Keep Leading!® Podcast 066 | The Purposeful Leadership Advantage | Jennifer McCollum

Keep Leading!® Podcast 066 | The Purposeful Leadership Advantage | Jennifer McCollum

Jennifer McCollum
CEO of Linkage, Inc.
The Purposeful Leadership Advantage

Episode Summary
I interviewed Jennifer McCollum, the first female CEO of Linkage, Inc! The mission of Linkage is to “Change the Face of Leadership!” Our conversation streamed on Keep Leading LIVE!™ via YouTube and Facebook. We discussed “The Purposeful Leadership Advantage.”

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Bio
Jennifer McCollum is CEO of Linkage, Inc., where she oversees the strategic direction and global operations of the Boston, MA-based leadership development firm. With a mission to “Change the Face of Leadership,” Linkage has dedicated 30 years to improving leadership effectiveness and equity in hundreds of organizations globally. Linkage provides solutions to Accelerate Purposeful Leadership, Advance Women Leaders, and Create Cultures of Inclusion, using assessments, training, coaching, consulting, and conferences.

For decades, Linkage has studied what the best leaders do, and amassed assessment data from one million leaders to surface the Purposeful Leadership model. Our research proves that leaders who generate the best results align their purpose to the organizational direction, and fulfill five specific commitments: to inspire, engage, innovate, achieve, and become. In 2019, Linkage isolated specific inclusive leadership behaviors and found they correlate perfectly to Purposeful Leadership, indicating inclusion is a proxy for effective leadership. Additionally, for more than 20 years, Linkage has addressed the challenge of advancing women leaders, surfacing specific hurdles that women face and competencies to overcome them. Linkage’s approach is captured in two books: Become: The Five Commitments of Purposeful Leadership and Mastering Your Inner Critic and 7 Other High Hurdles to Advancement.

Jennifer has 20 years of experience in building and managing businesses in the leadership space. Before Linkage, she spent a decade growing leadership businesses at Korn Ferry and Corporate Executive Board (CEB), now Gartner. She is an avid tennis player and skier and resides in the Washington, DC area with her husband and three children.

Website
https://www.linkageinc.com/

LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferscherermccollum/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/J_McCollum1

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/LinkageInc/

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/linkage.inc/

Leadership Quote
Harry Kraemer’s advice has been at the forefront of my mind over and over like a mantra during this crisis. He is the former CEO of Baxter and now a PE founder and “best MBA professor in NA” from Kellogg School (Bia school at Northwestern). He said EXPECT a crisis, and when it’s here, you need to “Do the right thing and do your best.” What does that look like?

  • Tell people what you know.
  • Tell people what you don’t know.
  • Commit to getting back to them when you know.

That builds trust & vulnerability!

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Full Episode Transcripts and Detailed Guest Information
www.KeepLeadingPodcast.com

Keep Leading LIVE (Live Recordings of the Keep Leading!® Podcast)
www.KeepLeadingLive.com

Become: The Five Commitments of Purposeful Leadership

Mastering Your Inner Critic and 7 Other High Hurdles to Advancement

Additional Links
Jen’s latest blog: In Uncertain Times, Your Teams Need You: Double Down on the Commitments of Purposeful Leadership®: https://www.linkageinc.com/leadership-insights/in-uncertain-times-your-teams-need-you-double-down-on-the-commitments-of-purposeful-leadership/

Alan Mulally & Jennifer webinar recording from April 2020: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6371122732543536911

(The user must enter their name and email to access the recording.)

Jennifer speaking clip:
https://vimeo.com/389616117

Transcript

The key to sustainable leadership lies in the ability to thrive during uncertainty, ambiguity, and change. Grand Heron International brings you the Coaching Assistance Program, giving your employees on-demand coaching to manage through a challenging situation and arrive at a solution. Visit GrandHeronInternational.Ca/Podcast to learn more.

