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Compassion and Accountability Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

This week’s collection reflects an eclectic range of reading and listening over the last month. Thematically diverse in content and sourcing, these pieces all resonated with me and with work I am doing with clients and colleagues. Highlights in the Articles section include perspectives on 1) the “great migration,” continued significant employee churn, and a call to action to address “generational mindsets” in recruiting and retaining early career employees; 2) the importance of workplace culture, including why and how many organizations are still coming up short, the effects (especially on women) of uncompensated “work” and the role leaders have in fostering both an accountable and compassionate work environment; and 3) what organizations can and should be doing now to re-integrate their new and existing team members as they navigate the next phases of an array of new work arrangements, as well as thoughts on planning for the future of work.

The three audio offerings are all excellent in their own right. I am making a particular plug for the relatively new Freakonomics of Medicine podcast. This initial episode is well-done and whether you are a runner or not, it is worth a listen (it’s a short one too). He presents his approach, framework and analysis re: the impact on care and survival rates for Medicare patients who experienced emergent cardiac events on the days of major marathons in the US (and how altered routes to hospitals and time lags in getting to them played out). Fascinatingly nerdy and very engrossing!

If you are looking for a great collection of essays and meditations on what it means to be a part of a human-centered planet, I highly recommend John Greene’s latest book entitled “The Anthropocene Reviewed.” Outstanding! [I am including a link to his equally outstanding podcast here as well: “The Anthropocene Reviewed Podcast.”] And for those wanting to revisit the Bay Area’s “orange sky event” of just over a year ago, there is a short piece and accompanying video in the New Yorker on that very bizarre, smoke-filled day (see the Blog section).

As always, happy reading and listening!


The New Yorker: Why Are So Many Knowledge Workers Quitting? “The coronavirus pandemic threw everyone into Walden Pond.”

Harvard Business Review: Dear CEOs: A Gen Zer’s Open Letter to His Future Employers.Kahlil Greene, a senior at Yale who served as the first Black student body president, takes us inside the conversations amongst Gen Zers deciding where to work. He offers unvarnished advice for today’s corporate leaders to build a bridge between generational mindsets and to help them understand what tomorrow’s leaders need to succeed.”

The New York Times: When Chance Encounters at the Water Cooler Are Most Useful. “Research suggests that initially meeting in person is helpful, especially for people who don’t work closely.”

BBC: Why the worst parts of work can’t easily change. “The pandemic was a golden opportunity to fix the most toxic parts of work culture – yet we made many worse. Why?”

The New York Times: Goodbye to the ‘Office Mom.’ “If cultivating a certain kind of workplace culture is important, it shouldn’t be extra work that goes uncompensated, researchers say.”

Fast Company: Facebook has a culture problem—but not the one people think it has. “The problem has not been that the company is a cult. The problem is the end to which that cult has been dedicated.”

Harvard Business Review: Managers: Compassion and Accountability Aren’t Mutually Exclusive. “…Some managers are wondering how to continue to balance compassion for the people on their team and accountability for getting work done. The good news is, experts say that it’s possible to have both. Rather than thinking of it as a trade-off between compassion and accountability, think about how you can combine the two.”

Harvard Business Review: It’s Time to Re-Onboard Everyone. “High turnover, the shift to hybrid work, and continued uncertainty about the future mean that your entire workforce may be feeling unmoored. These upheavals mean that even long-time employees — who have spent years building their reputations within an organization — may now feel they’re starting from scratch. That has enormous implications for performance, innovation, and well-being. By seizing this fall as a moment to re-onboard everyone, managers can boost team cohesion, performance, and well-being.”

Harvard Business Review: Future-Proofing Your Organization. “Drawing on research by Bain & Company involving more than 300 large firms worldwide in every facet of the global economy, the authors identify six practices for companies to follow as they regroup and reorganize for the inevitable recovery.”

The New York Times: They Still Live in the Shadow of Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes.Female entrepreneurs said they were constantly compared to Ms. Holmes, the disgraced founder of Theranos, who faces trial soon.”

The Atlantic: ‘What If the Thing You’re Waiting for Never Arrives?’Waiting for Godot is a classic that feels like it was written for the Delta era of the pandemic.”

