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Richard Leider introduced the idea of “pivot points” that happen in our lives, if we look for the goodness.

When Richard Leider, the internationally-acclaimed expert on “purpose” in life and leadership appeared at the Good Leadership Breakfast in February of 2017, he and I talked about the important pivot points in each of our careers. In the interview portion of his talk, I asked him about some of his most memorable moments when his career pivoted–taking a sudden turn in a new direction. Ever since that interview, I’ve been keenly aware of some of those moments in my life and in the lives of our clients.

Finding meaning

Looking back on your career–what moment did you take a turn in a new direction, that turned out to be good for the direction in your life?

Leider talked about attending a lecture by his idol, the famous Austrian neurologist and psychologist Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning. Leider credits that one single lecture as the pivot point that launched him on the journey to become the world’s foremost authority on the power of purpose. It was pivotal, because he didn’t expect it.

The coaching question in today’s blog is this: Are you open to a pivot point in your leadership? What sudden turn took you in a new direction that changed your life and leadership?

Where’s the goodness in this?

Yesterday I had coffee with a peer who had a number of sudden changes that seemingly bounced his life and leadership in the wrong direction. An important employee quit on January 2, and his right-hand operational partner left two weeks earlier after 14 years without much warning. He was discouraged, and seeking some coaching.

Not surprisingly, I asked our signature question: Where’s the goodness in this? 

Of course, he knew that question was coming–that’s why he invited me to coffee. As we talked through the unexpected benefits of these sudden changes his body language shifted, in a good way. As he sat up straight, his voice got stronger…and then his eyes got brighter. Within 30 minutes he had a new outlook and a sketch of a new plan.

How do pivot points in your leadership provide opportunities to radiate goodness?

Accepting the pivot

As we parted, he said: “I suppose the reason the firm was a little stuck, was because I was a little stuck.” With a grin he concluded, “Now I see how the opportunity to hire new people into new positions will help us leap ahead.” It was a pivot point moment, and he knew it. And he was radiating goodness.

Good leaders often recall how the New Year naturally creates pivot points. And they bounce in a new direction because they left their hearts open to finding the goodness in the change.

Please share with me: When did you find goodness in a sudden change in your life?

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When Darin Lynch, CEO of Irish Titan, spoke at the Good Leadership Breakfast in years gone by, we were operating on a “hunch.” Now, we’ve proven Goodness Pays – it’s going to be an exciting year!

What we started 9 years ago was based on a hunch. We didn’t have any proof. All we had was a burst of confidence that came from the affirmation of others when we made the bold statement: goodness pays. And then we made the assertion that we could improve our clients’ business results by teaching them how to lead with more goodness. The business grew about the same time people started lingering after the meetings…as if they were yearning for more goodness.

The research behind this book proves exactly “how” goodness pays.

Friday, February 15, is the start of the 10th year of the Good Leadership Breakfast Series. What’s exciting, is the decision to grow the breakfast and our business is no longer based on a “hunch.” Because we now have research-based proof – leading with goodness pays financially for leaders who consistently live and work in ways that other people recognize as “goodness.” We think that’s exciting!

Great speakers this spring

So, we’ve assembled a group of speakers whose leadership is energized by continual bursts of goodness. One speaker is famous, the others are everyday good leaders who live within our midst – quietly generating world-class business results. Our kick-off speaker is our highest profile speaker yet: Stedman Graham.

Yes, it’s “that Stedman.” He’s a world-class coach and leadership consultant who will kick off the 2019 breakfast series.

On February 15, he will share his world-class insights from a coaching/consulting/speaking career that spans decades – and also transcends cultures. He’s tall, dark, and handsome…fitting of the world’s most famous “boyfriend.”

A small amount of tickets are available – you can guarantee a seat to meet Stedman Graham if you buy a season ticket here.

Megan Remark will speak on March 15 about her journey to becoming a hospital CEO.

March 15, the speaker is the CEO of Regions Hospital, Megan Remark. Megan will share her insights on the leadership challenges of maintaining and growing the reputation of a Level One Trauma Center hospital. And she’s also shaping a world-class culture with team leadership in ways she labels: Silver to Gold.

April 12, the speaker is a global IT executive, Monte Nuchols, who is shaping the manufacturing intelligence systems for Adient – the world’s largest manufacturer of automotive seating. After a life-threatening heart attack, Monte fully embraced the idea that the Seven Fs will help leaders live with less stress and lead with less fear. His personal transformation was felt by thousands of employees and contractors within Adient.