This podcast is part of the C Suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

Welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast, the podcast dedicated to promoting leadership development and sharing leadership insights. Here’s your host, The Leadership Excelerator®, Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:

Well, well we are officially live and I’m always so excited when this day happens. Yes, two thumbs up, Jennifer. It’s so good to see you.All right. Well, hello, everyone! Those of you who are joining us, will join us on Facebook and YouTube, welcome to Keep Leading Live, the video version of the Keep Leading!® Podcast. Keep Leading Live and the Keep Leading!® Podcast are dedicated to leadership development and insights. I’m your host Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®. I work with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact through the power of professional speaking, facilitation, and coaching.

Today, we are live streaming on YouTube and Facebook as we do every Monday. Normally, it’s at 1:10 Central Time. Today, we’re delayed an hour but I delayed the show five hours to get on this busy CEO’s calendar. It was extremely difficult and I’m super thrilled to have Jennifer McCollum joining me. And we want you to know I always have to make my adjustments here.

Let me tell you a small story. I looked at the website and here’s what I saw. Our mission is to change the face of leadership. When I saw those words on the site of Linkage, I was beaming. It is a powerful yet simple message and it’s something I deeply believe in and it’s the reason that the Keep Leading!® Podcast and the Keep Leading Live exist. So, I had to meet and introduce myself to the CEO of this amazing organization and that is Ms. Jennifer McCollum.

Let me tell you a little bit about Jennifer McCollum. She is the first female CEO of Linkage Incorporated where she oversees the strategic direction and global operations of the Boston, Massachusetts-based leadership development firm. With a mission to change the face of leadership, Linkage has dedicated 30 years to improving leadership effectiveness and quality in hundreds of organizations globally. For decades, Linkage has studied what the best leaders do and amassed assessment data from one million leaders to service the purposeful leadership model and I find that quite impressive.

So, officially, let me say, welcome, Jennifer McCollum to the Keep Leading!® Podcast and Keep Leading Live stream.

Jennifer McCollum:
Eddy, thank you so much. It is such a pleasure to be here. I have been looking forward to this webcast for quite a number of weeks, frankly, since I met you way back in January, about the last time we were allowed to see each other face to face.
Eddie Turner:
Yes, yes, about the last time we were able to see each other face to face. Speaking of that time that we saw each other in January, do you remember this?
Jennifer McCollum:
Yes! Of course, I do. You’re looking good.
Eddie Turner:
That’s because I’m standing next to you. So, I was thrilled to be able to get a chance to meet you. I heard about you from our mutual friend Tom Colditz, Gen. Colditz who’s doing some amazing work. He just raves about you and your organization.
Jennifer McCollum:
Well, I had the privilege of meeting Gen. Tom Colditz when I started as CEO of Linkage about two years ago. He was on our board of directors and he’s been a mentor and a friend to me personally and to Linkage. So, I’m very grateful to Tom.
Eddie Turner:
Yes, yes. Well, wonderful. And I see you all have done some great things together. And we don’t know how things will shape up but, hopefully, one day we’ll all be able to get together again.
Jennifer McCollum:
You’re not kidding. I think we’re getting better and better at engaging in the virtual environment but there is something about face to face that’s just really hard to replicate. So, it is my hope and dream that we’ll be back on the planes and engaging face to face as soon as it is safe.
Eddie Turner:
Yes, absolutely. I loved what I saw in terms of the work that you’ve been doing around purposeful leadership. Just that phrase says a lot but I understand a lot goes into that phrase. Tell me a little bit about that.
Jennifer McCollum:
So, thank you, Eddie. The reason I joined Linkage a couple years ago was because, as you so beautifully read, I believe very strongly in the mission of Linkage, which is to change the face of leadership. And the way we do that is to accelerate purposeful leaders and to advance women leaders and other underrepresented populations but getting back to your question around purposeful leadership, one of the things that drew me to Linkage was it’s 30 years of history in studying leaders and working with organizations globally to support developing leaders against what we now know to be true and that is what we call purposeful leaders are the most effective leaders. And I can get way down deep into the data of what a purposeful leadership means to Linkage but let me pause there for a moment and see if you want to take it somewhere else.
Eddie Turner:

I love that. I love what you’re saying. I love the fact that you actually let me back in. You are a professional interviewer. It’s a beauty. I think that’s great, the intentionality behind what you’re doing in the depth.So, I want to hear more about that but I also want to just say welcome to those who’ve joined us. We have several that have joined us from Facebook and on YouTube. Let us know you’re here. Say hello. Tell us who you are, where you’re from and if you have a question.