The University of Chicago Magazine: A questioning life. Leon Kass, LAB’54, SB’58, MD’62, continues the conversation. “We live in a world in which the dangers and the threats to living a humanly rich life are legion, from the distraction of the cell phone and social media to the threats of degradation, of hatred and prejudice and inequality, to the dehumanization of new technologies. How do we keep the world safe for the highest human possibilities of heart and mind and soul?”


The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Greene. “The Anthropocene is the current geological age, in which human activity has profoundly shaped the planet and its biodiversity. In this remarkable symphony of essays adapted and expanded from his ground-breaking, critically acclaimed podcast, John Green reviews different facets of the human-centered planet – from the QWERTY keyboard and Halley’s Comet to Penguins of Madagascar – on a five-star scale.”

Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad #4) by Tana French. “Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy is the star of the Dublin Murder Squad. He plays by the books and plays hard, and thatʼs how the biggest case of the year ends up in his hands. On one of the half-abandoned “luxury” developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children have been murdered. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care. At first, Scorcher thinks itʼs going to be an easy solve, but too many small things canʼt be explained…And this neighborhood—once called Broken Harbor—holds memories for Scorcher and his troubled sister, Dina: childhood memories that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control.”


Freakonomics Radio: Introducing a New “Freakonomics of Medicine” Podcast. “Bapu Jena was already a double threat: a doctor who’s also an economist. Now he’s a podcast host too. In this sneak preview of the Freakonomics Radio Network’s newest show, Bapu discovers that marathons can be deadly — but not for the reasons you may think.”

TEDMonterey: How To Stop Languishing and Start Finding Flow. “Have you found yourself staying up late, joylessly bingeing TV shows and doomscrolling through the news, or simply navigating your day uninspired and aimless? Chances are you’re languishing, says organizational psychologist Adam Grant — a psychic malaise that has become all too common after many months of the pandemic. He breaks down the key indicators of languishing and presents three ways to escape that ‘meh’ feeling and start finding your flow.”

This American Life: Essential. “The pandemic forced jobs to change, but then the workers changed, too.”

Blog Posts

Seth’s Blog: Urgent Cultural Change. “Our response to change is often all we have control over. And the way we respond is how we create the next cycle of culture and possibility.”

MentorLead Blog: [Flash] Dip Dig and Dive.Dip-Dig-Dive requires intentionality – we must deliberately help other people talk about themselves and then actively (and authentically!) listen to respond and engage.”

The New Yorker: The Day the San Francisco Sky Turned Orange: On September 9, 2020, a convergence of wildfire smoke and fog cast an eerie tint over the Bay Area. “Humans often need an unignorable warning before being prompted into action—a siren wailing, a car horn blaring. On this day, the sky itself, blazing biohazard orange, sounded a silent but urgent alarm.”

Arts, Music, Culture & Humor Corner

Fast Company: Chicago becomes a museum to the devastating intersection of racism and climate change. “The MacArthur Foundation invited 29 of its genius grantees to showcase work exploring issues of environmental racism.”

Paste: Legendary Police Guitarist Andy Summers Talks New Book Fretted and Moaning. “…Fretted and Moaning reveals yet another side to Summers as a nascent literary voice, a refreshing twist from someone who has long established himself as a prodigious master of at least one, arguably two, other artforms.”

The New York Times: Return to Office Hits a Snag: Young Resisters. “A generation gap has emerged between them and colleagues who value the workplace over the advantages of remote work. Bridging it may require flexibility.”

The New Yorker: Shouts and Murmurs. “A Letter to My Future Child.”


“To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated. Education discovers an increasing richness in the past because it sees what is unfinished there. Training regards the past as finished and the future as to be finished. Education leads toward a continuing self-discovery; training leads toward a final self-definition. Training repeats a completed past in the future. Education continues an unfinished past into the future.” ―James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games

“I said: what about my eyes?
He said: Keep them on the road.

I said: What about my passion?

He said: Keep it burning.

I said: What about my heart?
He said: Tell me what you hold inside it?

I said: Pain and sorrow.
He said: Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

― Attributed to Rumi

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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