May 10, the speaker is a St. Paul kid, Phil McKoy, who rose to the top CIO position at UnitedHealthcare. Phil’s story includes a personal and professional journey where he held strong to his own intense and charismatic brand of goodness that attracts really good people.

Monte Nuchols is a global IT leader who transformed his personal and professional live with the Seven Fs. He’s the speaker on April 12.

After 9 years of growing Good Leadership Enterprises, what stands out as the most satisfying part of the journey so far is the wonderful cast of really good characters who’ve helped us grow the Good Leadership Breakfast. We are leaping ahead into our 10th year with bold expectations for how we can help goodness pay for you.

Phil McKoy will finish the Spring series with a compelling story about his unique brand of goodness in his personal and professional life.

Good leaders move past assumptions and do real research to prove their hunches are true. And they press forward with confidence knowing that goodness pays.

So, the coaching question for today is: What hunch do you need to confirm?

Tickets for the spring season of the Good Leadership Breakfast are available here. A season ticket pack will guarantee your meeting with Stedman Graham.

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Even well-intentioned leaders don’t get along and create tension.

Sometimes well-intentioned leaders just don’t get along. Last week I smiled with satisfaction when a CEO coaching client helped her colleagues with some really good counsel: “Have you tried goodness?” she coached. It’s moments like this when I know we are making a positive impact on the world of leadership and business with our point of view, and our book How Goodness Pays.  Here’s more context:

Most of my work these days is coaching CEOs and their teams on how to grow their businesses to the next level of success with the idea, goodness pays. However, the process is anything but a straight line from when we are hired, to when we see we are improving their leadership. And their business results.

A simple question that can have an can have amazing impact.

We focus the coaching on what we found in our research for the How Goodness Pays book which begins with the definition of goodness in business: when people thrive together in a culture of encouragement, accountability, and positive teamwork.

The “proof” that our coaching is paying off for the client usually comes at an unexpected time, when they tell stories about how things are getting better. In the story I started above, the CEO was telling me about how two very important, very headstrong leaders each had been complaining about one another to her. Both leaders were firmly defending their positions, and thoroughly frustrated. Each had asked the CEO for help in influencing the other.

Both headstrong leaders responded with dumbfounded silence when she coached: “Have you tried goodness?” She encouraged the two to work together to find ways they could both thrive together with encouragement, accountability, and positive teamwork. And then she said the magic words of accountability: “Because what this business needs is for the two of you to be fully aligned and delivering your business outcomes together. If you can’t get on the same page, I won’t choose one of you over the other…you will both have to go.”

This statement is at the core of our firm, and put to practice in thriving organizations.

It wasn’t a threat, it was a fact. Businesses can’t thrive if two of the top leaders are skeptical of each other’s motives, and playing the blame game for why they are missing their business results. Goodness pays when good leaders work together with good intentions – that’s what makes great business results possible.

Good leaders often create frustration and tension when they are intensely focused on good business results. And they learn to try goodness to help strong-minded people thrive together.

Please share with me: Have you tried goodness in your work lately?

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The non-traditional banker, Greg Cunningham, shared his “super power” at the Good Leadership Breakfast last Friday.

His smile pulled me in like a magnet. When Greg Cunningham, the Diversity and Inclusion leader at U.S. Bank shook my hand for the first time, I knew he was special. Last Friday, guests at the Good Leadership Breakfast were treated to a magnetic keynote speech, by a non-traditional “banker” who came dressed in black jeans, a black sweater with a white shirt, and black polka dot tie – an outfit that was completed by white Puma tennis shoes. His outfit presented a perfect backdrop to show off his smile – a smile caused by what he calls his “super power.”

Finding Authenticity

Greg and I laughed about our families, empty-nesting, and his bright white Puma tennis shoes.

After years of traditional schooling, cultural influence, and corporate training, it was the movie “Akeela and the Bee” – underwritten by Starbucks – that helped him find his super power. “I was moved so much by the courage in that movie that I spoke up in a staff meeting in ways that I’d never done before. And in that moment, my boss looked at me. He saw the real me, and that moment changed my life.”

