A Leader Looks to Retain Top Talent: A Client Success Story

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

by Rachel Harris

In a periodic series, Heartland Group shares illuminating case studies of change management successes. The current installment focuses on a client who had come to a cross-roads and knew the status quo was no longer an option. Our client is a Human Resources Vice President who sought to resolve an employee retention problem, but found roadblocks in navigating a much more complex situation in the company culture. She hired Heartland Group to apply Convening methodology and map a path forward.

Coming to the realization that her smartest, most talented staff were underperforming or leaving, a Vice President of Human Resources knew a change was needed. After assessing employee needs and emphasizing talent retention, she discovered that company culture was impacting performance.  

She contacted Conversational Intelligence-trained coach Patricia Neal and initiated a plan of action. Together they focused on retaining top female talent in the male-dominated engineering company and re-energizing the workforce through a special interest group (SIG). What began as a staffing retention issue had morphed into a culture change initiative.  This is where the project got exciting!

This SIG met to re-focus the mission and vision, design a kick-off meeting and receive Art of Convening training.  The group relaunched successfully in March with over 70 people in attendance - double the expected turnout!  Their success evolved from executive coaching and training on more effective meetings.  Now that the SIG is up and running, they have requested a quarterly tune-up on designing effective meetings for inclusion. The quarterly trainings and monthly coaching have enabled middle managers to create a culture of inclusion, develop staff buy-in and transform their leadership. Excellent outcomes!

We love to work with leaders who are ready to move beyond the status quo.Center for Purposeful Leadership: Connect. Engage. Collaborate. Give us a jingle. #612-920-3039.

11/16-Interview: Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

Thanks to all who joined us on the call last night!

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. -Vaclav Havel

Last night Peggy Holman, master change method chronicler and author of the new book, Engaging Emergence, was our VisionHolder conversationalist with Craig and the community. Here are some snippets from Peggy.

I choose to be curious about chaos and breakdown. It offers me the best chance of more than just surviving. As things fall apart, it creates the space for something good to happen. Chaos creates a diversity of opportunity for people.

Two hallmarks:

  • The notion that people care: people do care and want to make a difference
  • Welcoming disturbance: there is a shift, an acceptance, the knowing of your own fear.

We’re hospicing the old; midwifing the new. -Margaret Wheatley

Conversations that matter: Conversation that help us see ourselves in context. experience the "we", experience ourselves in the whole.
How do we take this to scale?

2 pieces of the puzzle:
macroscope: creating the tools and mechanisms (tech and internet will create the vehicles)
microscope: many of us doing this work, stretching ourselves, as often as possible. share our stories to inspire others.

-how do we bring people together in holistic way to create scale?
-visual metaphors: even though you might think a large corporate system is immovable, as soon as people can step away from the immediate focus to the larger context, something does shift.

When the structures of how things are becomes so bad for a sufficient portion of the population, it's time to look at the principles and ideas for what supports people. What evolves is more complex systems that can handle more diversity.

One of my major ah-hahs is: there is a deep human need to belong, and an unspoken cultural assumption is that to belong you must conform. Instead of conforming, consider:

  • take responsibility for what you love as an act of service.
  • pay attention to what you deeply love, and bring it forward. it may be disruptive, but in the higher order of complexity, our uniqueness, the larger whole emerges.


MP3 File

10/20 Interview: Love Leadership: a movement is launched

Photo credit: Craig neal

Photo credit: Craig neal

Talk about vision in action! Last night's VisionHolder Interview with John Hope Bryant was a message of hope and fierce claiming of love as a transformational power and a movement to reclaim capitalism as a foundation that works for all. Leading from love...

As a special advisor on finance and economics to the last 3 Presidents (Clinton, Bush, Obama), we found John's message at once transformative and yet very practical. Imagine the courageous conversations he invoked as he speaks about the Five laws of love-based leadership and as a financial advisor, saying, "Love makes money and Vulnerability is power." It's the beginning of transformational change in the halls of institutional power.

order the book here

Five Laws of Love-based Leadership:

  1. Loss Creates Leaders (there can be no strength without legitimate suffering)
  2. Fear Fails (only respect and love leads to success)
  3. Love Makes Money (love is at the core of true wealth)
  4. Vulnerability is Power (when you open up to people they open up to you)
  5. Giving is Getting (the more you offer to others, the more they will give back to you).

