Be All-In! Here’s How

Ever since my first blog on the topic of All-In Leadership in 2011, the concept has led readers to ask for more. I obliged with blogs on All-In Women Leaders, 10 Reasons to Be All-In at Work, 12 Ways All-In Leadership Increases the Value of Any Team Meeting, and All-In Leadership—NOW!

The All-In concept advocates that we all have leadership potential, but too many of us are looking to others to lead. We need to stop looking “up” when we all should be looking in. All-In Leadership is a term I use to remind all of us about our individual choice to lead and how we can best approach this opportunity to be more powerful today.

But your feedback has been consistent: Rick, can you make it easier for me to see my All-In choices? Well at long last I can say YES!

I’ve just added a simple tool to my website that can provide you with a super-quick way to assess how All-In (powerful) you are today, and to decide what you might change to be more All-In tomorrow.

All-In Power

I believe that All-In power comes when we connect what we do to who we are. All-In power is comprised of five elements that can be found in every one of us:

  • Clarity – the quality of being certain or definite in a process or course of direction.
  • Influence – the capacity to have an effect on the development or behavior of someone or something.
  • Energy – the drive and vitality to live and engage fully.
  • Confidence – the feeling of self-assurance that comes from an understanding of one’s own priorities, abilities, and qualities.
  • Impact – the strong and/or immediate sway on someone or something.

I believe strongly in equality and that these opportunities can be available to everyone. I also believe we are all connected and that when we go All-In it affects those around us.

All-In Power Spreads

Research supports my view that once anyone in a group goes All-In, the chance that others will too increases.

Specifically, research has found that positive emotions spread from person to person in a work environment. An individual’s or group’s emotion plays a strong role in the behavior of an organization. Studies show that positive mood or emotion enhances creative problem solving, cooperation, decision quality, overall performance, the search for creative solutions, and confidence in being able to achieve positive outcomes. One study by Yale researcher Sigal Barsade, PhD, found that a spread of positive emotion is associated with improved cooperation, decreased conflict, and better task performance at work.

I’ll close this blog with the same paragraph that closed my first All-In blog 7 years ago: “All-In Leadership also requires courage. The serious challenges we face individually and collectively can feel daunting if they fall to only a few to solve. We need leadership from senior executives, group managers, and individual contributors. Together, our combined leadership capabilities and skills can make the difference. Why not start today?

Take the survey to get started!

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Are You as Powerful as Melissa?

In my recent blog about Be Chief’s charity partner, Sammy’s House, I referenced a six-year-old wheelchair-bound girl, “Melissa,” who taught me what a true power looks like. After several requests from readers to learn a little more about her, I thought I’d share her story here—and challenge you to see how powerful you are.

Years ago, I volunteered at a rehabilitation facility in Morristown, NJ, working with a gifted physical therapist in a 100-degree heated pool. I assisted as the therapist used the warm water to stretch the muscles of children challenged with cerebral palsy and other muscular disorders.

We’d already worked with several kids on the day I first met Melissa. I remember her waiting patiently for her turn in the pool. Her calm demeanor and watchful eyes caught my attention. She seemed to be quietly taking everything in. When we got her in the pool, her smile lit up the room.

When we started the session, she was as focused on her task as anyone I had ever seen. She had one goal—she wanted to extend both arms together to enable her hands to grasp a small sponge basketball toy, drop it in a floating net, and score two points. At first, both of her hands were rigidly held close to her shoulders. During her first session, we were able to get just one arm to relax—and it moved just a few inches. Melissa gave it 100%, but this was going to be a long process.

I remember being struck by how each member of the rehab staff was affected by Melissa. I remember how Melissa entered the water with that same enthusiasm and focus every time, and after each session she made a point to say thank you to both her therapist and me.

It took Melissa nearly six months of weekly sessions to meet her goal. When she finally succeeded she let out a cry of joy that I can still hear to this day, as staff members in the area applauded.

She was confident. She was clear about her goal. Her energy was contagious. She influenced each of us and has made an impact to this day. She served others as a role model in so many ways. She sure served me, even when I started out with the belief that I was there to serve her.

