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Leadership In A Time Of Flux

I hope you, your families and friends continue to be well, safe and healthy. And I hope that you were able to enjoy some down-time over the July 4 holiday weekend. We spent the last week working and doing a bit of safe, distanced playing at our family home in Inverness, CA. Beautiful weather and very nice to unplug for a few days (as my photo above will attest).

I am returning to my weekly missive with an array of reading and listening materials covering, among other things: a great HBR piece on aspects of power and how to effectively use them; a series of articles and blog posts focused on various leadership dimensions; and three timely and searingly accurate pieces on the the very real struggles working parents (well, working moms mostly) and their children are facing in our tumultuous times. Ryan Holiday, in his blog, writes persuasively on the case for autonomy equaling success and (for the tech nerds), a Wired article on Marcus Hutchins and his travails in the dark web that ultimately led him to prevent a major Internet collapse is fascinating.

David Epstein’s TEDX talk on “Falling Behind To Get Ahead” is a great introduction to the fundamental concepts in his book “Range: How Generalists Triumph In a Specialized World.” I am reading this book now and it is excellent. A former journalist, his writing is as engrossing as his narrative is rich in detail and thoroughly researched without the burden of an academic tome. Lots to glean here. And finally, but by no means last, I highly recommend the short TED interview “Can Beauty Open Our Hearts To Difficult Conversations” by the artist Titus Kaphar. His work is stunning – a collection of visual reflections on race, racism and the (potential) healing power of art to offer a bridge/dialogue framework to these and other difficult topics. His narrative is as compelling as is his art. Truly moving.

Since my last writing, I had the great opportunity to be the featured speaker at one of the University of Chicago (my alma mater) Alumni Association’s career webinars. My talk focused on the “Transformative Power of Job Crafting;” you can access the talk and Q&A at this link. If you have interest in a deeper dive on this topic and its applicability to you and/or your team, please let me know.

The Transformative Power of Job Crafting.mp4

And prior to the July 4 holiday, I had the great privilege to serve as the moderator for the Consultants Collective’s panel webinar on the topic of “Male Leadership in the New World of Work.” Featuring fellow Consultants Collective member and leadership expert Lisen Stromberg, as well as Dr. Brad Johnson and Dr. David Smith, authors of the forthcoming book “Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace,” we had an excellent (and timely) conversation on the need for and positive power of male allyship in our modern workplaces. Lots of great nuggets here!

As always, happy reading and listening! And please stay safe and look out for your families and your community.

Take good care!


A New Prescription for Power. “The appropriate use of power is one of the most fundamental and contentious questions of the human condition. Leaders can mobilize energy for personal gain or for collective interests; to enhance potential or destroy it. A thoughtful approach to power requires a nuanced analysis of the intended and unintended effects of influence and close attention to the means as well as the ends.”

The Best Leaders Are Versatile Ones. “…The wider a leader’s lens on the world, the larger their repertoire of skills, abilities, and behavior, and the broader they are as a person, the more likely they are to lead their people, teams, and organizations to success in a rapidly-changing world.”

Psychological safety, emotional intelligence, and leadership in a time of flux. “Two renowned scholars and two McKinsey experts illuminate the leadership imperatives of our time: bringing people together, energizing forward progress, and reimagining normalcy.

The Best Managers Balance Analytical and Emotional Intelligence. “The analytic and empathic networks are waging a constant battle in your brain…The key to maximizing your effectiveness as a leader and having more productive relationships is learning to be more aware of which network is activated at any given time and being able to seamlessly toggle back and forth between the two as necessary.”

In the Covid-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job. You Can’t Have Both. “Our struggle is not an emotional concern. We are not burned out. We are being crushed by an economy that has bafflingly declared working parents inessential.”

What America Asks of Working Parents Is Impossible. “More and more, the goals of being a dedicated employee and being a dedicated parent seem to be in conflict.

Lessons from a Working Mom on ‘Doing It All.’ “…I’ve come to believe that the difference between going to bed feeling content or disappointed at the end of the day has a lot to do with the expectations we set for ourselves. Let’s lower our standards. Better yet: Let’s use this moment to shift them to something more reasonable. Here is how I’ve done it, by focusing on four simple principles.”

