For Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-1920)

For Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-1920)

September 21, 2020

It takes courage to stand for something. And even more to fight for what you stand for. And it takes a remarkable amount of courage to fight in a way that reflects a deep, abiding sense of honor, consistency and fairness.

What I admired most about Justice Ginsburg was the equity in her fight for equity.

Her first big case was a challenge to a law that barred a Colorado man named Charles Moritz from taking a tax deduction for the care of his 89-year-old mother. The IRS said the deduction, by statute, could only be claimed by a woman, or a widowed or divorced man. But Moritz had never married. The solution was to ask the court not to invalidate the statute, but to apply it equally to both sexes and she won in the lower courts. When the government petitioned the US Supreme Court, stating that the decision “cast a cloud of unconstitutionality” over literally hundreds of federal statutes (and it attached a full list of those statutes), it became the road map for Justice Ginsburg’s career.

As President Obama said, “Justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t about an abstract idea of equality; that it doesn’t only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us. It is about who we are and who we can be.”

That to me was the point of Justice Ginsburg’s lifelong fight against injustice and inequity—the idea that if we as a society treat anyone as “less than,” the entire underpinning of who we are as a people is at risk. Equity has always mattered a great deal to me—the simple (and apparently complicated) fairness in our treatment of people.

And equity has been the foundation for the work of The Fedcap Group since its inception in 1935—where our founders fought against discrimination in the workplace for people with disabilities.

Justice Ginsburg’s life and, possibly even more so, her death, are a challenge to every one of us. “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

When great trees fall,

rocks on distant hills shudder,

lions hunker down

in tall grasses,

and even elephants

lumber after safety.

When great trees fall

in forests,

small things recoil into silence,

their senses

eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,

the air around us becomes

light, rare, sterile.

We breathe,

briefly.

Our eyes, briefly,

see with

a hurtful clarity.

Our memory, suddenly sharpened,

examines,

gnaws on kind words

unsaid,

promised walks

never taken.

Great souls die and

our reality, bound to

them, takes leave of us.

Our souls,

dependent upon their

nurture,

now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed

and informed by their

radiance,

fall away.

We are not so much maddened

as reduced to the unutterable ignorance

of dark, cold

caves.

And when great souls die,

after a period peace blooms,

slowly and always

irregularly. Spaces fill

with a kind of

soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, never

to be the same, whisper to us.

They existed. They existed.

We can be. Be and be

better. For they existed.

Maya Angelou

Mitigating Uncertainty by Focusing on Technology and Workforce

Mitigating Uncertainty by Focusing on Technology and Workforce

September 14, 2020

Last week I spoke about the importance of understanding and planfully building a floor load adequate to carry the vision of your organization. I enjoyed the many comments I received by individuals also engaged in the building of their company, sharing what they are doing to ensure that their floor load is sufficient for their vision.

Several people discussed how challenging it is to calculate the required floor load—to fully (or even partially) understand the demands of a yet-to-be-built future.

At The Fedcap Group, we have increasingly focused on two areas to mitigate some of this uncertainty: Technology and Workforce.

The smarter our technology and the more prepared our people, the more capable we are of accurately establishing an infrastructure capable of supporting our vision. We anticipate that 25 years from now Big Data and data analytics will be key factors to bring change to the way we function, including the way that we plan for and deliver services. According to Forbes Nonprofit Council, it is likely that artificial intelligence (AI) will provide better metrics in mental health, enabling us to identify engagement patterns, demographic indicators and healthcare usage among members of community systems of care. AI allows pre-emptive interventions for those with serious mental illnesses by learning patterns that lead to isolation and hospitalizations. We need to prepare for a data driven environment that far surpasses today’s use of data—and our technology needs to support this evolution.

We spend a good chunk of our strategic planning time constructing scenarios—what do we envision the demands of government funders will be 5, 10, 15 years out? Will they have moved fully into a managed care and risk bearing environment? What are the technological demands most likely to accompany changes in government funding? While this might appear a more amorphous discussion, trends in government funding are being explored by national and international think tanks. Triple Innovation, a think tank out of Sydney, Australia, tells us that federal and state governments invest $10Bn+ annually in science and innovation (Ferris, 2017) with government support for incubators and accelerators backed by venture capitalists occupying one end of the spectrum, and on the other end established organizations are collaborating with research partners. Triple Innovation sees this trend continuing with funding requirements becoming more complex.

