Interview with President of CPL, Patricia Neal, on Leadership

photo credit: AtomikPhotography

photo credit: AtomikPhotography

"I am fascinated by inflection points that are the beginning of a new trend. Looking into the future, what are some trends on the horizon?"

Interviewing Patricia Neal on Leadership

Edited by Rachel Harris and Sarah Flores

CPL had an opportunity to sit down with Patricia Neal, President of the woman-owned Center for Purposeful Leadership (CPL), formerly Heartland Group. Patricia has been coaching and training executives and thought leaders into transformational outcomes for 12 years. She guides leaders in uncovering their authentic leadership and becoming powerfully vulnerable in presenting their transformational journey in a public forum. Leaders who work with Patricia boost their capacity to relate to others, enhance effectiveness for team management and wow audiences with newfound presentation skills. Currently, Patricia is updating her skills via a Conversational Intelligence® for Coaches and Coaching for ROI trainings. Insight into her extensive network and thought leadership can be found at

Check out our interview with President of CPL, Patricia Neal, below:

CPL: I understand CPL celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a conference last year. Reflecting on your own business success, who has inspired your leadership?

PN: My husband and partner, of course! Rachel Harris, really runs the place, as she steps forward in her leadership. Our CPL team--fantastic leaders to work with and be inspired by. Then there is Kiki the wonder cat…

I am inspired by leaders who pay attention to whole systems and whole people. Meaning, they hire for the person as a contributor to the whole picture, not just a set of skills. They are contributors to those around them and their communities outside of work. You can tell they are values-driven, inspired-by-life people.

I won't try to list names specifically, because the list numbers in the thousands. I am constantly inspired by the people whose lives intersect with mine.

CPL: As President of a woman-owned business, your to-do list and inboxes are often overflowing. When you have moments to read, what captures your attention these days?

PN: I have a large network of friends and colleagues whom I track because I consider them to be leading-edge thinkers. I watch what they watch. Forbes and HBR regularly catch my eye, but leadership shows up in many non-business settings, so I subscribe to a breadth of online news sources to broaden my perspective. I am fascinated by inflection points that are the beginning of a new trend.

CPL: After 12 years of coaching leaders into their authentic voice, you have worked with some of the brightest minds in the Twin Cities and Bay Area. You have developed a thought leadership following. Looking into the future, what are some trends on the horizon?

PN: Whole-brain, whole-heart leadership: leading to new ways to engage and collaborate for satisfaction and success. Purposeful leadership: Recent research shows that a sense of purpose, not a specific set of characteristics, is the key to successful leadership. Creating thriving cultures: Culture is how people express and define themselves within an organization. Culture defines what is measured. What is measured, matters, but the measurements will change by demand from employees. More than ever, culture will trump strategy. Sustainability: not just of systems and externalities, but of humans inside the systems.

CPL: You are an incredible networker with over 4,000+ connections on LinkedIn. For people starting out in the workplace, what are some of your expert networking tips?

PN: I am voraciously curious about many things. In person, as an introvert, I’ve learned how to take that curiosity and start a conversation. I ask questions. Then, I try to listen, which is crucial.

Online, I follow and connect with people that interest me in their leadership styles and explorations, and I let them know they interest me.

CPL: You recently began running and competing in triathlons. That takes courage! How has courage played a role in your position as company President?

PN:Choosing a big goal does take courage! Acting on it takes even more courage and self-initiative, but I am always looking for ways to challenge myself and grow. It’s easy to do intellectually, but then, 4 years ago I decided to challenge myself physically and entered the YWCA Women’s Sprint Triathlon with 1200 other aspiring women and girls. It creates an annual stretch goal and benchmark. I created my own training plan of little steps that became longer strides. A 1-minute run turned into 5 minutes, then 20, then 3 miles. I grew my biking and swimming skills the same way. Some days I am tired and facing a wall of resistance, but I know I’m not doing it alone. Then the big day comes, the goal is met, the joy is palpable.