Your Professional Development Doesn’t Need to Be Put on Hold. “You can still seek out ways to stretch yourself or test out a new career path—even during a pandemic.”

TED Talks/Podcasts

How Vulnerability Can Be a Leadership Superpower. “Good leaders bring mentally healthy values to their teams and organizations. And that means showing weakness, at times, and facing the resulting risk of being perceived as a weak leader. But accessing that vulnerability is harder for some leaders than others.”

How Falling Behind Can Get You Ahead | David Epstein | TEDxManchester. “In a society hyper-focused on headstarts, we are told to choose our paths early, focus narrowly, and start racking up our 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. But a mountain of research shows that, among people who end up fulfilled and successful, early specialization is the exception, not the rule. winding paths and mental meandering can be sources of power, not disadvantages.”

Can Beauty Open Our Hearts To Difficult Conversations. “An artwork’s color or composition can pull you in — and put you on the path to having important and difficult conversations, says artist Titus Kaphar. In this stunning talk, he reflects on his artistic evolution and takes us on a tour of his career — from “The Jerome Project,” which draws on religious icons to examine the US criminal justice system, to “From a Tropical Space,” a haunting body of work that centers around Black mothers whose children have disappeared.”

Blog Posts (excerpt below with links to the full post)

The Definition of Success Is Autonomy. “Are you sure that ‘getting everything you want’ is what you actually want? Will it mean the ability to dictate what you do today? Will it give you control of your life—insofar as that is possible as a puny human being?”

Soft Skills Have Hard Impact. “It’s time we stop calling soft skills soft. Leaders who develop strong soft skills are priceless in the impact they can make on a company’s culture and performance. It’s time we switched out ‘soft’ for ‘precious’ or ‘priceless.’

Are we part of us? “Figuring out the best way to see and understand and care about the people we call ‘us’ can be difficult indeed. And essential.”

Arts, Music & Culture Corner

The Remaking of Steve Buscemi. “Steve Buscemi has seen it all. He was hit by a car and a bus as a kid, was once stabbed in a bar fight, volunteered as a firefighter during 9/11, and somewhere along the way became one of the most accomplished film actors of his generation. And then tragedy struck: In 2019, Buscemi lost his wife of over 30 years. In a rare interview, Hollywood’s most beloved misfit opens up about anxiety, loss, and the hard work of getting through it all.”

The Confessions of Marcus Hutchins, the Hacker Who Saved the Internet. “At 22, he single-handedly put a stop to the worst cyberattack the world had ever seen. Then he was arrested by the FBI. This is his untold story.”

Watch Bono Introduce All-Star Cover of ‘Beautiful Day’ on ‘Dear Class of 2020’ Special. “Finneas recruits Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Camila Cabello, Ty Dolla $ign, Tove Lo, Khalid and more for ‘remix’ of U2’s 2000 hit.”


“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” Rev. Peter Marshall, pastor, US Senate chaplain

“Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.” Khalil Gibran

by Nic Askew

We are fragile. You and me.

Though we act strong,
our lives are
held together with
thoughts of where
we might be tomorrow.
And of disappointed

At any moment we might shatter.
We might fall to our knees
weighed down by the terror
of being so far from 

our own control.

Dare we look up, we’d not know
where to go or what to do.

We are fragile. You and me.

If we were to turn to each other,
we might see the whole world
on their knees.

Hurting, and seemingly

But none of us are.

We are fragile together.

Kevin Jordan

Kevin Jordan is an International Coach Federation-certified executive coach who serves as a strategic advisor, mentor and facilitator to executive leadership teams and private clients to achieve peak performance and agility resulting in sustained engagement and value. Drawing upon a career as a leader and consultant, Kevin is able to work with clients on personal and professional development, relationship optimization and team and leader dynamics. He has deep expertise and experience developing and realizing strategic vision through a relentless focus on optimized business operations. He is also skilled at building sustainable culture and workforce engagement through the power of people and organizational partnership, as well as delivering results and value with high performing teams during periods of intense change.

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