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Career Catalysts: Public Advocacy and Relational Authenticity

As 2022 draws to a close, many conversations with clients, colleagues and friends are focused on a strong finish to the year and preparation for new business and professional development challenges in 2023. Paramount to these discussions is the continued need for new and/or expansive professional growth opportunities. The catalysts for these experiences often lie in the quality and caliber of our “developmental relationships,” as argued by Herminia Ibarra, in her recent HBR article “How to Do Sponsorship Right.”

Career developmental relationships play a vital role in helping us define, develop and execute plans to achieve our professional aspirations. I have benefitted immensely from the great perspectives, insights and counsel of my personal board of directors – a diverse group of mentors, strategists, connectors, opportunity givers and sponsors. They patiently listen, question and advise. They also challenge me to think in new and different dimensions, a critically important process that has allowed me to holistically define and structure my professional arc. Their grace, generosity and wisdom have and continue to be wonderful gifts. Most importantly, their caring, commitment and dedication to me inspires me to pay it forward and support others as they move on their own developmental journeys.

Effective developmental relationships, predicated on “public advocacy and relational authenticity,” require executives and up-and-coming professionals to move past the transactional and focus on building rapport and infusing clarity of purpose in their partnership. The strength, trust and integrity of these relationships can help facilitate new opportunities for growth and career advancement. “…We become who we are with help and support from those around us, and we all yearn for authenticity in our significant relationships. The same needs and desires underlie developmental relationships in the workplace…If we want to realize the full benefits of developmental relationships—and ensure that members of underrepresented groups share equally in them—we need to create the organizational conditions that will allow a new model of authentic sponsorship to emerge.”

In addition, this edition’s collection reflects an eclectic range of reading and listening. Diverse in content and sourcing, these pieces offer a variety of perspectives that piqued my curiosity and desire to learn more. In particular, the Fast Company article that marries the concepts of psychological safety and radical candor is excellent as are both of Brene Brown’s podcast episodes with Adam Grant and Simon Sinek. They cover a lot of ground exploring the modern workplace in a very organic and free-flowing 90 minutes. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

As always, happy reading and listening!


Harvard Business Review: The Ideas That Inspire Us. “To celebrate HBR’s centennial, we asked eight current and former CEOs from some of the world’s top companies to describe the ideas that have propelled their own careers and organizations.”

Fast Company: Follow these 4 steps to create psychological safety in your teams. “It’s not necessarily about being comfortable all the time.”

Harvard Business Review: Revitalizing Culture in the World of Hybrid Work. “The pandemic has radically changed how employees experience corporate culture, and firms must embrace the new reality. ‘By relying less on osmosis to drive connectedness and more on intentionality,’ the researchers write, ‘leaders will see outsized impact on performance and intent to stay.’”

BBC Worklife: The death of ‘mandatory fun” in the office. “The pandemic put an end to required birthday cupcakes, team happy hours and forced ‘fun’ activities. Many workers are deeply relieved.”

Harvard Business Review: Do You Tell Your Employees You Appreciate Them?Recognizing employees for the good work they do is a critical leadership skill – and has an impact on morale, productivity, performance, retention, and even customer satisfaction… Managers who are rated in the top 10% for giving recognition are much more likely to have employees who report feeling engaged, confident they’ll be treated fairly, and willing to put in higher levels of discretionary effort.”

Harvard Business Review: Impostor Syndrome Has Its Advantages. “Basima A. Tewfik, an assistant professor at MIT Sloan, ran two field studies and two experiments examining employees who have ‘impostor syndrome’—commonly thought of as the feeling of being inadequate and a fraud despite a reputation for success at work. She discovered that these individuals adopted a more other-focused orientation in their social interactions. As a result they were rated as more interpersonally effective. The conclusion: Impostor syndrome has its advantages.”

Blog Posts & Opinions

Seth’s Blog: An Antidote.Gratitude might be the way forward. So much of what ails us gets a bit better when we say ‘thank you.’”

Gallup Workplace: Moving Beyond Hiring for Culture Fit. Culture add is a fresh spin on the concept of culture fit. Rather than making hiring decisions that create a homogenous, familiar culture, culture add promotes hiring decisions that focus on candidates’ unique and beneficial attributes, values, beliefs and behaviors. It is what they bring to your organization from their distinct perspective and experiences.”

Rich Litvin: 3 types of creator – which one are you? “Scott Myers is a screenwriter. His son, Will, while studying a doctoral program in music composition, developed a theory that there are three types of creators: Perfecters, Innovators and Synthesizers.”


Dare to Lead with Brene Brown: What’s Happening at Work, Part 1 of 2 with Adam Grant & Simon Sinek. “What’s happening in the workplace right now?…We talk about what we are seeing in organizations across the world—and there are definitely some trends that emerge. And so much learning. We talk about disconnects between what we know from data and what we’re seeing practiced. We also talk about what high performers actually look like and the most meaningful way to succeed.”

Dare to Lead with Brene Brown: What’s Happening at Work, Part 2 of 2 with Adam Grant & Simon Sinek. “…The three big topics we cover here: (1) quiet quitting—what it is, what it isn’t, what we think about it; (2) engagement—how you define it, how you foster it; and (3) boundaries—not just setting them, but also respecting them.”

Arts, Music, Culture, Literature & Humor Corner

Aeon: Surreal, audacious, unfinished – the Sagrada Família remains a divine work in progress. “The London and Barcelona-based director David Cerqueiro’s film Stone Cut is a brief profile of the Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo, who, for 40 years, has made finishing Gaudí’s would-be masterpiece his life’s work.”

Big Think: This 715-song playlist is scientifically verified to give you the chills, thanks to “frisson.” “Listening to some songs can cause a powerful physiological response known as ‘frisson.’ What is it, and why does it happen?”

The Atlantic: The Trait That ‘Super Friends’ Have in Common. “A secure attachment style can help people initiate and maintain friendships.”

Literary Hub: How the Trapper Keeper Shaped a Generation of Writers. “Jess deCourcy Hinds on the Most Popular School Supply of All Time.”

The New Yorker: I Want My Wife to Be My Partner, My Lover, My Therapist, My Blacksmith, and My Best Friend. “If you want a life partner who fulfills only two hundred or three hundred of your 45,730 emotional needs, go right ahead. But I’ll never settle for something that limited.”



by Mary Oliver (found in her collection “Thirst”)

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Small Kindnesses

by Danusha Laméris

“I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”


This article was originally published 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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