Unlocking Leadership

Dust blows across the corral. We toe the dirt. Creative, even scary leadership development activities from the past float through my mind: blister-producing ropes exercise; speed-prep speech giving; psychometric leadership styles assessments; several 360s; cabaret solo-singing. Now, at a ranch outside San Francisco, I’m about to lead a horse. When psychologist Kurt Lewin released his groundbreaking research on leadership styles in 1939, I doubt he anticipated how leadership vernacular, assessments, workshops, and programs would proliferate. Catchy new labels for leadership styles emerge frequently and if we strip away the buzzwords, we find elements of the three core styles Lewin identified: Autocratic, Democratic, and Laissez-Faire. Perspiration trickles down my back as the timed “Lead a Horse” exercise begins. One classmate decides she’s too terrified of horses to participate and leaves the arena. Another colleague pats and pets his horse, talks quietly, pulls on the reins, and nothing happens.  Flirtatious, the horse flips its mane as if to say, “come on, impress me big boy.” He belly-bumps and begs. The lady horse won’t budge. Colleague number three steps up, … [Read more...]

Five Francis-Catalyzed Leadership Reflections

Visiting a dear friend in Omaha recently, she shared something one of her Catholic priests mentioned to her, "He said that he was walking out of a restaurant one night, wearing his collar, and an apparently homeless woman stopped him and said, hey, I like your Pope." Once I got past the sense that this might have the makings of a great joke, and consternated about whether the priest had done something immediately to assist the woman (he didn't, at least according to the second-hand story), I realized that I was in radical agreement with the homeless woman:  I like Pope Francis' leadership thus far too. I'm not Catholic but I do recognize that popes are incredibly important global CEOs. Because how they lead matters to so many, it also matters to me. According to the Vatican, there are 1.2 Billion Catholics in the world today. In the U.S., 72.8 people self-identify as Catholics. His Holiness Pope Francis consistently speaks and acts as a leader. He’s called on Catholics (and us all) to battle the “globalization of indifference” and to be more compassionate, to champion the poor, and work to achieve social justice. Five Francis-Catalyzed Leadership Reflections 1. As CEOs, … [Read more...]

It Doesn’t Pay To Be Stingy With Praise by Sue Caba

Do you praise your employees five times more often than you criticize them? If not, you’re missing one of the most cost-effective techniques for building employee engagement, increasing profits, improving safety records and lowering absenteeism. Praise, after all, is free. Employees who don’t get enough praise or feel their boss doesn’t listen are 30 percent more likely than other workers to suffer a heart attack and three times more likely to look for another job within a year, according to research by Harvard, Gallup and The Aberdeen Group. Positive feedback doesn’t have to be--in fact, shouldn’t be--excessive.  A simple “thank you,” or “Hey, loved the way you worded that letter,” is often appropriate, so long as it’s sincere. Why does it work? Because receiving an “atta-girl” gives your brain a little shot of dopamine--the body’s feel-good hormone and neurotransmitter. And that little burst of pleasure prompts you to repeat the behavior that prompted the rewarding feeling. Yet, very few managers practice the art of praise. The Gallup Organization has analyzed the responses of many thousands of employees, surveyed on job satisfaction in the past five decades. Only … [Read more...]

Burn-the-Box: Julie Jakopic

Fearless Females Forum is a monthly showcase for inspiring women who found the courage to meet their calling, solve a problem, or take a road less travelled. Burn-the-Box Julie Jakopic, Founder of iLead Strategies, couldn't decide which box to fit into as a kid. An actor, a swimmer, and president of the world affairs club in high school, she felt welcome by peers in all three 'boxes,' yet always a little bit outside them too. She sensed that sticking to one box wasn't where she belonged—but how to play across boxes in our check-box comfortable world? “Living outside of boxes wasn’t always easy as a kid, but its great as an adult,” Julie says. From cosmetics to energy efficiency to human services, Julie's found success applying a courageous "forget thinking outside the box, burn-the-box" philosophy. To date, she's shared the stage with luminaries like President Obama and change agent Neale Donald Walsch, and focused her energy, insights and intellect connecting across and between adult-style boxes—private, public and non-profit sectors. Julie helps multi-sector leaders transcend “the crazy pervasive things that cross them all.” It takes courage to "burn-the-box" of … [Read more...]

The Best of 2014 from Jone Bosworth

by Susan Caba What do Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and The Walking Dead have in common? What’s the connection between a hug and a personal manifesto? Which is better, striving for power or learning to relax and let go? Oh, the questions we ask! And where do we turn for answers? To Jone Bosworth, of course. I’ve been reading inCourageLeading.com closely for more than a year now, and I’m consistently impressed with Jone’s knack for pulling leadership insights from unlikely sources—the Rolling Stones, Mister Rogers—and, more than that, for encouraging women to both recognize and use our power while, at the same time, giving us permission to relax and release responsibility for making the entire world run right. Not only that, she makes me laugh. Here are some of my favorite posts from 2014: Leadership Guidance from the World’s Nicest Grown-Up: To tell you the truth, I was never a fan of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. As a hard-bitten newspaper reporter, I frankly found the show sappy. But Jone, wiser than I, gleaned 15 leadership lessons from him that I have since come to appreciate. Here’s just one: “You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need … [Read more...]

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