And she reminded me that those with disabilities have amazing abilities to share with those of us whose challenges aren’t as visible. She is what I refer to as a Chief.

Your Power

How powerful are you? Do you give 100% like Melissa? Did you know you can actually measure your power and find ways to increase it? I created a brief survey to help you do just that.

The power you will measure has nothing to do with your title or position. It’s focused on influence, clarity, energy, confidence, and impact—the measures of real power.

Take the survey.

And no, Melissa never took the survey. Good thing too, because nobody would beat her score!

Melissa taught me to give 100%, so I’m giving 100% of the author proceeds from Be Chief sales to Sammy’s House.

Sammy’s House is a nonprofit agency that provides services for children with and without special needs. The organization operates a child development center, a respite care program, a summer camp, as well as family support services to fill the gaps in services for children and their families. Sammy’s House believes that all children have the ability to learn and to contribute to the community. The organization is particularly focused on children who are medically fragile and/or developmentally delayed. Children at Sammy’s House learn the values of acceptance and compassion, and the art of caring for one another. And like Melissa, these special kids each have a lot to teach the rest of us.

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Do You Know When to Quit?

“Never give up.” “Persistence alone is omnipotent.” “When the going gets tough . . . ” and on and on. Our culture is awash in historical reminders to keep our “nose to the grindstone” until the job gets done. We’ve gotten good at the hustle. But the truth is that our culture doesn’t know when to quit, literally.

What if the best decision is to give up? In his book, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit, Seth Godin reminds us of the strategies that can help us stop working in a dead-end job or project. There are times when it’s best to cut your losses.

The business world understands how the law of diminishing returns works; at some point additional investments of time, money, and resources are not justified by the return. The best strategy in many cases is simply to stop.

But how will you know when to quit?  The answer is to focus on two costs, and ignore a third.

Opportunity Costs

In The Dip, Godin suggests it is time for “strategic quitting” when the opportunity costs are greater than the benefits of continuing on your current path. An opportunity cost is a big deal. But what is it?

An opportunity cost is the value of what you’d lose by not pursuing a better alternative. As I shared in my recent TED talk, I decided to quit my job as President of Global Services at AT&T when it became clear that the benefit of staying wasn’t as high as the benefit of doing something else. The result of leaving in fact became the opportunity to run an internet startup that gave me a very different set of skills and experience that are critical to my current role today.

Figuring out what you could do at any point isn’t easy, but it’s crucial.

Personal Costs

Sometimes, we wrap too much of our own ego into a project to be able to step back and say with conviction, “It’s time to quit.” But, according to research from Northwestern University cited in a recent New York Times article, “. . . when we discard unrealistic goals and switch to alternate goals we’re happier, physically healthier, and less stressed.”

That means separating failure from your sense of self-worth and viewing it as a needed stepping stone to success. Such a perspective can help you calculate personal costs you’ve already invested into a project.

Sunk Costs

While opportunity and personal costs are often difficult to quantify, it’s a third set of costs—sunk costs—that are the easiest to quantify and, as a result, often become the biggest problems.

As people get overly invested in the decisions they’ve made in the past, sunk costs from the past loom larger than they should as we look forward. The best advice I can offer regarding sunk costs is, ignore them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Translation: Know when to cut your losses and go build something better.

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Meditate at Work

“Don’t Meditate at Work.” When I read that headline in the print version of last Sunday’s New York Times I was stunned. The online version of the article’s title went even farther by asserting, “Hey Boss, You Don’t Want Your Employees to Meditate.”

“Mindfulness meditation, a Buddhism-inspired practice in which you focus your mind entirely on the current moment, has been widely embraced for its instrumental benefits—especially in the business world,” write authors Kathleen Vohs and Andrew Hafenbrack.

“A central technique of mindfulness meditation . . . is to accept things as they are [emphasis mine]. And the very notion of motivation—striving to obtain a more desirable future—implies some degree of discontent with the present, which seems at odds with a psychological exercise that instills equanimity and a sense of calm.”

To support their view, the authors share that they conducted five studies to see whether there was “a tension between mindfulness and motivation.” They report in a forthcoming article in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes that they found strong evidence that “meditation is demotivating.”

