Leaders share about culture

Frontline Festival: Leaders Share about Culture

In this month’s Frontline Festival, top leadership experts share a variety of perspectives and insights on culture. We’ve also included some quotations from our newest book, Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers and Customer Advocates. You can download a free sample chapter of the book here.

Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors.


 Dr. Artika Tyner of Planting People Growing Justice Leadership shares Five Leadership Strategies for Building a More Inclusive Workplace. Many people that want to build an inclusive workplace have no idea where to begin or what it actually means. They often think that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) simply means hiring people of multiple ethnic or racial groups – or hiring more women. My “Leadership Framework for Action™” provides a comprehensive approach for building the essential leadership competencies rooted in the principles of DEI, which manifests in healthy workplace relations, peak optimized performance, positive morale, and betterment of society. Follow Artika.

Chip Bell Chip R. Bell of the Chip Bell Group asks Are You Leading in the Lost City of Atlantis? Smart organizations that thrive are those bold enough to be innovative; courageous enough to change. “The way we have always done it” only works if you are successful in getting time to stand still! Follow Chip.


Ken Downer of Rapid Start Leadership gives us Lighthouse Leadership: How to Lead Your Team When the Storm Hits. Lighthouse leadership is about knowing what direction to steer your team when the storm hits. Here’s a captivating short story about heroism in a storm and four ways to help you lead in the dark. Follow Ken.


S. Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture shares his video Culture Leadership Charge: Good Comes First. Moving forward, employees expect companies to make morally just decisions. They expect respect. They expect to have a voice. They expect companies and their leaders to be a force for good in the world. That’s a high standard. It requires leaders to shift their organization to be a great place to work – by ensuring that Good Comes First: good people doing good work in a good organization.  Follow Chris.


For many companies, people are often discouraged for saying the wrong thing and rewarded for saying the right thing, so they say nothing. #courageouscultures


Sean GlazeSean Glaze of Great Results Teambuilding gives us The Only Three Options to Cure a Toxic Team Culture.  Yes, there are thousands of consultants and coaches giving hundreds (if not thousands) of different opinions about what contributes to and affects a workplace environment – but even that plethora of wisdom can be simplified by boiling it all down to three possible cures. I learned this when I shared some advice with my daughter. Follow Sean.

David GrossmanDavid Grossman of The Grossman Group gives us Reset Company Culture: 4 Steps to Take as You Define Your Organization’s ‘New Normal.’ With so many changes happening in a short time stemming from the pandemic and social crises, employers face important decisions on how to go forward in managing their teams and adapting for today’s realities. It’s a good time to look at where your business is now and apply what you’ve learned over the past several months. It’s also important to look at ways you are listening to and connecting with employees as well as opportunities for a greater focus on diversity and inclusion. Get started with this how-to guide (featuring 2 free tools/templates and a tip sheet) to help set your organization’s culture change up for success. Follow David.

John HunterJohn Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog provides Creating a Culture of Continual Management Improvement in Your Organization. Favor efforts that will help you build organizational capacity to do more of what you want going forward (creating a culture favoring those practices.) Some of this is about building expertise in the organization. It is also about building your circle of influence. Growing your ability to influence how the organization grows will help you encourage the improvements you believe in. Follow John.

Lisa Kohn from Chatsworth Consulting Group gives us Ways to Build Compassion Into Your Culture and Lead Your Team Now, When It’s Getting Even Tougher where she shares key steps leaders can take now to strengthen their work culture and break down old ways of doing things to allow for needed change. Follow Lisa.



Until you build a courageous culture, “people at work are vulnerable to a kind of implicit logic in which safe is simply better than sorry.” – Amy Edmondson


Paul LaruePaul LaRue of The Upwards Leader gives us Five Actions to Keep Culture Alive and Thriving. Culture is not a “set it and forget it” program. It’s a living organism that needs to be attended to. Paul offers five ways to keep your culture thriving.  Follow Paul.


Eileen McDargh of The Resiliency Group gives us Seven Tips for Managers in a Burnout Prone World to seek to keep a team focused and engaged. Follow Eileen.




Nate Regier of Next Element Consulting gives us How to Correct Three Leadership Habits that Destroy Culture. Conflict is normal and frequent in the workplace. How leaders respond to conflict can make or break culture. Learn about three common drama-based responses that ruin culture, and what leaders can do to replace that drama with compassionate accountability. Follow Nate.