If you’re not already following Jennifer McCollum, follow her on social media. She’s on LinkedIn. And follow Linkage.

So, yes, go ahead and continue, Jennifer, please.

Jennifer McCollum:

No problem. So, as I said, we’ve been studying about a million leadership data points which, again, can get a little nerdy for a moment. We looked at about a hundred thousand leaders that we’ve been working with across the last couple of decades. And over the last five or six years, we amassed all of our data and we looked really specifically at what was surfacing to answer a really specific question and that is what is it that the very best leaders do. So, we looked at that data, we looked at our experience, we looked at academic literature, and we looked at practitioners in the field and we pulled all that together through a really robust research effort about five years ago and we surfaced what’s called the Purposeful Leadership Model. And I’ll tell you two things about that.First, the best of our leaders are very grounded in their personal why – what is their personal purpose. And they’re able to align that to the organizational vision or organizational strategy. That’s number one.

The second thing we learned was that the very best leaders make five very specific commitments, whether or not they know they’re doing that, and these are the very commitments that their stakeholders expect of them. and I’m going to rattle them off and then we can talk about them further, if you’d like.

Eddie Turner:
Please.
Jennifer McCollum:
The first four are what is easy to observe by what leaders say and what leaders do and they are Inspire, Engage, Innovate and what we call Achieve. The last one is a little trickier to see. It’s that internal path to leadership and we call that Become. And that is actually so important that we’ve titled our book What There Is.
Eddie Turner:
Yes, there it is. Let me make sure we let everybody see that.
Jennifer McCollum:

And Become is that inner path to leadership. It’s that self-awareness that I have as a leader, that you have as a leader, the courage, the conviction, and the commitment to get better as a leader every day.So, those are the five commitments that we can measure, we can develop. There’s a whole lot of complexity underneath the commitments, the competencies and the skills that leaders can develop to get better, but one thing that we strongly believe at Linkage is that you need to be self-aware enough. And sometimes it’s hard. You need feedback from others, you need assessment data, you need a coach to help you realize where are your strengths and maybe where are your blind spots.

Eddie Turner:

Yes, I like that. And interesting that what you said there, understanding your personal why. So, thank you for sharing that in this nice list of five commitments that we need to be aware of.And I want to also acknowledge just briefly, as we see here tuning in, I have a comment from Evan Sanders. He says he’s just learning. So, he appreciates what you said there. So, welcome, Evan. Thank you for letting us know that you’re here. Thank you for giving your feedback.

We welcome others to do the same and to share your feedback with Jennifer, share your questions, and certainly follow Jennifer on social media.

Go ahead, Jennifer.

Jennifer McCollum:

Yeah, let me give Evan a little thumbs up because, again, the beauty of the Purposeful Leadership Framework is that it’s very simple, it’s very elegant, and it’s also very actionable. So, let me just talk to Evan for a moment.When we look at those five commitments, the first being Inspire, Inspire is about a leader’s ability to set an aspirational goal and to rally people around that goal. It doesn’t matter what level of leader you are, we all have goals and we all can inspire related to those goals.

The second one is Engage and this one is really important, especially in a crisis like we’re in now. Engage is about the leader’s ability to bring everybody together and feel a sense of belonging and a sense of “This is what I can do to support that goal and I feel like I’m heard and I feel like the leader is bringing me in.”

Innovate is about change – what do you need to do to shift and evolve toward that aspirational goal, either at the big blue-sky level or even at the simple process efficiency level.

And Achieve is really important. It’s about achieving the goals but not through you alone. It’s about the structure and the process so that the team can achieve the goal together

And, finally, Become. Again, Become is probably the hardest one because it’s about me, it’s about my self-awareness as a leader.