There is a fierceness to his message of love as action and claiming of true power. Love is not this new-agey thing, but work, action. Fear is a punk. Fear is lazy. John spoke to rainbows after storms, not letting a good crisis go to waste. The time is now to speak this truth to create real power.

Many thanks to John for his words, his courage, and his commitment to activism through love.

10/19: "It's what you don't know that you don't know that's killing you, but you think you know..."

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

10/19- HOPE Oakland Financial Literacy Empowerment Forum (see below)

Heartland's next VisionHolder interview is with John Hope Bryant, author, LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World. Breaking news: Operation HOPE Founder and Business Bestselling Author John Hope Bryant Attends World Economic Forum in Tianjin as a Young Global Leader.

Patricia first heard John speak on MN Public Radio and was just enthralled. The genesis story: In 1992, at the age of 26, John was running a successful financial services business in LA when the riots broke out. After the chaos subsided, John saw that his community needed a hand-up, not a hand-out, so he founded Operation HOPE. In Love Leadership, John chronicles his story of transformation from a teenager growing up in South LA to the leader of one of the most impressive antipoverty organizations in the country.

What is the secrete to his leadership success? LOVE 

Read on for more information about John and HOPE.

  HOPE Oakland Financial Literacy Empowerment Forum: the Rebirth of America, the Future of the Financial Services Industry and the Effect on Underserved Communities, Post Economic Crisis

  HOPE Global Initiatives
 John's Mission Statement

"HOPE Global Initiatives was developed out of the organization’s leadership role in hosting Ambassadors and Heads of State visiting Southern California, as well as the founder’s former role with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Geneva, Switzerland, as their first ever goodwill ambassador to the United States."

The role of HOPE Global Initiatives is to promote and advocate the benefits of economic empowerment as a tool for vastly improving the quality of life in developing countries, with a particular focus on developing countries on the African continent. The role has expanded to serve underserved communities throughout the world.

Hollywood comes to Soweto - Rwanda Rising - Operation HOPE - South Africa  Global Dignity

John''s Mission Statement:

"There is a difference between broke and being poor. Being broke is a temporary economic condition, but being poor is a disabling frame of mind and a depressed condition of your spirit, and you must vow to never, ever be poor again."
My vision for the poor, the under-served, and the wealthless of the world is to help them see themselves -- differently. We can do this by helping to expose, to educate, to empower, and ultimately to inspire them. To help them become "dreamers, with shovels in their own hands," quoting my friend Dr. Dorothy Height.
To see themselves for what and who they truly already are; rich in spirit. Assets, and not liabilities on the world's global balance sheet.
Because, I have seen, time and again, that given an informed choice, the poor do not want a hand out, but simply a hand up. They want the dignity that comes from doing for self.
That education is the ultimate poverty eradication tool, and when you know better, you tend to do better.
Moving from civil rights to silver rights. From integrating the lunch counter, to integrating the dollar too.
That low-wealth communities, the world over, represent future emerging markets waiting to be born. That one person can make a diference, and we are that one person. That we are all accountable and responsible for the world we live in, because it is literally the world we create. A little hope can make the difference.

The Circle Way: A Leader in Every Chair

photo credit: Craig neal

photo credit: Craig neal

Craig's May 18 conversation with Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea, Co-founders, PeerSpirit Inc. was as engaging as any conversation we've had. Christina and Ann bring wisdom, authenticity, humor, love to all that they do.

In their work Christina and Ann noticed that more and more organizations are looking for alternatives to rigid, top-down hierarchy as people realize that good ideas can come from anywhere and that fostering collaboration and group cohesion is vital to any healthy enterprise. But what approach can best create an environment that ensures clear speaking, compassionate listening, and the making of well-grounded decisions? Circle.  Th  The Circle Way lays out the basics of circle conversation based on the original work of the coauthors, who have studied and standardized the essential elements of circle practice and implemented them in a variety of organizations for over fifteen years.