But as a mindfulness meditation advocate and business turnaround specialist, I simply could not disagree more with that generalization. Here’s why:

Apple, Google, Nike, and other leading companies encourage brief meditations during the day to increase mindfulness. The authors do acknowledge that fact. They also acknowledge “the practical payoff of mindfulness is backed by dozens of studies linking it to job satisfaction, rational thinking and emotional resilience.” These factors all increase the important factor of employee engagement. They have also been proven to reduce health care costs.

Additionally, along with all of these proven benefits, the author’s studies conclude that meditation had no impact on performance.

The study participants were less motivated simply because they weren’t concerned with the future or the past. They were engaged in the moment. In fact, the study “showed that mindfulness enabled people to detach from stressors, which improved task focus.”

Essentially, the study participants still got their work done, and under a state of calm and serenity.

The crux of the issue seems to come from differing views on the word acceptance.

In the view of many mindfulness experts, acceptance of “what is” allows individuals to channel their energy toward the change that they are committed to creating, as opposed to wasting energy on the needless frustration of whatever led to the current reality or what might result from it.

In my experience, with mindfulness people can both accept the reality of any situation and at the same time be totally motivated toward action to change the future.

My counsel: Don’t be misled by a headline. Mindfulness and meditation are both great tools that can lead to better health and greater productivity. While the scientists figure out exactly how and why mindfulness works (and the media continue to misconstrue those results), just know that it does work and is worth the effort.

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What Power Really Means to an Entrepreneur

How does an entrepreneur increase their power? If you believe, as some do, that power is all about title, position, authority, control, and supremacy, you’ll find it a challenge.

Entrepreneurs can give themselves any title or position they want. They have complete authority to do whatever they want whenever they want, and they have ultimate control.

Ask any successful entrepreneur how much time they spend thinking about this type of power and they will laugh. Because the answer is zero.

But ask these successful business people about the importance of energy, clarity, confidence, impact, and influence, and you’ll get a very different response. Entrepreneurs know their success is almost totally dependent on this definition of power.

In my work with many great entrepreneurs, we focus on how they can be powerful by increasing their:

  • Clarity with simple choices around discipline.
  • Influence with simple choices around supporting others.
  • Impact with simple choices around creativity.
  • Energy with simple choices around self-understanding and insight.
  • Confidence with simple choices around values.

Successful entrepreneurs are optimizers. They don’t have time to waste.

Entrepreneurs starting out don’t have the benefit of cadres of help. They need to be as powerful as possible.

How about you?

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Do We Need Another Executive Row Chief? No!

Should the C-suite make room for another Chief? According to Luis Gallardo, a global brand and marketing leader and author of the just-published book Brands and Rousers, companies should add a Chief Reason Officer (CRO) to executive row. I thought I had seen every Chief title possible, but I was wrong.

Luis makes his case in a recent Forbes article, where writer Bruce Rogers asks why companies need a CRO. Gallardo asserts, “[Companies] need to develop new executive positions like this in order to stay focused on their purpose and culture as progress occurs.”

While I’m one of the biggest advocates for added focus on purpose and culture, this is the craziest idea I’ve heard in a while. In my humble opinion, another executive position in the already crowded C-suite is the last thing companies need.

What we do need is more focus on the practices, skills, and tools required to enable all workers to be more agile in already top-heavy companies. And we need more investment in training, communication, and enabling technology that allows for broad decentralization, self-directed teams, and sustainable growth.

I’ve worked with teams that have consistently TRIPLED the growth rate of million- and billion-dollar organizations with just this approach.

More Chiefs do drive better results, and we need many more of them. Just not in executive row.

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Is Work-Life Balance the Wrong Goal?

My clients used to struggle with an issue that many people face. Both those with Chief titles and those without share the challenge of demanding jobs and a commitment not to let their jobs define them. At the same time, they constantly encounter the ever-present objective of “work-life balance.” We all do.

I’ve long relied on the wisdom of the book Sequencing by Arlene Rossen Cardoza, PhD, who wrote primarily for women. Her central premise was, “You can have it all, just not all at once.” In my work today, Dr. Cardoza’s words resonate with truth for both the men and women that I work with.