Eddie Turner:
All right, thank you for sharing that as well. And not only does Evan agree with you but someone who I haven’t talked to for five years chimes in. Linus Okorie says “You are amazing, Jennifer.” Linus is someone I went to Harvard with when I did executive education at the Kennedy School. He is one of the leaders in Nigeria and I haven’t talked to him in five years. So, it’s good to see that he’s chiming in. Thank you for letting us know you’re here and letting us know how amazing you think that Jennifer is.
Jennifer McCollum:
And I actually want to talk to Linus as well because one of the big shifts that we’re making at Linkage, and, frankly, it’s a massive trend right now, especially given the situation we have faced in the last 60 days, everything is being converted onto digital platforms. And so, whereas prior you might only get access to the Purposeful Leadership Framework through an assessment but you’d have to travel from Nigeria to our conferences or we have to travel there to do a live program. We’ve gotten really good in the last 12 to 18 months about digital access to these concepts. So, for someone in Nigeria, we can actually expose them to the Purposeful Leadership content through digital platforms in a self-service way and then we can get more and more complex on digital platforms with shared learning and cohorts and bringing communities together on the digital platform all the way up to executive level assessment and coaching but our goal at Linkage is to create access to our leadership development work regardless of what level you are and regardless of where you are in the world.
Eddie Turner:
And, certainly, that is helpful. And Linus said that he liked your five commitments for being a great leader. And Evans chimed in and not only he likes them but he listed them.
Jennifer McCollum:
Evan, you can go to our website. There’s actually a Purposeful Leadership Quiz where really quickly you can identify what are your strengths and opportunities related to Purposeful Leadership. And then, again, through that self-awareness with our book or with our online content we can support you in becoming a better leader right from where you’re sitting at your home right now.
Eddie Turner:
And Linus says that he has set up the most comprehensive leadership center in Nigeria and he would be glad to work with you. He’s done some pretty amazing work over there.
Jennifer McCollum:
Wow! All right, Linus, you and me, we’re going to talk.
Eddie Turner:
So, there’s something else I’d like to share, Jennifer, is that you showed the book Becoming but there’s another book where you have documented your research. Do you have that one next to you as well? We’ll just talk about.
Jennifer McCollum:
I do. Hold on, let me grab it.
Eddie Turner:
I didn’t mean to put you on the spot.
Jennifer McCollum:

No. Hey, we’re live, man. This is good.So, we talked a little bit about the data we’ve been gathering on leaders writ large across the last 30 years. Linkage is one of the only companies in the world that has been studying the advancement of women for 25 years and we’ve run Women in Leadership Institute for 21 of those years. This is our book called Mastering Your Inner Critic and Seven Other High Hurdles to Advancement. The other reason I loved joining Linkage was because of this research that we’ve done, which is around women and now we’re doing a lot more on inclusion. So, we’ve identified very specific hurdles to women’s advancement that are different than the traditional path men have taken to leadership and what are the competencies that will help women overcome those hurdles. And just like our broader leadership work, we have assessments and development and coaching and consulting and a big Institute to support the advancement of women leaders. And we’ve learned a lot about that. It’s not just about helping women individually. It’s about helping the organization around the women to ensure that there’s the culture and the talent systems and the executive commitment required to advance women. And now we’re pointing that same work toward other underrepresented populations as well.

