recently divorced a working single parent with bills to pay and a child to raise. I knew there was a market for a new approach to delivering consulting services and solutions that MalikCo would eventually pioneer. I had a large network of people and a number of companies that could serve as a potential client base. I had a laptop, a phone, the help of an insanely talented consultant, and a 1,500 dollars personal loan. We put in the work and got it done. MalikCo billed and collected 2.5 million dollars in our first quarter in business and continues to thrive today.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Online business is a new ballgame! There was that one time I lost 25 thousand dollars in 8 seconds. Does that qualify? Long story short, https://thriveglobal.com/stories/personal-behaviors-drive-our-personal-outcomes-with-stephynie-malik-and-fotis-georgiadis/

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?

Effective team management begins with your ability to create and sustain a team environment or culture that inspires the hearts and engages the minds of each team member.

Inspiring hearts is all about your behaviors and ability to eliminate fear, build trust and gain respect.

Engaging minds is about establishing strategies and processes to involve every member in team planning, performance improvement and decision-making activities.

The approach is simple, conceptually. Team members who feel safe, respected, and valued in the workplace are far less likely leave an organization. The challenge lies with execution. When you create such an environment, not only will you attract great talent, you’ll retain it!

How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?

I think this is another area that is related to workplace culture. For example, teamwork and continuous improvement have always been core values in the companies I have led. Values can be easily translated into expectations which can be communicated and integrated into day to day operations. Being visible, engaged, and accessible to your team is critical in building a culture based on trust, teamwork and continuous improvement. Especially with large teams.

Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”. (Please share a story or example for each, Ideally an example from your experience)

1 . Your Behaviors Drive Team Outcomes: Stephen M. R. Covey observed, “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.”

Self-awareness and humility are invaluable skills to have and critical to team engagement. When people judge you by your actions, they can easily see where the gaps and disconnects are.

Which links to the next “thing”

2 . Aggressively Seek Feedback: One of the root causes of employee disengagement is their perception that their manager doesn’t engage or interact with them in a meaningful or positive way.

Many managers use the buzzword phrase “feedback is a gift” when they are providing it, but go to great lengths to avoid receiving it. Being humble enough, vulnerable enough and strong enough to receive and use the feedback of others is a huge differentiator when people judge your actions.

One of the easiest ways to begin to engage the minds of your team members and to bank credibility is to ask for their feedback on anything and everything that you can think of to improve team performance and operational results.

Little things can make a huge difference, and it takes just a few seconds and a few words to make someone feel valued, respected, and significant.

3 . Use Your Touch Points: Every interaction you have with your team members is an opportunity to inspire and engage. Every individual or team meeting, coaching and development session, performance observation or review, hallway encounter, and any other contact you have can be used to say hello, ask a simple question, show appreciation, recognize effort and results, or solicit feedback and suggestions.

One of the best pieces of leadership advice I received pointed out when it comes to leading a team, the team’s members could be my greatest allies or greatest enemies — and it would be my behaviors toward them that determined which side they would choose to take.

Life and work are much easier and more enjoyable with a team full of allies.

4 . Accountability Equals Team Development: Today’s workforce welcomes and seeks accountability as they understand the value of meeting standards and expectations and see it as important for their personal and professional development.

Accountability doesn’t have to be punitive or focus solely on negative performance. Performance standards and expectations need to be clear and apply equally to each team member. Nothing will destroy your credibility and team culture faster than not holding everyone equally accountable for team performance standards. I’ve seen many examples of managers showing favoritism or ignoring the bad and disruptive behaviors of their top performers. This is just another reason people leave managers, not companies.

5 . Credibility Drives Connection and Engagement: Credibility is every leader’s greatest capital, and it takes some unique skills and some time to bank enough to build trust, gain respect and eliminate fear.

Self-awareness, humility, gratitude and empathy are behaviors that build strong connections and drive engagement. They build your credibility and enable team members to change their behaviors and make a commitment to align with team values and goals.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Please treat them with respect, dignity, and help them to develop the skills and behaviors to achieve their dreams and goals.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am a huge advocate for education reform.

Organizations like the Kahn Academy and Acton Academy are pioneering new ways to identify and close skill gaps, tailor customized learning solutions for their students, or change curriculums and delivery methods to focus on critical thinking and analytical skills.

I would love to be a leader in this much needed revolution.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I would have to go with the C.S. Lewis quote I mentioned earlier.

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

I know these words to be true because I’ve lived them.

Thank you for these great insights!

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