 Shelley RowShelley Row of Shelley Row Associates asks, What’s Your Leadership Philosophy?  The culture of an organization will tend to follow the philosophy of its leader(s.) Determine now what kind of leader you will be, and you’ll find you will also influence the culture of your company. Follow Shelley



Courage doesn’t always feel like courage … it often shows up in moments when you choose to live according to your values. #courageouscultures


Maria Tanski-Phillips of Patriot Software provides Six Ideas for Improving Company Culture and Bettering Your Workplace.  Having a strong workplace culture can do a whole lot of good for your small business. If your culture could use a boost, take advantage of these six tips. Follow Maria.


Jon Verbeck of Verbeck Associates gives us Discretion or Open-Book: Is there a Better Approach to Culture? Some companies push for a culture of transparency, while others do well with some discretion by leadership.  Is one better than the other?  Follow Jon.


Julie Winkle Giulioni

Julie Winkle Giulioni of JulieWinkleGiulioni.com shares Want to Institutionalize Career Development? Look for (or Cultivate) these Cultural Markers. Culture affects nearly every aspect of work-life, including career development. This article explores the cultural characteristics that support the growth employees want and need. Follow Julie.



7 Steps to a Courageous Culture


Are you a leadership writer? We’d love to have you join us with your articles, videos, podcast episodes, or simply your best thinking on the topic (even if you don’t have additional content to link.) Our topic for November is executive development. Click here to submit your thoughts and content!


S. Chris Edmonds

An Exclusive Culture Leadership Charge for Symposium Readers (S. Chris Edmonds)

Winning Well Connection

Despite living only a few miles apart for several years, I (David) only knew Chris online. We first met in person when he was sharing tips from his fantastic book The Culture Engine with a group of tech leaders committed to building healthy business cultures. The three of us finally met in person at a gathering of the Colorado Chapter of the National Speakers Association. Chris offers one of the clearest, practical guides to creating a positive corporate culture that you will ever find. If you’ve never built an organizational constitution that transforms values to daily behaviors, give Chris’ book a close look.

Here is Chris Edmonds’ Culture Leadership Charge video episode made exclusively for the 2017 Winning Well Symposium. In this concise video, Chris shares how his culture clients leverage two of the Winning Well principles, results, and relationships, to craft purposeful, positive, productive work cultures.

Winning Well Reflection

“Trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction…” – that sounds like Winning Well to us (not to mention the foundation for a phenomenal culture that achieves lasting transformational results). Well said, Chris!

Click on the image for more information about Chris’ book.




trust the trenches

How Do I Get My Team to Trust Me? (Story and Video)

Our 8th Winning Well Principle: Trust the Trenches has so many nuances, all of which I learned the hard way. For me, it wasn’t the delegating, or asking for input, that was the hardest… it was trusting my team enough to be vulnerable. To trust them enough to admit that I’m far from perfect, and having the confidence to know that was okay. I still had vision. And a plan. And we could still win well.

“Because when people see leaders who are real and have real life challenges,
they look at those leaders and say,
“Wow, she’s not perfect.
And I’m not perfect.
And we can still win well together.”

The Hardest Way to Trust the Trenches

I had just been promoted to my first executive job in human resources at Verizon. All the players were new. I had a new boss and an entire new C-level suite to impress. And because sometimes life throws you curve balls, I was also going through a divorce and was trying to navigate an unexpected life as a single mom.

I hadn’t told a soul. My best friends at work didn’t know. And my boss certainly had no idea.

So here’s what I imagined would be said about me. 

Well, we know we can’t talk about this, but…

“This is probably not the right time for her. Yes she’s high-potential, but with all this personal stuff on her plate…”

“I’m not sure she’ll be able to manage the travel of this high-profile role as a single mom.”

“She’s young. Let’s skip this round with her, and wait to see how she handles her new life circumstances.”

So I did what I thought was best and ignored the unspeakable.

Which might not have been a terrible approach. Except…

My First Project in the New Role

My first assignment in my new role was to build a diversity strategy. I was to gather a “max mix” of managers (think race, age, sexual orientation) from across disciplines and cultures to talk about the very real challenges that were limiting our ability to have an inclusive culture.

And it was working.

We had an amazing team. And great dialogue. Scott, the gay man, came out to us for the first time at work–and that informed our strategy.

Sherika shared a few horrible examples of being overlooked as a woman of color–and that informed our strategy.

John, who weighed 400 lbs., opened our eyes to discrimination we hadn’t even considered–and that informed our strategy.

We were on the cusp of presenting our recommendations to senior leadership, when Sherika burst into my office, and shared her truth from the trenches.

“Karin you are a fraud.”