Eddie Turner:
Indeed. And you’ve done some fascinating work around this. And I saw an interview where you were quoted in Fast Company in October regarding the hashtag #NotWorthLess. You talked about how men can do a better job of supporting women. And I don’t want to put you in a spot and ask you to remember what was written almost a year ago but you talked about how as men we can be better supporters by being advocates and also by shifting our intentionality.
Jennifer McCollum:
I’ll even tell you a story about that, Eddie. And he’d kill me. He’s in the next room. It’s related to my husband. So, my husband, he would describe himself as kind of an amazing evolved human, happens to be a man and I agree he’s amazingly evolved. We actually put him through a one-day program he volunteered to go. We were testing a new program. It was around the really critical role of men as allies in the advancement of women. And he came back and he said “You know, that was amazing but I’m an individual contributor. I’m a sales guy. I’m not really in a position to support the advancement of women.” And I said “Actually, I really disagree. You are influential in your organization. You’re in many meetings where there are a mix of genders where men tend to be, like in most organizations, where fewer than 20% of the senior leadership is women across industries.” I said “You’ve got an amazing seat to support advancement of women. You can ensure that when you’re in a meeting you’re making sure that women are able to speak at the time, they’re acknowledged for their ideas, that the, what I call office, housework is equally distributed. And your role as an ally and a supporter and a cheerleader to bring women in and have them feeling that they’re belonging and at the same level is really critical no matter where you sit in an organizational hierarchy.” That said, you know a lot about the role of executives in the advancement of women and it is critical that executives and, let’s just call it how it is, most of them are still men, it’s really critical that they create a culture and an atmosphere and action and commitment so women can look up and believe that they’ve got a whole support structure there.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. And we will take a quick break to have a word from our sponsor.

This podcast is sponsored by Eddie Turner LLC. Organizations who need to accelerate the development of their leaders call Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®. Eddie works with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact. Call Eddie Turner to help your leaders one on one as their coach or to inspire them as a group through the power of facilitation or a keynote address. Visit EddieTurnerLLC.com to learn more.

This is Chester Elton, the Apostle of Appreciation, and you’re listening to the Keep Leading!® Podcast with the one, the only Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:

All right. So, appreciate the folks who’ve tuned in live. We are glad to have a couple of gentlemen who are willing to jump on the line. Evan is an emerging leader who’s a coach and Linus also, like I said, he’s a leader. So, we’d love to have anyone else who’s listening to us live tell us that you’re here, ask a question of Jennifer or give us feedback, as we’ve already received.What I’d like to do now is pause. We’re having a great conversation with Jennifer McCollum, the first CEO of Linkage Incorporated. And I’d like to just take a quick pause and acknowledge a few individuals that help make the Keep Leading!® Podcast and the Keep Leading Live stream possible.

The first I’d like to acknowledge is going to be Grand Heron. Grand Heron is one of my paid sponsors, Grand Heron International. The key to sustainable leadership lies in the ability to thrive during uncertainty, ambiguity, and change, giving your employees on-demand coaching to manage through a challenging situation and arrive at a solution. Visit GrandHeronInternational.Ca/Podcast to learn more. So, they are a tremendous supporter. I appreciate their paid ad.

And then I have another supporter of the podcast that I would like to acknowledge. I’m sorry for the delay in the transitioning here. The next supporter that we’d like to acknowledge, the one that I’m also pretty excited about. Many folks enjoy Goodreads, the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Their mission is to help people find and share books they love. Well, now, there’s Goodpods, the social app brought to you by the former MSNBC host of Your Business JJ Ramberg and her brother Ken. Their mission is to help people find and share podcasts they love. Visit Goodpods.com to learn more. I am a big fan of this app and on their site you get a chance to read more about them and you can download the app. Goodpods.com.

And then my final one that I would like to acknowledge, not a paid sponsor, but certainly someone who I am excited to have with me today on the show. So, I want to tell you that at Linkage, we believe that leaders are not born. They are made from their experiences. Leaders are the driving force behind your most important asset, your people. Everyone, regardless of their role, can continually develop into a more effective leader. Visit LinkageInc.com to learn more.

All right. So, that’s all for our ads.

Jennifer McCollum:
That’s awesome. I’m going to look at Goodpods. I haven’t heard of that before.
Eddie Turner:

Yes, it’s new and it’s pretty cool. And, as we said there, it’s just like Goodreads which a lot of people seem to really enjoy.So, Jennifer, you said earlier in your research that you all discover what the most effective leaders do. If a leader is listening to our discussion right now, what’s one thing you’d like for them to be able to implement right away.