Circle is the molecular unit of democratic practice. Every voice counts. When you are in the circle it doesn’t matter who you are outside the circle.

Peer spirit circles: when we’re practice our engagement as peers, spirit floods through us. The wisdom is in the room, the wisdom is in the circle. We lean in and stay in even when the going gets tough. Then the wisdom comes flying through sometimes the most unusual person.


The circle depends on us to hold together the agreements of civility. If someone is incapable of maintaining an attitude of civility, then the circle won’t hold. Anger or incivility can be directed into the center, into the candle, for instance, but not directed at an individual. The circle and hierarchy are not mutually exclusive. Circle can be particularly challenging if the person(s) holding hierarchy in an organization don’t wish to have a leader in every chair.

The structural elements of the circle are akin to the human structure. Each person that carries circle language or form back to their organizations or families is the right person to create the form and language that fits their group.

The circle by its very nature creates something that occurs —a recognition without having to say anything at all. What do you say about the circle that has inherent properties that makes it work so well? 

The circle is an archetype, part of our collective unconscious and our social DNA. People often come into a room and say, “what is happening here?” and nothing has been said yet. It’s just that the chairs aren’t bolted down in rows. And a different kind of presence is called for. No multi-tasking, no control from the front of the room.

The circle invites the whole of us to be present. We’re all visible. People are searching for a place where their whole self is welcome, not just our technical or sales savvy.

Advice from Christina and Ann: just try it. Just try a check-in and check-out. Try it in gentle places. Follow your heart with it. Know you always have support. Just keep breathing.

Mojo: Building Block 4

photo credit: Craig neal

photo credit: Craig neal

Four vital ingredients need to be combined in order for you to havegreat Mojo.

The fourth element is acceptance. What can you change, and what is beyond your control? On the surface, acceptance—that is, being realistic about what we can and cannot change in our lives and accommodating ourselves to those facts—should be the easiest thing to do. it's certainly easier than crating an identity from scratch or rebuilding a reputation... And yet acceptance is often one of our greatest challenges... When Mojo fades, the initial cause is often failure to accept what is—and get on with life.

from MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It, by Marshall Goldsmith, our 3/23 VisionHolder Interview

Mojo: Building Block 3

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

Four vital ingredients need to be combined in order for you to havegreat Mojo.

The third element is reputation. Who do other people think you are? What do other people think you've done lately? It's your coworkers, customers, friends (and sometimes strangers who've never met you) grabbing the right to grade your performance—and report their opinions to the rest of the world. There is a lot you can do to maintain or improve your reputation, which can in turn have an enormous impact on your Mojo.

from MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It, by Marshall Goldsmith, our 3/23 VisionHolder Interview

Mojo: Building Block 2

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

Four vital ingredients need to be combined in order for you to havegreat Mojo.

The second element is achievement. What have you done lately? These are the accomplishments that have meaning and impact. We look at accomplishments from two perspectives: 1-What we bring to the task; 2-What the task give to us. Until we can honestly put a value on what we've accomplished lately, we may not be able to regain our Mojo.

from MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It, by Marshall Goldsmith, our 3/23 VisionHolder Interview

Mojo: Building Block 1

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

Four vital ingredients need to be combined in order for you to have great Mojo.

The first is your identity. Who do you think you are? Not how you think others see you, or what others say about you. Who do you think you are? Without a firm handle on our identity, we may never be able to understand why we gain—or lose—our Mojo.

from MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It, by Marshall Goldsmith, our 3/23 VisionHolder Interview

MOJO with Marshall Goldsmith: Tour de Force

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

Marshall Goldsmith is a force to be reckoned with...like entering the ring with a verbally facile Aikido master. Remember the Maxell tape commercials with the guy in the chair having his hair blown back? That's what is was like for Craig to enter the interview dance with Marshall.

For an hour he delighted and amazed us with his personal bio, ruminations on his new book, MOJO, How to Get it, How to Keep It, How to Get it Back If you Lose It in an engaging no-holds-barred conversation.