As it relates to workforce, most business leaders anticipate significant changes in the workforce of the future. The Brookings Institution is leading a Workforce of the Future Initiative that will provide a city-by-city analysis to attract industries that provide good jobs and to support workers transitioning to those jobs. It will help leaders identify which industries are likely to grow and decline, and the necessary occupational transitions necessary to host growth industries. Specifically, the initiative will answer the following questions:

—Given current industrial makeup and knowledge of their labor force, how can cities and regions attract growth and nurture good jobs?

—How can skill-building organizations and policymakers measure and target the skills demanded from emerging local industries to help workers, particularly the most vulnerable, transition effectively?

—How can companies use data on worker transitions to retrain and prepare their workforce for the jobs of tomorrow? How can companies invest in their workforce to benefit their community and bottom line?

Those of us in the process of growing our companies would be well served to pay attention to the results of this initiative and integrate the results into our planning.

While the future is clearly uncertain, and while understanding how to build a company with a floor load capable of withstanding its future demands seems daunting, there is a growing body of information that can support this critical task. It is our job as leaders to find it.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Building a Floor Load Capable of Bearing The Weight of Your Vision for Your Company

Building a Floor Load Capable of Bearing The Weight of Your Vision for Your Company

September 8, 2020

I have a lot of people in my circle who are very good at building things. They know how to design, lay out the steps, hire the subcontractors, develop the materials list, and most critically, ensure that the foundation is adequate for the building’s size and weight. All of them have horror stories about some contractor who cut corners in the planning and construction, and as a result the building had significant problems such as cracks in the foundation, cracks in the walls, the entire building listing to the right or the left, windows and doors that would not open—the problems can be endless.

I listened to their stories. And I learned from them, applying them to the work of building a company.

My team and I spend a lot of time talking about where we are going as an organization. We contemplate 3-5-10 years out considering our anticipated revenue, human resource needs, geographic footprint, governance requirements, number/types of facilities and more. We do this for one reason—we have to understand what we are building in order to understand our required floor load. (Floor load is the amount of weight that a floor (as of a building) may be expected to carry safely … usually calculated in pounds per square foot.) As one can imagine, the floor load of a $1 billion dollar company is very different from that of a $300 million dollar company.

We talk to leaders of large multi-national companies, in both the for-profit and nonprofit sector, to learn about how they have positioned themselves for growth and expansion including how they plan for their IT, HR and facilities solutions.

We conduct significant due diligence to ensure that the technology investments we make today are sufficient for our anticipated future.

We map out the countries in which we may be doing business, learning legal implications as they relate to governance, human resources, banking regulations, taxes, partnerships, etc. It is too late (or too risky) to learn about a country’s rules and laws after we have won a bid.

We imagine the kind of talent we will need, ensuring that we hire for today and for the future. The skill sets required to meet the needs of a very large, multi-national organization are different than those needed for a small company operating only in the US. Our Talent Acquisition Team must be working now (with universities and business) to create a talent pipeline capable of meeting future needs.

We research the governance requirements for each country within which we may do business and begin to build relationships to assist us in recruiting strong and influential board members.

We carefully consider physical plant needs—how they are changing due to evolving models in service delivery, remote work and cost. How much square footage does a multi-national company, doing the work we are doing, need? What environmental changes do we anticipate that will impact our physical space? We research the kinds of formulas can be applied to this planning with the understanding that too much space is as much a problem as too little.

Understanding where you are going as a company is not a simple visioning session for your strategic plan. Knowing—really knowing—the kind of company you are building, has direct and profound implications on the decisions you make today.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

 

Playing an Integral Part in The Recovery

Playing an Integral Part in The Recovery

August 31, 2020

Today the unemployment rate in this country is at nearly 11 percent. This translates to 16.3 million people being unemployed. And across the globe the unemployment rate is over 9 percent … exceeding all values since the Great Depression. We know families are struggling with access to child care and so many who have a choice are uncertain if they should send their children to school or keep them home to ensure their safety. Parents of children with disabilities are deeply concerned that their children will fall behind without their critical educational and developmental supports. People are struggling with their mental health in unprecedented numbers, with over 45 percent of people saying that they are experiencing anxiety and depression.

Jobs, education and health—the major components of long-term social and economic well-being are all in question for so many.