“All this time we’ve been talking about diversity, and what really matters. Scott came out to you and you applauded. I shared my story, and you raised an enthusiastic, ‘Game on… let’s address that.” And John was close to tears in sharing his deal, and you wrote the travel policy into the plan. And there you sat, TOTALLY QUIET, as we discussed the challenges for single moms.

Our single mother strategy is incomplete. And you know it.

Yeah, we talked about schedules and daycare. But what about the fact that executives like you have to hide who they are for fear of being discounted?”

Sherika was right.

Imagine the Difference

Sherika shared, “Karin, trust goes both ways.”

“Can you imagine what would have happened if you had told us the truth?”

“Hey guys, this discussion of single moms is only half the battle. Yeah, we need daycare, and flexible schedules. But we also need to make it safe for people to show up how they really are at work. Without judgement.  I’m a single mom too. I don’t meet the profile we’ve been discussing. AND I’m scared as hell that the minute people find out that I don’t have a husband, all bets are off.”

THAT would inform our diversity strategy.

Trusting the trenches starts with–trusting the trenches to be who you are.

Sherika’s message changed my approach to leadership forever.

To win the trust of your team, you have to trust them to trust you.

Trust the trenches to accept (and even embrace) that you are human being too.

And lead from there.


27 Experts On Employee Engagement: April Frontline Festival

April’s frontline festival is on one of my favorite topics: Employee Engagement. We have a wonderful line-up of posts. We begin with this month’s graphic from Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx LLC (see below).

27 Experts On Employee Engagement: April Frontline Festival

Practical Engagement Practices

Jesse Lyn Stoner, of the Seapoint Center, offers her guest post on switch and shift, First Engage Yourself. It’s difficult to engage your employees if you yourself are not engaged. Here are 7 questions to assess your own engagement and suggestions for what you can do. Follow Jesse @JesseLynStoner.

Wally Bock, of Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership, shares 10 Engagement Building Behaviors For The Boss. Study after study has shown us that if you’re the boss, you are the person with the biggest impact on the productivity, morale and engagement of your team. Here are ten things you can do to improve all three. Follow Wally @WallyBock.

Tune it to Tanveer Naseer Leadership to find out what 3 critical steps leaders should be employing to boost employee engagement levels in their organization. Read Tanveer Naseer‘s post Learning To Connect To Boost Employee Engagement. Follow Tanveer @TanveerNaseer.

Alli Polin, Break the Frame, brings us practical advice in her post  Are You A Negativity Carrier Or The Antidote?. There will always be negative people at work who like to create a crisis. Discover how you can transform their negativity and invite engagement. Follow Alli @AlliPolin.

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”
~ Simon Sinek

Mary Jo Asmus, ofAspire-CS.com, offers Where Do you Spend Your Time?. A recipe for failure in a new position: keeping your head down, not reaching out to others. This post offers tips to lead and actually lead your team to get them engaged. Follow Mary Jo @mjasmus.

Jim Ryan, Soft Skills For Hard Jobs, shares Morning Check-In Meetings – Maybe The Most Powerful Management Tool There Is. Making a simple addition of a quick 10-minute meeting before the day starts can have quite an impact on the engagement level of your team. I’m with Jim, I had certain roles where a morning check made all the difference. Follow Jim @jryan4.

In her post, Please, Thank You, and I’m Sorry – Words For Kindergarten & Leadership, Robyn McLeod from The Thoughtful Leaders Blog shares how these three phrases that we learned in kindergarten can pave the way for better relationships and communication at work as well as engender trust, respect, and a higher level of engagement from your staff. Follow Robyn @ThoughtfulLdrs.

“Dispirited, unmotivated, unappreciated workers cannot compete in a highly competitive world.”
~ Francis Hesselbein

Matt McWilliams, author of Life. Leadership. Love. Learned the Hard Way, offers Two Scientifically Proven Techniques To Be A Better Leader, Spouse & More. In this post, he shares two incredible techniques that will increase employee engagement and so much more. Follow Matt @MattMcWilliams2.

Chantal Bechervaise, Take it Personel-ly shares specific ways to offer support in her post, Help Employees To Believe In Themselves. Employees need to know that you have faith in their ability to do their jobs well. It also requires commitment to help support employees when times are tough. Follow Chantal @CBechervaise.

Employee Engagement Starts With Leadership

Julie Winkle Giulioni, of juliewinklegiulioni.com shares a sentiment I often feel. It’s not always about doing more to drive engagement, but by what we need to stop. In her post, Stop Driving Employees Nuts, Julie reminds us that employee engagement, motivation, and results are less about introducing new leadership behaviors and more about just stopping the stuff that makes employees crazy. Follow Julie @juliewg.