The Sequencing view is a longer-term view, one I believe makes the work-life balance issue finally attainable. Over decades, it’s logical to see life as a series of chapters in which different experiences fold together to create a book of a life well lived. With a longer view, there is time for marriage, family, care of children, career, care of parents, friends, travel, and personal growth.

Conversely, when the time horizon is “today” or “this week,” the work-life balance goal loses its utility, and many believe they are failing. But it doesn’t need to be that way. In my experience, a goal shift to “work-life integration” has offered my clients huge relief from what might be considered an otherwise impossible goal.

Many people view work-life balance as unattainable, offering up an image of the scales of justice with plates on either side that seek perfect symmetry; equilibrium only attained when things are still. But things are never still. More than that, many report a feeling of being judged by others or judging themselves with an unstated standard for what work-life balance should be. There are no shoulds.

Using the term work-life integration has proven to be helpful to my clients primarily for two reasons. First, it enables people to feel better about the constant change and seemingly accelerating pace of both work and life. Second, while the term balance brings up thoughts about a law of nature, the term integration brings with it a feeling of flexibility and permission.

Could a simple word choice help you? I hope so.

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Emerging Office Trend—No Offices!

Twenty years ago this month, Harvard Business Review wrote about the very latest in workplace trends for office space. At the time, innovative companies were adopting the Alternative Workplace Strategy of hoteling—the emerging office trend of dynamically scheduling the use of workspaces—as a means to saving money and working more efficiently. Under this approach, employees (particularly sales people and remote workers) were encouraged to limit their time in the office and share office work stations when they needed to come into the office.

The Harvard Business Review article highlighted my work as the initiator and implementer of this very approach at AT&T. In our situation, we needed money to invest in our employees, and headquarters said we needed to find it ourselves. We found it in hoteling.

Fast forward to today. With a commitment to sustainable growth and workforce flexibility, a new group of innovative companies is raising the bar again by utilizing enabling new technologies. I am honored to play a role at one of those companies, whose goal is even more aggressive: eliminate office space completely!

As a member of the Board of Directors of eXp World Holdings, I have had a front-row seat to the spectacle and brainchild of CEO and founder, Glenn Sanford. Significantly, his vision for an agent-focused real estate company included the seemingly radical idea of an organization without offices.

The company describes their virtual world this way:

“eXp World is the eXp Realty online interactive campus. Agents from across 49 states and 3 provinces in Canada as well as staff working around the globe create digital avatars that at first blush might remind you of popular video games like Minecraft or Fortnight. But in the fast-moving world of real estate, they aren’t playing games. Rather, agents visit virtual offices on a “campus” complex for support on everything from transactions in progress to IT support. Staff welcomes agents into these “offices” or may simply initiate a casual chat on a “bench” overlooking the “water.” 

Agents can embody the eXp core value of fun by dressing their look-alike avatars as they wish or even taking a speed boat out on the lake for a spin. Most of all, agents appreciate the flexibility of a virtual office space. As all of this communication is happening online, the participants are actually working from their home office or on the road. By providing this 24/7 access to tools, training, and socialization for real estate brokers, agents, and staff, eXp Realty carries no expensive leases and can reinvest in additional agent support and technology.”

This game-changing company has caught the attention of many media. What has been described as a “virtual reality real estate company” became very real this month when eXp joined the NASDAQ exchange—and flirted with its first billion-dollar valuation.

How might your company redirect the expense associated with bricks and mortar to better serve your clients, invest in your employees, and create sustainable growth for your firm?

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Two Ways to Catch a Bus—Use Both

Military and business best practices have a lot in common:

  • Discipline
  • Commitment to teamwork
  • Focus on adapting to change
  • Seeming obsession of the top to meet the needs of those on the front lines
  • Focus on values and service

But many business leaders are missing out on one particular best practice in the military that would offer huge benefits—the after-action report process, a retrospective project evaluation used to determine effectiveness and efficiency, and propose adjustments and recommendations. It answers one question: What can we learn from the past that will help us be better in the future? In my work with Chiefs with and without titles, I encourage the adoption of this practice in business. In my view, it’s more important now than ever.