I lay this out because I strongly believe that the nonprofit community has an integral role to play in the recovery of our nation and our world. We know how to help people become job ready in new growth sectors, and we can leverage our relationships with business to help people find jobs. We provide child care and child development services to the most vulnerable. We provide educational services spanning the age spectrum. We assist individuals struggling with mental health and substance use disorders find their way forward.

The nonprofit community IS THE COMMUNITY most needed to fill gaps in our current opportunity landscape.

As the world struggles to regain its footing, even as COVID-19 seems unwilling to give up any ground, nonprofits are stepping up—and we need to continue to do so, even though the times seem perilous. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States alone and according to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, many nonprofits are facing an unprecedented demand for services. We have the opportunity to make a significant and sustainable impact if we thoughtfully and planfully examine our environment and put a stake in the ground—deciding to provide the right service, in the right way, with the right intensity to individuals who need it the most. We might need to let go of some things we once did in order to provide what is needed now.

Yes, there have been disruptions in our funding streams—and this likely will continue. Yes, there has been some hesitancy in the philanthropic environment to fund new endeavors. And yes, staff and clients alike face uncertainty. But this is the time when character and smart leadership shows. When commitment to something bigger than ourselves seems all the more relevant and allows us to do things we never thought possible. This is the time for nonprofits to develop new and powerful partnerships with business, with media, with banking and with local community leaders. We are a critical and needed component of the recovery process and what we do matters.

Metrics Provide Us With ACTIONABLE Information

Metrics Provide Us With ACTIONABLE Information

August 17, 2020

I am continuing the discussion of metrics today, moving into the issue of gender, race and pay. The national data is clear—there is a gender pay gap, and a further pay gap when you combine gender and race.

The gender wage gap refers to the difference in earnings between women and men. For years, experts have calculated this gap in a variety of ways, coming to the same conclusion: Women consistently earn less than men, and the gap is wider for most women of color. Analyzing the most recent Census Bureau data (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Women in the labor force: a Databook,” Washington: U.S. Department of Labor, 2018) women of all races earned, on average, just 82 cents for every dollar earned by men of all races. And for women of color, the gap is worse—Black women earn 62 cents and Hispanic women earn 54 cents for every dollar earned by men of all races.

These numbers are not insignificant—especially when studied over time. If you consider the work life for most individuals to be approximately 40 years—this means a difference in earnings of $557,000 for white women, $941,600 for Black women and $1,121,440 for Hispanic women.

As you can see, pay equity matters. Combating national trends can occur at the national and state level with pay equity legislation—and that is important. But it also takes time.

So, what do we as leaders do to change this reality in the environment that we control?

Just like tackling any complex issue, we need to know what we know and what we don’t know. We need to compile data, and then ask a lot of questions about those data. We need to understand what is happening within our organization. As part of The Fedcap Group’s Metrics That Matter initiative, we analyze employee demographic metrics on a quarterly basis. We look for patterns in hiring, salaries and promotions by race and gender, both across the organization as a whole and within our individual companies. Then we share the information.

Combating inequity in pay requires education and transparency within HR and among hiring managers.

  • It requires rigor—including standardization in job descriptions, job titles and pay scales.
  • It requires diverse recruitment activities.
  • It requires culturally sensitive interviewing.
  • It requires an analysis of hires and careful review of any deviations from equitable, established pay scales.
  • It requires a commitment to getting it right, each time.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Using Metric Frameworks to Create a Learning Community

Using Metric Frameworks to Create a Learning Community

August 10, 2020

Over the past three weeks, I have been focusing on the use of metrics in building a sustainable, relevant organization that makes measurable impact in the lives of the people it serves. We have discussed creating a data-driven decision-making model, developing a culture of curiosity about data within staff, and presenting (analyzed) information in a way that tells the story of organizational impact in a meaningful, understandable, and compelling way.

This week, I would like to talk about using a metrics framework to create a community of learning within and across business units of an organization.

The Fedcap Group comprises companies spanning the US, Canada and the UK. The individual strategic plans of each company roll up to an organizational-wide plan that lays out four major Strategic Goals for 2020-2025.

Every company of The Fedcap Group:

  • Consistently achieves a 12% margin, allowing us to continue to invest in state-of-the-art technology, top talent, agency-wide professional development, and critical facility upgrades.
  • Exceeds contractual and regulatory requirements.
  • Amplifies its impact by providing services that are not contractually required to families of individuals served (i.e. providing early intervention and child development services to the children of the adults involved in our programs).
  • Develops and implements solutions that impact the design and delivery of government services—resulting in an overall improvement in the outcomes.