His super power was the courage to embrace the diversity of experience and perspective from his childhood, and use it in his professional adult life. The change was instant. “Today, there is no space between the person I am at work, and the person I am at home, outside of my job,” he beamed. That authenticity is the fuel that drives his work in creating an environment where people can thrive together at U.S. Bank.

Smiles All the Way Around: Goodness Pays

Greg’s message set the scene for one of the brightest moments yet at the Good Leadership Breakfast. We revealed our newest, most comprehensive book project: How Goodness Pays, by giving the first 200 published books away to our guests.

The first 200 copies of How Goodness Pays were given as gifts to the guests at the Good Leadership Breakfast.

There were smiles all the way around the room as we introduced the writing team: writing coach Sean McDonnell, researcher Jeri Meola, and co-author Paul Hillen. Our intention was to demonstrate our gratitude for the love and encouragement we felt along the way, and to equip people to help us build momentum for the message. My smile was bigger than usual, because we had a full room of people intent on helping us spread goodness, because goodness pays.

You can get your copy – and one to “gift” to another – by following this link.

The book team celebrated together (left to right) Paul Hillen, me, Sean McDonnell, and Jeri Meola.

You can listen to the podcast from Greg’s speech here.

Good leaders find their authentic self and use it as their super power for their leadership. And they live a happy life, spreading goodness, because goodness pays.

I often describe myself as an author, speaker, and executive coach. That’s what I “do.”  Greg’s message has me wondering “What is my super power behind my smile?”

So, I’m asking you: what’s the super power behind your smile?

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It’s the smile that captures the contagious charisma of Greg Cunningham, the speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast on November 16.

It was his smile that grabbed me. You know what I mean. There are some people in this world, when you meet them all you see is their smile. That’s how I felt when I met Greg Cunningham. He and I had already spoken over the telephone, but we didn’t share a handshake until the photo shoot for the 2018 Power 50 awards, sponsored by a business magazine. We instantly bonded over our bright blue business clothes.  But his radiant energy – including that smile – is what elevated the goodness for everyone in the room.

Greg is the Speaker, November 16, 2019

If you attend the last Good Leadership Breakfast of the Fall 2019 season, I’ll introduce you to an amazing leader whose work is about leading global inclusion and diversity at U.S. Bank. Greg is a special person, speaking on a special day at the Breakfast – because it’s also the day when we reveal the How Goodness Pays book to the world.

Greg (right) is active in community building on behalf of U.S. Bank.

What’s special about Greg, is how he presents his core purpose in everything he does: “There’s no daylight between who I am as a person, and what I do professionally. Because I need to bring my own personal values to everything I do.” It’s a perspective shaped by a series of memorable pivot points on his leadership journey. He calls it his Super Power.

Embracing Hardships for Good

At the impressionable young age of 5, he tragically watched his father be wheeled away on a gurney after suffering a seizure. Greg never saw his father alive again. From that day forward he was raised by a single mom, in the inner city of Pittsburgh, in one of the first black families in a Catholic school. “I grew up always feeling less than other people,” he explains. That’s why his success as a leader, and his message of hope and unity, is so powerful.

Speaking Our Authentic Self at Work

Discussing this movie in a staff meeting was a pivot point for Greg’s career.

“The things I used to think were deficits, became the things that differentiated me and opened doors for me,” he shared with intention. Oddly enough, it was the movie “Akeelah and the Bee” that pivoted his professional career to where he is today. “I mustered up the courage to talk openly in a staff meeting about how much that movie impacted my life. In sharing my experience, for the first time in my professional career I was speaking my authentic self at work,” he revealed. From that moment of truth, his employer embraced the idea of a multicultural marketing group that tailored messaging, positioning, and merchandising to a broader spectrum of consumers. And it catapulted his career.

Greg and his wife are city-dwelling, empty-nesting parents: their son is in college in Maryland, and their daughter is in college in Los Angeles.

Today, he’s an empty-nesting husband and father, and the leader of the Global Inclusion and Diversity function at one of the nation’s largest banks – with no prior experience. “I didn’t choose this job, it chose me!” he laughed. “It’s good that I realized at an important time in my life: my broad life perspective is my ‘super power!’ Today, I leverage that in service to others. I inspire the purpose and potential of other people. I love my life,” he smiled again.

Good leaders find the goodness in all of life’s events. And they spread their radiant energy – their Super Power – in ways that help all people thrive.

Good Leaders: Please share with me – what is your Super Power?

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