With the current “fail fast”/agile focus of many businesses today, managers are encouraged to move quickly forward. And while I am a fan of speed, experience has shown me that too much speed also has a downside—you don’t learn all you can from your mistakes.

I work with business leaders to integrate this valuable practice.

In fact, my counsel to business leaders at all levels often includes many lessons that may seem obvious, but part of my job is to help them retain and apply lessons that will help them succeed. Founder Tom Watson famously used a single word to guide managers at IBM to “Think.”

I often use the statement, “There are two ways to catch a bus: either leave early or run like hell,” toward the same goal. The understated message is, start early whenever you can. (At several client offices, managers distribute small buses as a reminder to employees to start early whenever possible.)

My clients also hold “bus reviews” to retrospectively discuss lessons learned after a project is completed. When did we run like hell, and could we have started out earlier to catch the bus? Growth and wisdom come from learning. And learning takes time.

When could you or your team benefit from a bus review?

There’s no doubt that there are times when running like hell is the only way to catch the bus. Companies should be comfortable failing fast and using speed as an asset. But there are also times when leaving early—and reviewing when leaving early could have made sense—is the best option.

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The Power of This Year’s Graduating Class

If you are a graduate celebrating this month or next, you have a lot to be proud of. You put in a lot of work to make it to the end. Congratulations! You should feel great. In fact, you should feel powerful. The power of this year’s graduating class is unconventional.

Power is traditionally associated with superiority, authority, title, position, and control. But in my view, this association is perhaps one of the biggest problems—and opportunities—we have today. Too many people are looking for the easy way out by asking others for answers to important questions when they should instead own the responsibility to take their own position.

I believe power is a choice available to everyone. My definition of power differs from conventional thought and aligns with what power really is today. To me power is clarity, influence, energy, confidence, and impact.

I created the Power Compass to show you how to increase real power in five main ways:

  1. Increasing discipline leads to increased clarity.
  2. Increasing support for others leads to more influence.
  3. Increasing insight and self-understanding leads to improved energy.
  4. Increasing alignment with your values leads to higher confidence.
  5. Increasing alignment of your creativity choices makes a bigger impact.

Members of the class of 2018 understand what real power is. And more importantly, whether you are a high school or college grad, increasingly you are using your power to effect change.

College campuses in the United States have long been places where individuals have challenged conventional power centers. More recently, high school students have joined the fight to challenge the status quo. My hope is that you keep it up. We need your clarity and energy to make us all better.

As you celebrate your accomplishments, remember to thank those who taught you what real power is. And wherever you go from here, please pay it forward.

The rest of us need you to be powerful.

Congrats to the graduating class of 2018!

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The Avengers Are Powerful—You Can Be Too

Many are enjoying the latest, record-setting Avenger blockbuster movie because it’s great fun to escape into a world where fantasy figures can wield a shield or a hammer, or wear a suit to fly, turn invisible, or display super-human strength. Who will reign supreme? We are fascinated by power.

In the real world the power that fascinates is also a perceived supremacy, but in the form of title, position, authority, or control. People are captivated by the power of others: who has it, how they got it, and how they use it.

In my work, I’ve been fortunate to learn from some of the most powerful people on the planet. These amazing individuals have taught me not only a different definition of power, but also a means to increase mine. One was a six-year-old girl with special needs.

These wise individuals taught me that real power is available to everyone by the choices they make in five areas:

Real power is influence, and it increases as we offer more support to others. Being powerful is more about giving support than getting support. Contrary to what you may have thought about power, service is the highest form of leadership. Serving others is a key to sustainable growth. And it creates the kind of influence that truly powerful people wield—the kind that resonates and uplifts.

Real power is clarity, and it gets stronger with discipline. Having power is more about creating an environment that encourages every individual to engage in their own form of self-discipline. That’s not to say discipline never comes from above, but by empowering each member of an organization to be accountable, discipline from above will not be required as frequently. Discipline brings clarity to any situation, increasing an individual’s power.