Choosing to co-found CPL (then Heartland) 20 years ago took courage. Choosing to step forward as President six years ago took courage. I then realized that learning to run a business is much the same way as training for the triathlon. The big goals get chunked into incremental, doable pieces. But, just like the triathlon, I’m never doing it alone. Collaborating with a great team is key. The team keeps me inspired and on track. We choose to be mutually accountable, which takes courage and perseverance, but brings great joy when we find and rediscover our groove together.  

To see more of Patricia’s leadership work, follow us on our LinkedIn and subscribe to our blog.

This was passed on to Patricia by a friend on her 60th

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view...

We all plant the seed that one day will grow.

We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces efforts far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything.

Knowing this enables us to do something, and to do it well.

Our work may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way.

Our actions present an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are the workers, not master builders.

We are ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.


—Attributed to Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador (1917-1980), possibly original to Bishop Ken Untener

Patricia speaks at Business Book meeting

Photo credit: Daniel Scotton

Photo credit: Daniel Scotton

Minneapolis Book Events: A Business Book Bonanza of Minnesota Based Authors

In January, we started something called the Business Book Breakfast — and groups of 25-50 exciting, high energy, curious and fun people have gathered at 6:45 AM the 4th Wednesday of every month, to share thoughts and ideas about five very amazing books.

I decided we needed something more relaxing for the last, hazy days of summer, so we’re now meeting from 4:30-6pm (with a cash bar, lovely passed hors d’ouevres, plus FREE parking). Up next:

Wednesday, July 24, 4:30 – 6pm

This month, Minneapolis Book Events will be featuring 5 local authors, each sharing short snippets of their books and allowing time for book signings (and buying). Included authors are:

Al Watts, 

Navigating Integrity

Ralph Jacobson, 

Leading for a Change

Gary Cohen, 

Just Ask Leadership

Manny Steil, 

Listening Leaders

Patricia Neal, 

The Art of Convening

  • Location: The Minneapolis Club, Main Lounge on the 1st Floor
  • 4:30-5:40pm  Facilitated session; 5:40-6pm  More time for informal conversations.
  • Cost: $15-passed appetizers, cash bar, free parking. Prepayment required.
  • Non-Club members welcomed!



 or Call the Club (612) 332-2292

Guests Encouraged.

AoC Book Review

Photo credit: craig neal

Photo credit: craig neal

I just spoke with our friend and colleague Jennifer Sommerness and recalled her review of our book, The Art of Convening. Follow the link below to read the review and learn more about Jen's important work.

"Today I read the book written by Craig and Patricia Neal with Cynthia Wold, called The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations. I have wanted to read this book for many reasons, one of which is...

The invitation is about participation

Photo credit: Craig Neal

Photo credit: Craig Neal

In our new book "Art of Convening", Diarmuid O'Murchu speaks eloquently to the key aspect of the Invitation. He says, "the invitation is about participation, not mere observation. We are not journeying in the universe but with the universe. We are not concerned about living in an evolving world but co-evolving with our world. We are parts of a whole, much greater than the sum of its parts, and yet within each part we are interconnected with the whole."

This line of understanding our role as a part of a Whole living universe correlates very deeply and directly with Indigenous worldviews, and brings us circle back to understanding we are inspiringly a part of a magnificent co-creation, and that each of us has a voice and unique "fingerprint" unlike any other. When we gather in a convening circle, we deepen our ability to be productive, open to possibilities, and to acknowledge each individual's key role when we come from this lens.

Art of Convening is a very special journey full of tools and steps for authentic engagement. We'd be honored if you'd consider writing a review at, and also if you haven't yet a copy, our publisher Berrett-Koehler is offering a 30% off discount for a few more days--both for the hardcopy as well as e-book. Here is the UPDATED (as of March 31, 2011) link to buy a copy for 30% off--offer expires April 7, 2011. Thank you, Bolsa, for flagging this.

All the best wishes to you and your circles,

Craig & Patricia