Stories, perspectives and words of wisdom to help you lead.

I’ve been reading How to Lead by David Rubenstein. The book is a collection of interviews with past Presidents and other government leaders, CEOs and Founders and many others who have achieved the highest level of success in their profession.

One of my favorite interviews is with Presidents Clinton and Bush. It’s both informative and funny. Even more important now is their message that two people can respectfully disagree and maintain a friendly relationship. 

The book is definitely worth reading for the insights into each leader, different perspectives and words of wisdom. With that said, a common theme emerged.

Equality

Several leaders acknowledged the existence of inequality and the need to address it. Most focused on the need to improve the public school system. However, Melinda Gates had additional perspectives on equality that are noteworthy. 

Melinda talked about how every life has equal value no matter where the person lives. It’s one of the reasons the Gates Foundation works in developing countries rather than exclusively in the United States.

The idea that every life has equal value is the foundation needed for addressing inequality. Achieving equality requires a fundamental change to our mindset that will be hard to instill broadly if leaders don’t also walk the talk.

Walk the Talk

Melinda also talked about her time at MicroSoft. She talked about her love of the energy, the work and the impact Microsoft was making on the world. Everything sounded good until she talked about the negative impact of the culture. 

The abrasive culture was turning her into a person she didn’t like. It changed how she behaved internally and even affected how she treated others outside the organization. So much so that she considered leaving Microsoft.

As a last ditch effort, she gave herself permission to be herself and to lead in a way that felt right for her. Her more inclusive and collaborative approach reportedly worked out well. She stayed at the company and was able to get the engagement and support needed to be an effective team leader.

How many women are skipping the last ditch effort and leaving your organization? Do they feel empowered to lead in a way that feels authentic or to ask for what they need to be more successful? Statistically, 80% will leave if they feel abused.

Was that okay?

Oprah talked about all the people she interviewed, no matter how successful, asked one thing, “was that okay?”

Whatever “that” was at the time, it was more than okay but the person needed the validation. People want to be heard, they want to be seen and they want to be acknowledged no matter who they are.

Are you listening for the “was that okay?” and validating people for who they are and what they bring to your organization.

Homeless

There is a promising new study out of Canada that had some surprising and “beautiful results”. I was able to speak with the Canadian Research Chair who completed the study and got some interesting insights.

They are estimating that 50% of the homeless could be helped with a simple “hand up”. They are currently raising funds for their expansion project and evaluating other cities to do more projects.

Some of the insights to my questions leads me to believe that many of the issues common in healthcare such as the lack of systems, data and coordination are impeding the solution for the homeless too. I’ve posted the responses to the Startup Community discussion. You are welcome to join.

Foundations can seed research projects but there needs to be a joint effort from the government and business community to solve the homeless problems. Needlessly, there are a lot of people 1-2 paychecks away from homelessness.