Real power is energy, and it intensifies from inside as our insight grows. Insight is an integral element of being powerful. A person with real power does not influence the world around him or her without consideration of the bigger picture that begins inside. From my experience with this vantage point, true growth—both personal and professional—is far more likely. Insightful individuals are able to tap into an internal energy that is felt by others as power.

Real power is impact, and it grows as we focus on our creativity. Creating the future is not about waving a magic wand. It is a concrete practice that serves the purpose of being powerful with a purpose. Creative solutions make an impact—on people, organizations, and societies. Real power sometimes comes from the unlikeliest of places.

Real power is confidence, and it rises as we better understand and live our values. What do you stand for? When you speak about your values and act accordingly, you increase your power because you are confident in your assertions. The power is palpable—and effective.

I hope you enjoy the Avengers if that type of movie is fun for you. Either way, I also hope you’ll think about the (super) powers of people in your life. Reflect on their energy, clarity, influence, confidence, and their impact.

You may want to ask yourself two questions: How powerful do you want to be? And who would you like to share your (super) power with?

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Working in the Key of Change

Rick Miller featured in Bentley Magazine article:

When business leadership expert Rick Miller ’80 imagines employees of the future, he sees an orchestra. That is, musicians with very specific talents: playing multiple instruments, harmonizing in a diverse group, and being able to work with sheet music and improvisation at the same time. The key, he says, is depth and breadth of skill sets, ability to connect into teams and adaptability to constant change.

Experts of every kind are making predictions about workplace trends in the next decade. Navigating issues related to technology, gender and age comes down to how well people can prepare for change, adapt to change and be the change that is needed.

Miller’s company, Being Chief LLC, helps senior executives develop their potential to lead. His three decades at Fortune 10 and 30 companies, nonprofits and startups have offered a front row seat to the forces of change. These days, that seat is typically not around a board table. An afternoon meeting might involve Miller’s avatar in a cloud campus, interacting with top managers and board members, half of them women, from around the country.

“That would have been unthinkable 20 years ago,” he says. “Today, diversity of all types matters; leveraging technology matters. Companies who get that are already outperforming those who do not.”

Miller’s musical analogy about tomorrow’s workforce resonates with Bentley management professor Tony Buono, who chaired the university’s 2017 faculty research colloquium on the future of work.

“In the past, if you had significant expertise and depth in a particular area, that was sufficient,” he says. “Today, industry is also looking for a broad understanding of the cross-functional realities of an organization.”


The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has sparked debate on whether humans will be replaced by robots on the job. Research by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company suggests it is misleading to focus on how AI will impact specific jobs.

“Very few occupations will be automated in their entirety in the near or medium term,” according to the report, Four Fundamentals of Workplace Automation. “Rather, certain activities are more likely to be automated, requiring entire business processes to be transformed, and jobs performed by people to be redefined.”

Susan Brennan, associate vice president for university career services at Bentley, sees promise in leveraging human traits to work alongside robots. “Computers will never have the heart, courage and brain for future-based thinking.”

Brennan’s must-have skills: empathy, critical thinking, humility, judgment and collaboration. 

Otherwise, she says frankly: “You will not survive the artificial intelligence revolution. Those competencies are what will allow humans to take technology to a higher level through decision-making and risk-taking.”


Melanie Foley, MBA ’02 remembers starting work at Liberty Mutual in 1996. The Internet and World Wide Web were growing but not omnipresent. Cellphones were expensive and anything but mobile. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 19 percent of women in the U.S. had four or more years of college.

Foley is still at Liberty Mutual, but points to changes such as “the speed and ease of global communication and an increasing number of women not just in the workforce, but who hold leadership positions.”

Over much of her career at Liberty, Foley took on sales and marketing roles of increasing responsibility within its U.S. personal insurance business. Her current work, as executive vice president and chief talent and enterprise services officer for Liberty Mutual’s 55,000-plus employees worldwide, focuses on talent, procurement, communications, real estate, and workplace services and strategies.

One constant: her support for gender equality in the workplace. Liberty itself has strong female representation overall (55% of all employees), on the board (30%) and across management (50% front-line managers; 35% midlevel; 30% executive/C-suite).