The Fedcap Group holds weekly Zoom calls, where company Presidents/Executive Directors discuss a variety of topics germane to the overall corporate health of the organization. Increasingly, we are using data as the foundation for these discussions. Take, for example, the strategic goal of exceeding contractual and regulatory requirements. While we have assisted company executives by developing contract management tools that they can use if they choose, the most important aspect of contract management is building teams of people who are able to articulate contract goals, understand methods of measurement, participate in consistent data collection, have developed processes for review of metrics, and have the ability to rapidly course correct as indicated.

This is no small task. Especially given the fact that a good number of our companies have over 50 government contracts.

During our last several Zoom meetings, several company leaders have shared their framework for contract management. It was interesting to see how different and how similar the models were. While the intricacies of the models were different, every company that is successful in managing contracts each has the following:

  • a written protocol in place;
  • a framework that is well understood by the team;
  • frequent reporting timeframes;
  • established points in time to review outcomes; and
  • well documented steps to improve outcomes when required.

Most had some form of alert system (green, yellow and red) that highlighted to the team the urgency of the contract issue. 

Sharing these frameworks and encouraging discussion around implementation and strategies for course-correction helps develop a culture of cross-company learning and minimizes the need for each company to reinvent the wheel. 

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Metrics: What Do You Want Your Audience to Learn?

Metrics: What Do You Want Your Audience to Learn?

August 3, 2020

Over the last several weeks I have discussed the importance of metrics in terms of the sustainability, relevance and impact of an organization. I explored the importance of creating a culture where data is a driving force, building an employee base that is curious and uses data to ask more and better questions. Today I would like to focus on what I believe has been a major issue in leveraging data to make a case—a poor presentation of the metrics.

Data is just a set of numbers until we take the time to analyze it and decipher what it is actually telling us. And how we present the analyzed data matters almost as much as the data itself. How many of us have received decks of PowerPoint slides filled with grids with absolutely no analysis? Slides where we have to use a magnifying glass to be able read them? A mass of numbers in a chart is not information. It is just a set of numbers. And until we take the time to sit with them, contextualize them in terms of trends or projections, ask follow-up questions and turn the data into usable information, they are mostly meaningless.

A presentation of data needs to be organized to tell a specific story to the intended audience. It needs to be sequenced to ensure that it has, like every good story, a beginning, a middle and an end. It needs to have an arc—laying the foundation and highlighting what you want the audience to remember.

Presentations that start in the middle of the story, seem to be random in how the data is laid out, and fail to lead the audience through the process and learning are rarely successful. I have observed many people work for long hours on a presentation only to miss the mark because they did not think through the process of telling the story.

There are a few things that I look for when reviewing a metrics presentation:

  • LAY OUT THE PRESENTATION FLOW BEFORE YOU START TO BUILD THE PRESENTATION: Take time before building the presentation to lay out the key elements.
  • WHY: Remember, most of the time the audience does not have the background information that you have. When preparing the presentation ask yourself, what does the audience need to know first in order for this presentation to be meaningful? Consider the foundational slides that should be put in place, such as the rationale for the presentation, historical context, reason for digging deep into a certain subject, why the story they are about to tell matters to corporate or programmatic health.
  • WHAT: Next ask yourself, what are the salient points you want the audience to walk away having heard? Why do those points matter?
  • HOW: Next ask yourself what is the most effective way to present the information? Charts, graphs, short notes and narrative—a combination of the above? What kind of graph matters? A crowded graph that has way too much information on it loses even the most curious reader. If you are trying to show trends, then bar graphs are most likely the best choice. If you are trying to show % of the whole, then pie charts are a good choice.
  • WHEN: Is there a framework that you used to organize the data? If so, make that framework clear and sequence the slides accordingly--leading the audience through your thinking process, your framework.
  • THINK ABOUT THE SLIDE TITLE: Make sure that the title makes it clear what the data is about…“Year Over Year Trends in Company Growth” or “Second -Quarter Revenue and Year End Projections.” Think about what you want the reader to know as they start to review the data.
  • ADD UP THE NUMBERS: While this seems obvious, don’t make the reader add numbers. I cannot count the number of times I have reviewed data presentations only to have to add up numbers in columns. When this happens, I usually conclude that the individual presenting has not done the important analytics and is simply presenting numbers.
  • CONTEXTUALIZE THE DATA: Point in time data can certainly be important, but it is usually more impactful if it is contextualized by either trend data, comparison data or projections. For example, while it is important to know the number of women who work for a company, it is not helpful unless we know, for example, how that number compares to industry standards, or the company’s own history of employing women. And, in both cases, it’s important to know the proportion of women employed, compared to men.
  • HIGHLIGHT THE SALIENT POINTS: When reviewing a presentation, the reader should easily understand what is important. Notes, arrows, use of larger and different colored fonts all contribute to the telling of the story of what is important.