Don't take our word for it, listen to the audio of the entire session here: http://www.hipcast.com/playweb?audioid=Pba1f6533ee1642f56baa7606d84b5859YFh9R1REZmF9&buffer=5&shape=6&fc=FFFFFF&pc=666666&kc=009900&bc=CCCCCC&brand=1&player=ap26

In the interview, Craig asked Marshall, "What is your work and the new book for the sake of?" "What surprised you the most about the book when you finished writing?" "Tell us about what is underneath the book, the story of how you came to write it."

Craig & Patricia Neal

 Be sure to register forthe next VisionHolder interview on 4/20.
Join the Heartland Network social networking site (free)

Kavita Ramdas: Let's play a different game

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

"As my husband often says, people don't realize that when the women's revolution is complete, both men and women will have more opportunities, free from stereotypical expectations about what they can and cannot do. Of course, that is very scary, because it's a dramatic departure from what we have right now, but it's also very exciting."

The moststriking thing about the international women's movement is that it isn't an anti-male movement. We've gone beyond asking to be allowed to play the game, because we've realized that the game we're all playing is a terribly unfair one where people get hurt. So women activists are saying, 'Let's play a different game.' We're asking, 'What is the world that we want to see for ourselves, women and men, and our children?'

My VisionHolder Interview (2/2) with Kavita Ramdas, President and Chief Executive Officer, Global Fund for Women, was a conversation with a person dedicated to leaving a profound legacy for the world. The Global Fund for Women is a nonprofit grantmaking foundation that advances women's human rights worldwide.

But they are not just about women!

Kavita is clear that a new "game" should be created. One in which men and women are treated with equal dignity, and acknowledged for their wisdom and contribution. The failure to include 50% of the population is a failure of vision, but also an economic and democratic failure.

I asked Kavita WHY she has devoted her life to this work, FOR THE SAKE OF WHAT?, and,
Looking out 10 years, how will you know GFW has been successful?
she responded:

For the sake of what?
Hope: Connections being made all over the world: Hope for global community
Being a great mentor. The best mentors are those who push you off the edge. One of her mentors encouraged her to take the GFW job, saying, "Unless you take a risk you will not find what  you are really hear to do."
My husband also challenged me in the best ways—he really believed in me.
Courage was required.

Looking out 10 years, how will you know GFW has been successful?
UN: commitment to gender equality among all members and all member states.
Follow-up to Beijing conference 15 years ago. Countries are afraid to commit to hosting because of the controversial platform involving equality of women.
US as global leader in gender parity, women's human rights
Military budgets slashed in ½. So much of the earth’s resources flow to the miliatry vs. true sustainablilty, building up human capital resources.
Change the paradigm of giving: Less than 7% of all giving in US focuses on supporting girls and women’s rights.

Many thanks to Kavita for her inspiration, courage and love.

The Compromise Trap: 1/19 VisionHolder Interview

Photo credit: craig neal

Photo credit: craig neal

The Compromise Trap: How to Thrive at Work Without Selling Your Soul with Elizabeth Doty, of WorkLore.

This evening's call with Elizabeth Doty was another in a wonderful series with evolutionary leaders of speaking to living a life of wholeness and integrity. Like all of our VisionHolders, Elizabeth holds a vision for a world that works not just for the individual, but for everyone. The topic of unhealthy compromise at work is VERY important to thetransformation of our organizations and the people who care about them.

The Compromise Trap helps you tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy compromise, and how to stay true to yourself and be a positive force in your organization. Some key components of the book:

Some key components of the book: the 10 Misconceptions about Compromise at work, Six Personal Foundations that bolster your courage, the 5 Positive Plays that one can take for a fulfilling life, concluding with It’s Bigger Than a Game.

Those on the call heard a compassionate real voice of experience from this Harvard MBA and former corporate manager on how to navigate the world of a commitment to reality and a commitment to integrity. She left us with an energetic question and a big vision:

How do people reconcile the contrast between what they care about as people, with the societal challenges that the organizations they work for may sometimes contribute to creating, intentionally or not?

What if each person stood up to take one small step for change and leadership? What might happen?

[Based on over fifty candid interviews with businesspeople at all levels, including vivid firsthand accounts of compromise and courage, Elizabeth details an inspiring strategy for staying true to yourself at work while contributing to your organization’s effectiveness and integrity.]