But that isn’t typically the case. According to a study by McKinsey and (Women in the Workplace 2016), while women account for almost half of entry-level professionals in corporate America, they fill only 19 percent of C-suite posts and 5.8 percent of CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies.

“That’s a lot of talent not being fully utilized at many companies,” Foley says. “By revisiting and revising their approach to recruiting, hiring, development and promotion, companies can affect the changes needed to bring more women into senior executive positions.”

Leadership development early in a woman’s career is a key factor in later success, according to Deborah Pine, executive director of the Gloria Cordes Larson Center for Women and Business (CWB) at Bentley. Research by McKinsey finds that, among young professionals in the initial step up to management, men are promoted at a 30 percent higher rate than women.

“Women are not only significantly underrepresented in the C-suite, they are also primarily in staff roles and not senior vice president line roles,” says Pine, noting that, in 2015, men accounted for 90 percent of CEOs promoted from line roles.

Training and development must cross genders and generations. Ernst & Young LLP, for example, is “constantly training and retraining employees,” according to Ellen Glazerman, executive director of the EY Foundation.

The organization aims to develop three mindsets it considers essential for the modern workplace. First, she says, is the embrace of analytics to manage data that “everyone is going to confront regardless of their job and location”; next is the adoption of innovation to “fail forward and fail quickly, then get up and keep going — but not without a risk assessment to ensure that your failure is never big and brings you closer to a better answer”; and finally is a global approach to “work with people from different backgrounds and abilities in a way that will find the best answers.”


As workplaces become more diverse — by age, gender, race, ethnicity, lifestyle and more — Buono says that people will have to get comfortable with change.

“It’s going to be very different, for example, as people in their 20s work with people in their 70s. There will be different expectations, learning styles and work styles.”

Reverse mentoring, through which younger people help older colleagues work with the technology that is changing organizational practices, will require some senior managers to put ego aside. Conversely, millennials and Gen Z will need to develop confidence to make suggestions — which may include taking advice from more seasoned coworkers.

“There will be much more decentralization and egalitarian relationships in organizations,” says Buono. “The ability to manage interpersonal relationships, understand our own feelings and exhibit self-control is going to be crucial.”

Foley sees many organizations starting to fully embrace diversity, which includes not only demographic factors but also backgrounds and experience.

“A different perspective is a fresh perspective, which can often generate innovation for a team, particularly if current members have overlapping skill sets and perspectives,” she says. “Embrace diversity, and you’ll usually end up with a high-performance ceiling for a team.”


Managing diverse teams poses special challenges for leaders, according to Miller. “There is an art to bringing talented people together, helping them feel good about what they do, giving them input into what happens, recognizing them and retaining them.”

Succeeding in the innovation economy also requires some soul searching. “As people learn more about industries and their skill sets, they will also need to focus more on learning about themselves,” he says. “Power comes when you develop and listen to your own voice, not the voice of a spouse or a well-intentioned friend or advertising. In a very left-brain dominant culture, the ability to better understand ourselves can really unlock a power that will accelerate great things.


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What Would Jason Bourne Do?

We had been in the meeting for about three hours. It was scheduled to be a day-long session and had been set up by the CEO who attended with his eight direct reports. The CEO’s goal was specifically to introduce his senior team to the idea of building a more powerful organization.

We had started the session with what I considered three easier topics of the five I wanted to introduce: discipline, creativity, and support. As expected, the group of nine had no problem linking increased focus in these three areas to being more effective. But it was time to pivot.

My experience has shown that companies are more powerful if their people are more powerful, and that people are more powerful if they can connect what they do to who they are. We had spent the morning focused on employees at the company and it was easy for attendees to talk about “others.” My early afternoon objective was to switch the conversation away from making others more powerful to making each of the nine individuals in the room more powerful. It was about to get uncomfortable.

The next topic was insight, and I shared that each leader would be more powerful if they could connect what they do to who they are. Insight is another way of saying self-understanding. This was more touchy-feely than some in the room were comfortable with. I saw people squirming. But when I introduced the importance of being “present” and one of the attendees asked a question I’d never heard before: “Is being present some of that Oprah crap?”—I had my opening.