These are just a few of the important lessons I have learned along the way in presenting information. As always I welcome your thoughts!

A Data Driven Culture Requires Curiosity

A Data Driven Culture Requires Curiosity

July 27, 2020

Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.
Samuel Johnson

Last week I focused on why metrics that really matter are critical to organizational growth and sustainability. I would like to dig a bit deeper into this issue.

One of the challenges leaders face in trying to build an organization where data is the driving force, is getting staff to move past what they think they know to embracing what they do not know; creating a mindset and a culture of curiosity. It starts by hiring staff who are by nature, students of life—always learning, engage in reading beyond their field, have diverse interests outside of work, etc. Smart companies should be looking for people who are eager to learn what they do not know, individuals who are inquisitive, even if the things they are learning are not immediately useful.

Because curiosity is something I value in staff, I started to do some reading/research on the ways that company leaders are assessing curiosity and building a culture where people are eager to learn what they do not know.

There are a plethora of options leaders have to intentionally assess the curiosity of staff. Harvard Business Review cited a series of scientifically validated questions, drawn from extensive research on curiosity in educational settings and the personality traits associated with it. There are also Insight Assessment tools (California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory, INSIGHT Health Professional) that are used to measure inquisitiveness and intellectual curiosity. In 2009, Kashdan, Rose and Fincham published an updated version of their Curiosity and Exploration Inventory. They stated: “given curiosity’s fundamental role in motivation, learning, and well-being, we sought to refine the measurement of trait curiosity with an improved version.”

Why does this matter? Because curiosity leads to motivation and innovation. I found a great example of this that occurred at England’s Great Ormond Street Hospital. Apparently, the hospital was experiencing a number of casualties during patient transfers. Thinking about the sectors that are very good at “transfers” the head physician brought in a Formula One racing team to evaluate the hospital’s processes, asking them to make observations based on their own methods. The process recommended by the racing team (a three-step approach to triage) reduced the hospital’s errors by more than 50 percent.

I then began to wonder what within organizational cultures might thwart curiosity. I was intrigued to find a State Of Curiosity Survey, conducted by Harris Poll, that showed employees think curiosity should be more important but they do not feel supported in being curious. According to this poll:

• Only 39% of employees say their managers are either extremely encouraging or very encouraging of curiosity

• 66% say they face barriers to asking more questions

• 60% say their workplace creates barriers to curiosity into their work, and

• Only 10% strongly agree that their managers preferred new and unfamiliar ideas.

If we are to create data driven organizations where employees are committed to asking questions, digging deeper, learning what they do not know, we need to create a culture where curiosity is identified as a top priority, where it is safe to ask questions, where the act of questioning is encouraged. This culture starts in the talent acquisition phase and continues through day to day interactions with organizational leaders and is a major focus of performance evaluations.

Join me next week as we explore this concept further.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Stressing the Metrics that Matter

Stressing the Metrics that Matter

July 20, 2020

As leaders, most of us are flooded with data. Tons of data … and so much of it is not analyzed nor understood. As stated by Chris Brahm, Mark Kovac and Peter Guarraia from Bain and Company, “Given the proliferation of data and the new analytical tools designed to pull insights from it, one might think the measurement of business performance has greatly improved. Unfortunately, that is not always so. Too frequently, we find companies or functions within companies that simply measure the wrong things.”

The challenge for us is to do the important work to understand which metrics really matter—those that tell us what we really need to know about our work, and to build a culture across the organization where staff at all levels are hungry for the information.

A well-defined set of organizational metrics brings an organization together around a common set of goals.

