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Leader to Leader

This award-winning journal delivers insights from today's most-respected thought leaders as they

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Hesselbein and Company

Serving Our Employees and Volunteers: Teaching, Mentoring and Spirit-Building in the Workplace

Fall 2014

There are a number of disconcerting phenomena that characterize today's workplace in the United States. One that is particularly troubling is the depleted energy and degraded spirit of our most important asset—our people.

Finding causes would be easy, and two plausible possibilities come to mind immediately. First, although the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the most recent recession to the U.S. economy officially ended in June 2009, economists and experience tell us the impacts and recovery, like the recession itself, are years in the making. Besides the devastating financial and economic effects, we could blame the recession for draining the emotional and motivational psyche of employees across the country. Employee loyalty is down as is loyalty and satisfaction from customers; passion is hard to find, because it seems business processes aren't the only thing technology has “automated,” and connectedness and community have been supplanted by self-interest and isolation. But, if that isn't enough, another more subtle, albeit just as demoralizing, culprit can be indicted. We could blame the slow deterioration of our employees' emotional and mental wellness in the “profit-first, double-digit returns” (read greed) that pervades the corporate strategies and policies of some businesses. In these cases, the push for profits seems to be without consideration for the impact on people, and can result in job layoffs and eliminations; but this disregard can certainly have the same deleterious effects on people who are left in the workplace after others have been let go.

Stephanie L. Foster

My Leadership Lesson Recently Relearned: Positivity as an Intentional Leader Bias

December 26, 2013

It is a privilege to join Leader to Leader readers in the study and sharing of lessons learned and advancements in leadership development. I am a recently retired colonel from the U.S. Army with more than twenty-five years of military service. As a graduate of the United States Military Academy, the principles of leadership espoused and practiced in the military have significantly shaped my professional life.

Over the course of my military career, I have had the distinct privilege of working with diverse populations of professionals, including fellow Army, Air Force, Marine, and Navy military members, Department of Defense civilians, and hosts of nonmilitary professionals, such as contractors, scientists, engineers, researchers, corporate leaders, and academics. To be expected, the heterogeneity of my teammates grew as my rank and responsibilities increased. When I began my career as a second lieutenant, I was responsible for a small group of truck drivers—all military and of lesser rank and longer military experience than me. Twenty-two years later, my command responsibilities as a colonel included leadership of a matrix organization of military, Department of Defense civilian, and contractor personnel entrusted with the provision of advanced target acquisition and laser equipment for military members. Once again, my workforce possessed greater experience than me in the technical development of the command’s commodities.

Mike Sheehan

Corporate Citizenship: Good for Business; Good for Employees

November 28, 2013

There’s the oft-cited aphorism that companies can—and should—“do well by doing good.” Last year I was on a panel at Boston University for incoming MBA students. They were asked, “How many of you think a company has an obligation to give back to the community?” I was pleasantly surprised to see that they all raised their hands.

I then had the unpleasant task of telling these civic-minded young people that I believe they are wrong. A company doesn’t have an obligation to give back to the community. A company’s obligation is to shareholders. That said, any business that doesn’t give back, one way or another, is crazy. You can call giving back what you want: corporate social responsibility (CSR), corporate citizenship,  being a part of the community. And there are many ways to do good. Writing checks, doing pro bono work, matching employee donations, giving workers paid time off to do volunteer work. But the bottom line is the same: Giving back, however you choose to do it, is the right thing—for you and your employees.

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Meet the Editor

Frances Hesselbein

One of the most highly respected experts in the field of contemporary leadership development, Frances Hesselbein is the president and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute (formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management). In 1998, Mrs. Hesselbein was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, by President Bill Clinton. The award recognized her leadership as CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA from 1976 to 1990, her role as the founding president of the Drucker Foundation, and her service as ‘‘a pioneer for women, volunteerism, diversity, and opportunity.’’

Bruce Rosenstein
Managing Editor

Peter Economy
Associate Editor

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