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The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve

This marks the first of several round-up articles over the coming weeks on approaches, points of view and visions for what thoughtful, 21st century leadership looks like.

As leaders, we must constantly adapt and transform our leadership perspective and competencies to maintain relevance and add substantive value. The global pandemic has only heightened this need, while shining a light on what constitutes successful leadership. Leaders will continue to navigate remote/hybrid work environments, the rapid pace of automation and dramatically changing employee expectations of effective leadership. As the authors note in the lead HBR article, What Does It Mean To Be a Manager Today?, a great starting point can be for leaders to focus on empathy and understanding our employees’ experiences and needs. As a bookend to this current research, I am dusting off Jim Collins’ classic HBR piece on “Level 5 Leadership” and the transformative power and outsize impact such leaders provide to their organizations.

Concomitant with the evolving role of leaders, is what, if any, leadership role CEOs and their corporations should have regarding broader societal questions and issues of equity, justice and fairness. And what will the impact be for firms that choose not to calibrate their advocacy to meet employee expectations? A case in point: the post from Jason Fried, co-founder at Basecamp, last week (and included below in the Blog section) sets out a more tailored vision for what his firm will commit to and one more in-line with what Coinbase proposed last Fall. Not surprisingly, reactions have been extremely divided externally and internally, where approximately a third of the firm is said to be prepared to accept severance packages due to the shift. This and other viewpoints provide a range of thoughts for our consideration re: CEO thought leadership and the future role of corporations in larger societal conversations. As always, happy reading and listening!



What Does It Mean to Be a Manager Today? “…To be successful in this new environment, managers must lead with empathy. This will require organizations and their HR functions to develop their managers’ skills, awaken their mindsets to manage in new ways, and create the capacity across the organization to enable this shift. The authors present a holistic strategy that invests in all three of those strategies.”

Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. “…The most powerfully transformative executives possess a paradoxical mixture of personal humility and professional will. They are timid and ferocious. Shy and fearless. They are rare—and unstoppable.”

Moments of Greatness: Entering the Fundamental State of Leadership. “…Over time, we all can become more effective leaders by deliberately choosing to enter the fundamental state of leadership rather than waiting for crisis to force us there.”

The Four Fs of employee experience. “These simple principles, based on the empathetic, iterative practice of design thinking, can help you help your people perform to their fullest potential.”

The Simple Principles of Good Management. “The most important things can’t be taught, they must be learned. Just because you can’t be taught what you need doesn’t mean you can absolve yourself from learning. You can learn the principles but you can’t learn the patience. You can copy the answer but not the understanding and confidence. These you need to learn on your own.”

DDI Global Leadership Forecast 2021. “This report examines responses from 2,102 human resource professionals and 15,787 leaders, spanning 50 countries and 24 major industry sectors. Published in partnership with HR Analyst Josh Bersin, the research summarizes best talent practices and provides key trends to guide the future of leadership.”

People Expect More From CEOs in 2021: Step Up Your Leadership with These 4 Tips.Level-up your leadership or lose your lead.”


In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1). “A gorgeously written novel that marks the debut of an astonishing new voice in psychological suspense.”


In the Bubble: From the Frontlines – How to Lead During a Crisis (with Sully Sullenberger). “Dr. Bob talks about the importance of leadership, whether it’s during a pandemic or a flight that’s lost all engine power, with Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. The parallels between the two might not seem obvious, but Sully points out that the basic elements of good leadership can be applied in any situation.”

TED Salon: DWEN. Possible Futures From the Intersection Of Nature, Tech and Society. “Biodesigner Natsai Audrey Chieza prototypes the future, imagining a world where people and nature can thrive together. In this wildly imaginative talk, she shares the vision behind her innovation lab, which works at the intersection of nature, technology and society to create sustainable materials and models for the future.”

Blog Posts
Jason Fried: Changes at Basecamp. “We all want different somethings. Some slightly different, some substantially. Companies, however, must settle the collective difference, pick a point, and navigate towards somewhere, lest they get stuck circling nowhere. With that, we wanted to put these directional changes on the public record. Historically we’ve tried to share as much as we can — for us, and for you — so this transmission continues the tradition.”

Rich Litvin: Clarity Or Confidence? “You don’t need clarity or confidence about the future, to get to your next level of success. You need clarity and confidence about your past.”

Arts, Music & Culture Corner

“How to Practice. I wanted to get rid of my possessions, because possessions stood between me and death.” (The New Yorker)

“Long Strange Trip. The Untold Story of The Grateful Dead.” (HBO Max)


“Great leaders invent the future they want.”

– Vinod Khosla

“The biggest returns come from advantageous divergence. It’s not enough to disagree with conventional wisdom, you have to disagree and be correct. If you bet with conventional wisdom, you get conventional returns. If you bet against conventional wisdom and you’re wrong, you look like an idiot. If you bet against conventional wisdom and you’re right, you’re a genius.

A lot of people prefer the comfort of a crowd to the responsibility of independent thought.”

Farnam Street, August 2, 2020

This article was originally published by Kevin Jordan here.

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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