At The Fedcap Group our work is driven by the following overarching goals:

Relevance: A commitment to continuous innovation and modernization. An organization must remain ahead of the curve—understanding the emerging trends in practice, funding and technology and how they impact service design and delivery. We simply cannot do what we have always done. If we do, we may continue to serve problems, but we will not really solve problems. Relevance means that the organization is positioned to thrive regardless of the inevitable twists and turns of the marketplace.

Sustainability: A commitment to long term financial health. None of our work is possible if we don’t remain financially healthy. Sustainability requires that we stay focused on core corporate health indicators, and we build strategies and accompanying structures to ensure our short and long-term financial health. Sustainability advances our ability to innovate and stay relevant.

Impact: A commitment to measurable improvements in the lives of those we serve. We are committed to solving problems, not just serving them. We have set bold goals and we measure our success against the national outcomes of vulnerable populations, not just those who walk through our door.

Every company leader is tasked with the following so that we can authentically describe our relevance, our sustainability and our impact:

1. Determine key performance indicators (KPIs)—what really matters, that advance overarching organizational goals, not just what we are required to report.

According to an article by Bill Dann, CEO of Professional Growth Systems, there are 3 types of measures essential for any organization: outcome measures, strategic measures and core process measures. Outcome measures show you where you have been, i.e., the results of your work. Strategic measures show you if you are making headway to your goals and vision. And core process measures show you if your systems are healthy enough to maintain your desired growth. It is an expectation that Corporate Services and every company of The Fedcap Group engage in the process of defining and measuring outcome, strategic and core process measures.

How many of us have spent time collecting and reporting on data that we know does not tell us anything about impact? While we all care about the numbers of individuals we serve, if what we do is not making a significant difference in their lives, does this data point really matter? While we care about the number of people who “complete” a program, does this matter if there is no real movement in an individual’s quality of life or economic well-being? These are difficult and important discussions that must occur before we spend a lot of time developing mechanisms to capture the information.

2. Establish methods to capture and report data on the KPIs.

This requires that organizations invest in accessible, reliable information systems that capture and provide timely reports on the desired information. It requires staff training and a culture that is hungry for knowledge.

3. Review the data with staff and course correcting as required.

Pragmatically, a measure is no good unless it results in action. And it requires a culture that promotes asking questions, asking more questions, not simply settling for a simplistic analysis of information. It requires action—that when the data tells us something, when we understand what it is telling us, we do something.

How the study of Metrics That MATTER can change an organization cannot be overstated. I will be focusing more on this during the next several weeks, exploring how to build a smart, inquisitive culture capable of getting this important part of our work right.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

The Connection Between Optimism and Achievement

The Connection Between Optimism and Achievement

July 13, 2020

There was a great piece in Harvard Business Review last week about the value of leading with optimism—especially in hard times. The article focused on the importance of demonstrating to staff the clear connection between positive energy and organizational achievements. This concept rings true for me.

There is no doubt that there have been many times when staff from across The Fedcap Group have struggled and been discouraged by the changes resulting from the pandemic. Through Staff Surveys, Brown Bag Lunches, Focus Groups and regular e-mail communications, I have heard staff concerns about loss of connection, fear of getting sick, and sadness at not being able to see clients and family. I sought to buoy their spirits by communicating a strong sense of purpose and optimism in the future. And I am optimistic. While I am deeply saddened by the loss of life, and troubled by the many small businesses struggling to keep afloat, I do feel that we will come out of this stronger, wiser and more resilient.

The best leaders that I know are intentional in their communications, helping staff see the connection between the direct line between their resilience and organizational successes. Strong leaders are able to describe in compelling terms the ways that challenges can strengthen an organization and evolve its collective thinking about all that is possible, regardless of the circumstances. They strive to inspire a sense of urgency in the work and a renewed strength of purpose that what we do every single day matters.

Highly effective leaders have a transforming effect, and the ability to bring staff to a place of achievement well beyond what they thought was possible. Their optimism is inspirational and contagious –enabling staff to overcome their fears and develop the resolve to achieve.

In one of my favorite books, The Wisdom of the Ego, Dr. George E Vaillant, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, describes individuals who have “both the capacity to be bent without breaking and the capacity, once bent, to spring back.’” That seems to be one of the gifts a leader can give to staff, role modeling this all-important capacity to bend without breaking and to spring back stronger.

As always I welcome your thoughts.