Jennifer McCollum:

I think I’d actually like to start to pivot to the role that inclusion plays in leadership effectiveness. And the reason I feel like it’s so important to talk about that right now is because in a world where a lot of companies have had to lay off staff, reduce pay, they’re making dramatic pivots in business strategy, the role of inclusion becomes really critical. And let me talk about inclusion as it relates to purposeful leadership. So, we already talked about the five commitments of purposeful leadership. We did some really important work last year. Everybody’s been talking about inclusion for the last 5-10 years, the role of diversity and inclusion. We really sought to codify what does it actually mean and how do you if you are inclusive.And so, to answer your question specifically, the role of inclusion, and I’ll give you some examples of what it actually looks like and how we measure it, are leaders showing empathy, are they showing concern for others, are they creating an environment where you can openly discuss and learn from your failures or your obstacles and your challenges. If you think about the work environment right now, those should be conversations we’re having every single day. Does the leader encourage the culture where people can speak up regardless of their experience or regardless of their background? So, there are a couple of the things that we measure when it comes to inclusive leadership.

Here’s the cool thing that we did last year. Of our Purposeful Leadership Assessment, there about 50 or so items that we test across all five commitments to offer a leader a snapshot into where they’re strong and where they have potential to grow. We took just the specific items that directly impacted inclusive leadership, so three or four of the ones I just spouted out to you. And there were 16 of them. And we took 16 of them and we correlated them to the whole 50+ that we measure. And what we learned is if all you do is measure those 16 items, you can predict how effective that leader is. Without getting too deep into the data, it correlates at a 0.92 which means basically if you’re an inclusive leader, you are an effective leader.

So, my message today is a lot of times when you’re in a crisis, you kind of forget about those things like “Let’s not talk about advancing women and other underrepresented populations. Let’s not talk about inclusion. We got to get this business running.” Well, the truth is you can’t get the business running if you’re not an inclusive leader.

Eddie Turner:
So, you’re saying the two are inextricably linked.
Jennifer McCollum:
That’s right. And, again, I’m a true believer in balancing the science with the art. What I like about Linkage is that we actually start with the science and then we create a lot of art around how we deliver it to our clients but the data is very clear. The most effective leaders are purposeful leaders and purposeful leaders are inclusive leaders.
Eddie Turner:
The most effective leaders are inclusive leaders and inclusive leaders are purposeful leaders. Wonderful. That is a good message for us to take with us. And it sounds like doing the right thing is also the best thing for the business.
Jennifer McCollum:
Yeah, there’s actually a lot of data out there right now. Linkage doesn’t do the business correlation data but when you look at driving inclusivity in your organization just like looking at advancing when women and bringing women up in your organization, the data, you cannot dispute it anymore. So, for organizations that have more inclusion and more women and other underrepresented populations on any metric you look at, you can look at revenue, you can look at profit, you can look at that promoter score, you can look at business innovation, you can look at decision making, on every single metric, they are improved when you are focused on not only getting the numbers right in terms of women and in terms of other underrepresented population but also getting the culture right about what it actually means and feels like to be an inclusive organization.
Eddie Turner:
Yes. And when you talk about the culture and what that looks like and what that feels like, literally you’re talking about the temperature inside the organization.
Jennifer McCollum:
Yeah, it’s interesting. One of the things that we recommend now, having done this research, is what should organizations start doing that they’re not doing today and what should they stop doing that they are doing. And one of the things we talked about is we really need to divorce diversity from inclusion. And there’s a great social anthropologist Vernā Myers, you may have heard this, which is we need to make sure that diversity is about inviting someone to the dance but inclusion is about asking them to dance. And I love that analogy and that’s true. I think most organizations have been so focused on the diversity in the numbers, that’s just getting the invitation, that they’re not focused enough on actually what does it feel like to engage and retain and support those underrepresented populations in leadership.
Eddie Turner:
Yes, I love it. The first time I heard that was from Robert Livingston at Harvard. He was a professor who was talking about that and I just thought that was brilliant. So, I was giving him credit for that. So, you’re telling me this came from someplace else.
Jennifer McCollum:
We can figure it out later but regardless, it is in such a powerful quote.
Eddie Turner:
No, really, I love it.
Jennifer McCollum:
Yeah. And I think that’s the harder piece. To be honest, if you’re focused on the numbers, we have a lot of clients who are and it’s a great starting point, they make the commitment to bring in more women and more underrepresented populations, the best companies make that commitment and they create a very big initiative around “What are we going to do?” on four things. One, “What are we going to do to disproportionately invest in those populations?” It could be put them on high potential tracks, invest in them with coaching and training and conferences like Linkage runs or it could be just giving them stretch assignments but the other three things are actually the harder things and that is investing in their culture. And that means that all leaders, men and women, that have the ability to impact the culture through their leadership need to be doing that and that relates to executive action and commitment. Are they putting money where their mouth is? Are they actually operating in line with what an inclusive leader looks like? And we can help them as well. And then, finally, our talent systems. Are they fare from hiring to succession planning and high potential identification? Are they truly objective and fair to allow for all populations to rise?
Eddie Turner:

Thank You, Jennifer.And it looks like Faustina is listening to you. She says that is great. She is very optimistic. Thank you for weighing in, Faustina. And if you’re just joining us, listening to Jennifer McCollum, please let us know where you are from, say hello and let us know if you have a question.

We do have one question that comes from Rosemary Winbush. She says “Thanks for your insight on leaders. Is there a formal leadership track at Linkage to reproduce leaders?”

Jennifer McCollum:
I love that, Rosemary. Reproduce leaders reminds me a little production line. I wish it were that easy. We do have a formal leadership program, if that’s what you’re talking about, where we can support you or your organization in measuring, developing, and coaching to purposeful leadership. And our goal at Linkage … And, again when we say change the face of leadership, we mean it two different ways. The first way to change the face of leadership is really more of a figurative changing the face, which is we want to disrupt conventional wisdom about what effective leadership is, which is why we are so focused on purposeful leadership. The other way to change the face of leadership is more literal, by helping the underrepresented population, the largest of which are women, but you can look at women and race and any other ways to identify underrepresentation, we want them to rise as well. And the reason is because we know that if we can do this, it’s our life’s work, if we can do this, organizations will be better, teams will be better, and individual leaders will do better.
Eddie Turner:

Thank you for answering that question. And thank you, Rosemary, again for your question.Jennifer, I saw something that you wrote about in real leaders and that was just in March and, essentially, it revolves around what we’re dealing with right now. And so, you and 66 other CEOs were asked about your view on how you’re surviving, how you’re thriving. So, in your organization I don’t want to end this conversation without asking for those who are listening, what advice do you have from the top that leaders should be thinking about during this time to survive this crisis.

Jennifer McCollum:

Yeah, it’s so important and I think it’s safe to say that all of us who are leaders, and all of us are leaders and what you’re talking about is leadership from the “top”, at the executive ranks, we’re really concerned about a couple things. One, and I think we did pretty well here, one was looking internally at our employees, are they safe, what will it take to transition them to their homes where work’s going to be a lot harder, and what can we do to support them. and that was kind of the first 30 days of scramble was around safety and efficiency and productivity, knowing that life has changed incredibly for all of us but the second thing we’re concerned about is what I’ll call business pivot or business innovation. So, in a world where so many of our organizations are struggling to survive, on the one hand, when you think about the world of academia where they’re trying to figure out a whole new way to teach our kids, when you think about the world of conferences, Eddie, where you and I spent a lot of our time where all of a sudden there’s no face-to-face conference, you think about development where everything has gone digital, it’s this pivot to innovate quickly for the very survival of our organizations is the second thing.And I think to answer your question specifically, while purposeful leadership is critical always for leaders, in a crisis, you have to dial up a couple of those levers even more. I talked a little bit about Innovate. How do I ensure that the innovation that we’re leading now, at Linkage, we massively accelerated what we were already doing, which is our investment in digital, how do we make sure that innovation is structured appropriately? And that’s the Achieve commitment? We’ve got structures and processes that may have to be redesigned on the fly so that we can very quickly pivot. So, that’s number one.

Number two is how can I inspire and engage the organization in a very different way. Before we were talking about a three-year-out plan. Now, we’re talking about a three-month-out plan. What does it look like in the next three months? Are people clear about where we’re headed and how to get there?