I asked if anyone in the room was familiar with actor Matt Damon and the Jason Bourne character he played in a number of successful movies. Everyone’s hand shot up. I told them I had a favorite scene from the first Bourne movie I wanted to share.

At one point in The Bourne Identity, Jason is sitting at a diner table with his female accomplice who questions whether all his recollections of violence are real. Jason’s response is epic Bourne: “I can tell you the license numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy up at the bar weighs 215 pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is in the cab of the grey truck outside. And at this altitude I can run straight-out for a half-mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that?”

I asked the audience why would he know that?

The individual who asked the question had an answer. He said, “Because Jason Bourne is a badass!” and everyone laughed.

I said “Jason Bourne knew those things because he had trained to be present. When he walked into any situation, he wasn’t focused on the past or the future. He was all-in to learn all he could in the present moment.” Our group went on to discuss how this skill set could benefit those around the table and those they support.

For example, we discussed all that goes on in the team meetings that each leader held with their direct reports. They all agreed they would benefit if they were more focused on and attuned to the dynamics between their team members. Also, they all admitted to “meeting hangover,” when they often brought negative energy from one meeting into the next. I asked how many wanted to be more like Jason Bourne. For the second time, every hand shot up.

We went on to discuss other ways to build insight and wrapped up with an important discussion on values.

And when the CEO asked the members of his team at the end of the day what each took away as immediately actionable from our session, the Oprah guy said, “I’m going to be like Jason Bourne.”


The topic of being present is among other tips about how to be more powerful and build a powerful organization offered in Be Chief: It’s a Choice, Not a Title.

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Was Fred Rogers a Chief?

If you believe, as I do, that Chiefs are people who impact others in their behavior, then TV star Fred Rogers would qualify as among the more impactful Chiefs during his 31 seasons in the spotlight.

The power of Fred Rogers will be in full display in an upcoming film on the 50th anniversary of his first TV show on PBS in 1968. The soft-spoken Rogers taught countless children both the importance of being the best they could be and how to do it. He was the antithesis of the hard-charging and domineering character of Chief Executive Officer Gordon Gecco presented in the movie Wall Street that many to this day would associate with the word “power.”

With a calming demeanor and an ever-present cardigan, Rogers created a place where millions came over decades to learn about their potential. He taught us self-reliance, and he helped us build lives in the real world by taking us to his Land of Make Believe. Working with hand-puppet characters that we came to know and love, Rogers helped us understand that everyone has doubts, and that everyone can work through those doubts and become confident. The characters in the Land of Make Believe showed us that while self-reliance is important, it is just as important to stay connected and serve others as a member of a community.

He also offered specific lessons on how to do it: Be generous. Be grateful. Be present.

But perhaps Fred’s most powerful lesson was that of acceptance. He taught us to accept ourselves and do the best we can with what we’ve got, and that we are okay as we are. He also taught us to accept everyone around us even though they may not look like us, talk like us, or believe what we do. Everyone else is okay as they are, too. These insightful lessons taught children to be powerful in the best possible ways. With this complete flexibility, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood felt like an inviting place for anyone to learn and grow.

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Charity Partner Announced—Sammy’s House, a Special Place for Children

In my TED talk I shared a story about how a six-year-old girl in a wheelchair reminded me what a truly powerful Chief can look like. To this day, “Melissa” remains one of my most memorable teachers. In Melissa’s honor, I proudly share that Sammy’s House, a Special Place or Children, has been selected as the exclusive charity partner for the Be Chief book project. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the book will go to Sammy’s House. Learn more at

Sammy’s House operates as a nonprofit and provides services for children with and without special needs. The organization operates a child development center, a respite care program, a summer camp, as well as family support services to fill the gaps in services for children and their families. Sammy’s House believes that all children have the ability to learn and to contribute to the community. The organization is particularly focused on supporting children who are medically fragile and/or developmentally delayed, as well as their families.

Programs serve children 0 to 16 years old. The “house” is located in Austin, Texas.

Children at Sammy’s House learn the values of acceptance, compassion, and the art of caring for one another. These wonderful individuals each have a lot to teach all of us.


Pre-orders for Be Chief are NOW available on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The book will be published on September 4, 2018.

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