How important is heart to mental toughness? LaRae Quy, author of Empower The Leader In You, shares 5 Unconventional Ways You Can Lead From Your Heart. Mental toughness is finding a way to continue moving toward our goals, even in tough times. But if our heart is not the driving force behind those goals, failure will be enough to persuade us to give up and try something else. Follow LaRae @LaRaeQuy.

Martin Webster, of Leadership Thoughts, brings us 4 Reasons Your Team Is Frustrated With Your Leadership. Do you know if your team is frustrated with your leadership? Learn about some common team gripes and what you need to do about them. Follow Martin @tristanwember.

Building Engaging Cultures

Chip Bell, of ChipBell.com, brings us The Leadership Echo. Leadership is an echo sounded through the actions of those under the leader’s influence. Customers get a peep-hole into the organization’s culture their experience created and delivered by the front line. Follow Chip @ChipRBell.

“On what high-performing companies should be striving to create: A great place for great people to do great work.”
~ Marilyn Carlson, former CEO of Carlson Companies

Steve Broe, of My Career Impact, shares Why Do We Need To Assess People to Build A Great Organization. Take the time to evaluate people working for you. Consider their strengths, look at how their strengths can best be deployed. Follow Steve @DrSteveBroe.

What are you engaging employees to do? Kate Nasser, of Smart SenseAbilities offers Engaging Employees to Succeed At What – Integrity. When leaders approach me to help them with employee engagement, I immediately ask them: “engage employees to do what?” If you want company-wide success, engage them to engage each other. This is how to build accountability and integrity throughout the company. Follow Kate @KateNasser.

Jennifer Miller, of The People Equation, shares the7 Moods Of Employee Engagement. Leaders need to learn to coax the troublesome types out of their moods in order to create the most productive and engaged work environment. Follow Jennifer @JenniferVMiller.

Michelle Pallas, at Fireside Chat For Leaders, shares a post on a life strategy I believe in deeply. Care Enough To Take The Time To Know People. Go first, get engaged. Show you care, make connections. It doesn’t cost anything to care. It requires energy and focus. Listening with heart and mind. Engage your workforce by taking the time to know them. Follow Michelle @MichellePallas.

Chery Gegelman, of the Simply Understanding Blog offers, Banging Pans & Throwing Fish In Corporate America. An under-performing, under-supported team that was feeling victimized, changed leadership, changed their focus, learned how to play together, built trust, began meeting and then exceeding their goals and a VIP customer said, “I don’t know what you’ve done with the place, it was a tomb, and now it is alive.” Follow Chery @GianaConsulting.

A powerful personal story that shows the impact we can make, when we invest in one person at a time. David Dye, of Trailblaze, shares The Leadership Question I Couldn’t Answer. How do you motivate a former gang member to succeed in school? David shares his surprising answer to that question and how it will help you lead motivated, energized teams. Follow David @davidmdye.

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”
~ Stephen R. Covey

Brett Faris, of Feed Leaders, shares How To Be Great With People. This is a fun, short post on 3 lessons his golden retriever taught him on how to be great with people. Brett writes with the church leader in mind however believe it is applicable to all business owners. Nothing like taking lessons from a dog. Follow Brett @BrettFaris.

In this case study, Overwhelmed, Linda Fisher Thornton, of Leading In Context explains how a a caring manager is one of the key elements that drives employee engagement. So managers, let’s remove “It’s all important. I’m sure you’ll figure it out” from our vocabularies.

DATIS Delivers, Thought Leadership For Human Services Organizations, shares Employee Engagement: A Time To Give. Does your company have an employee engagement program? Empower your employees by using technology as a tool for success while building a foundation for solid communication in your organization. Follw Datis @DATISe3.

Artika Tyner, Planting People, Growing Justice shares Jumpstart Your Career: 3 Tips To Discover Your Strengths. Employee engagement can be fostered by supporting strengths development and developing the leadership capacities of your team members. This blog provides 3 key tips for strengths development. Follow Artika @DrArtikaTyner.

Michelle Cubas, of Business Influences, brings us Employee Engagement Is About Purpose. Why do people want to work—employee engagement is about purposeful action. Follow Michelle @CoachCubas.

Subha BalagopalFrom the Principal’s Pen offers For An Organization With People. This post is about how I engage with my organization and how I think employees might engage in a healthy organization that invites their voices. Follow Subha @PrincipalsPen2.

Call For Submissions

May’s Festival is all about Careers and Career Development. Please submit your posts using this link. New participants welcome.