Eddie Turner:
So, a little bit more immediate and rather than being more farsighted, a little bit more short-term impact.
Jennifer McCollum:
Yeah. And Engage is important too. You’ll know this actually from our time together in January but we initiated a weekly business plan review and this is from our good friend Alan Mulally who was the CEO at Ford and Boeing during respective crises, during the recession and 9/11, and his perspective I believe strongly in, which is it’s always important but in a crisis it becomes even more important for everybody to come together to have complete transparency to tell people what you know, what you don’t know, and if you don’t know, when you’re going to figure out an answer and how you can be a part of creating the solution.
Eddie Turner:
And you just did a fascinating interview with him recently as well.
Jennifer McCollum:
I did. I was so lucky. We had about 1,500 people come or indicate interest in this webinar but I think it’s an indication of this period right now which is people are hungry for information and development just like us. We can connect in a video conference, I’d rather see you live, but we’re making it work virtually.
Eddie Turner:

We’re making it work.Well, Jennifer, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed talking with you today. Is there an overarching message you want to leave our listeners with or a famous quote that you want to share with us or a leadership lesson?

Jennifer McCollum:
Well, I’m going to actually quote again our good friend who we met together, Harry Kramer. He’s a former CEO at, I think, Baxter Healthcare but now he works at Kellogg. He was ranked the number one MBA professor in the country. And I’ve actually been channeling him a lot because it makes me calmer in moments of crisis. And he said “Look, a crisis is always going to come and you got to do two things. The first thing you got to do is just do the right thing.” And so, when I wake up every day and when I engage my teams like we’ve got a lot of hard decisions but if we’re guided by “Are we doing the right thing? Are we doing the right thing by the business? Are we doing the right thing by the people inside our business? Are we doing the right thing by our clients?” and the second thing is “Are we doing our best?” And if I can answer those two questions, I wake up with them and I go to bed with them, I think we’re going to be okay.
Eddie Turner:

You’re going to be okay. I like that. Thank you for that advice. And, yes, he is quite an individual, extraordinary. So, thank you for sharing that.We showed you the website for Linkage earlier. Are there any other connecting locations you want to share with our viewers where can they learn more about you and your organization and the fantastic work your team is doing?

Jennifer McCollum:
So, the best way to do it is LinkageInc.com. I also want to encourage people, there’s a whole site under Events. We’re doing free webinars every week or two to support our leaders and our rising leaders. We also talked about the two books. So, Why Is, Become, The Five Commitments of Purposeful Leadership, that’s for all leaders in all levels, and the other is Mastering Your Inner Critic and Seven Other Hurdles to Advancement. That’s primarily targeted at women or anyone that wants to support the rise of women leaders.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. Well, Jennifer, I know you’re an extremely busy CEO. Thank you for all the good you’re doing in the world and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to be a part of this live session of the Keep Leading!® Podcast and Keep Leading Live.
Jennifer McCollum:
Thank You, Eddie. This is going to be the highlight of my week.
Eddie Turner:

Thank you, Jennifer.And thank you for listening. That concludes this episode, everyone. I’m Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®, reminding you that leadership is not about our position or our title. Leadership is action. Leadership is an activity. It’s not the case of once a leader, always a leader. It’s not a garment we put on and take off. We must be a leader at our core and allow it to emanate in all we do. So, whatever you’re doing, always keep leading.

See you next week, everyone.

Thank you for listening to your host Eddie Turner on the Keep Leading!® Podcast. Please remember to subscribe to the Keep Leading!® Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen. For more information about Eddie Turner’s work please visit EddieTurnerLLC.com.

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The Keep Leading!® podcast is for people passionate about leadership. It is dedicated to leadership development and insights. Join your host Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator® as he speaks with accomplished leaders and people of influence across the globe as they share their journey to leadership excellence. Listen as they share leadership strategies, techniques and insights. For more information visit eddieturnerllc.com or follow Eddie Turner on Twitter and Instagram at @eddieturnerjr. Like Eddie Turner LLC on Facebook. Connect with Eddie Turner on LinkedIn.