Brenda's Blog

How well do YOU™ score on this inspiring leadership quiz?

I recently attending a showing of the hit musical Hamilton, in which there is a scene where the lead character (Alexander Hamilton), Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison are all in a private room, having a secret dinner meeting. Out of that meeting came the decision for the capital city of the United States to be situated on the Potomac River – clearly an important and historic moment.

The musical dramatizes the event with a song called “The Room Where It Happens” which highlights how important it was to have been in that room, since those leaders were the only three people who knew exactly what  occurred. This has spurred a new phrase used today: You must “be in the room” in order to be in the know.

In mid-November, I was myself fortunate enough to “be in the room where it happened” – a room of a different kind. I attended the Thinkers50 event in London, a biennial event which honors the best leadership and management thinkers in the world. I was honored and humbled to be recognized as a World Leader in Coaching, along with some of the best and brightest minds in this professional. It was truly an inspiring time.

At the Thinkers50 event speaking with New York Times bestselling author Subir Chowdhury

Even though I was in the room where it happened, I don’t want to keep anything I learned “secret!” I want to share with you my key learnings from the event, which I am doing, below. For fun, I have turned my key takeaways into a “quiz” of sorts – hopefully an engaging way for you to gain some potentially eye-opening information related to today’s leadership and management practices. Have fun!

How well do YOU™ score on this inspiring leadership quiz?

Here are some of my key takeaways from the Thinkers50 2019 event, in quiz form.  (Scroll to the bottom for answers.)

People Leadership

1. Only ____% of people make natural managers, according to Gallup.

A. 10%

B. 20%

C. 30%

D. 40%

2. What percentage of people in the UK say that they would accept less pay to get a new boss?

A. 23%

B. 30%

C. 48%

D. 54%

3. What do people want most on the job?

A. A friendly work environment

B. The ability to work independently

C. A good salary

D. A deep sense of purpose in their work

Organizational Transformation

4. What percentage of transformation intentions fail?

A. 25%

B. 40%

C. 65%

D. 70%

5. What is the single biggest obstacle to transformation?

A. Employees must embrace the change.

B. Leadership of the organization

C. Lack of expertise

D. The cost involved in transformation

6. Unless ______ transforms, the organization won’t transform.

A. The workforce

B. The culture

C. Top leadership

D. The hiring process

Senior Leadership Findings

7. The higher up in the organization you are, the more ____________ you are.

A. Unhappy and deluded

B. Stressed and deluded

C. Optimistically deluded

D. Overworked and deluded

8. Ask yourself as a senior leader: True or False? “My thinking has been challenged in the last five working days.” (If not, there is a likelihood that you are not creating an open enough environment for employees to raise up issues and allow change to take place.)

9. What is the “Superiority Illusion?”

A. When you believe you are superior to other employees

B. When you are promoted to lead an organization

C. When you think you are better at something than others think you are

D. When you believe you can outperform your colleagues

A few additional comments made / learnings gained from Thinkers50 that I feel are worth sharing: 

  • At work, organizations try to “fix” employees who are quiet. Instead, try fixing the system so that quiet employees are heard.
  • The act of speaking up is relational-you will speak up when you feel you have a relationship that supports speaking up.

From the CEO of Haier (Zhang Ruimin):

  • Shareholders cannot create value, only employees can. So put employees first – focus your leadership attention there.
  • Compliments about your product are in fact compliments about the “experience” of your product.
  • What is the best way to avoid losing your job to artificial intelligence? Be a good human being.

Answers to the Inspiring Leadership Quiz

1.A 2.C 3.D 4.D 5.A 6.C 7.C 8.(It depends on you, as a leader.) 9.C

A message of gratitude

Having lived overseas for the past 25 years, I believe that one of the greatest American exports is its Thanksgiving holiday. Gratitude is a universal language, so I enjoy seeing this tradition enjoyed all across the world. It’s a wonderful time to acknowledge friends, family, clients, and work colleagues. This Thanksgiving, I am particularly grateful to my husband, Daniel, for his ongoing support. (He joined me last week at the Thinkers50 gathering in London, where I received an award as a World Leader in Coaching).

I am happy to share that I received a Thinkers50 World Leader in Coaching award from Marshall Goldsmith

Yesterday, I am happy to share that I received a Thinkers50 World Leader in Coaching award from Marshall Goldsmith, for whom this award is named. I am honored to have spent a wonderful, thought-provoking day in London with fellow recipients as well as with the #mg100, sharing ideas around the future of coaching. A fantastic, inspiring opportunity to connect with so many great influencers within the coaching field.

I am consistently amazed at Singapore’s efficiency!

I am consistently amazed at Singapore’s efficiency! I left our house at 10:25 p.m. tonight, arrived at Changi Airport Terminal 3, checked in, went to the lounge, ate a quick bite, accessed the lounge WiFi, and logged into a Zoom video call with my book editor in the U.S. – all by 11 p.m.! Such a business-friendly city Singapore is.

I needed a break!

I needed a break! In the middle of several intense weeks of writing my next book, The Forgotten Choice, my husband and I decided to book a two-day, one-night stay-cation at a nice hotel in Singapore. It was such a fantastic opportunity to clear my mind and rejuvenate, reminding me of the importance of self-care as a leader. What suggestions do you have for achieving balanced work/life integration?

It’s never too late for an inspiring leader to do “this”

It’s never too late for an inspiring leader to do whatCelebrate wins! 

Years of working with executives has taught me that, unfortunately, we don’t celebrate successes as often as we could.  A few years ago, that learning prompted me to write an article called “The Top 10 Reasons Why Leaders Should Celebrate Wins.”  It was printed in dozens of media outlets around the world, and it was even picked up by bestselling author Guy Kawasaki, who featured it in his book called Enchantment. It’s become such a popular article that I decided to turn it into a short-duration video.

Many leaders wait until it’s the end of the calendar or fiscal year to celebrate successes. But not celebrating more frequently is a lost opportunity for both you as an inspiring leader, and for your team / the people you work with.

Click below to watch my video that shares the top reasons to celebrate wins. I hope you enjoy this gentle reminder of the importance of recognizing successes both for yourself and for others. How will YOU™ celebrate wins between now and the end of the year?

May I ask for your vote?

May I ask for your vote? I’m excited to have been nominated again this year as both a Top 30 Global Coaching Guru and a Top 30 Global Branding Guru! A portion of the final ranking is determined by votes, so I would be incredibly grateful for yours. I appreciate your support! Here’s the voting process:

1) Visit

2) In the menu at the top of the home page, click on “VOTE HERE.”

3) In the drop-down menu, you will see the various voting categories. Please select “COACHING.” [You can return and choose BRAND to vote a second time, if you would like – thank you in advance!]

4) Login via Facebook, Google, YouTube, or LinkedIn [this step is a requirement to make sure the voting stays honest].

5) Scroll down, find my photo and name, then click on the button next to my photo.

6) Scroll down further (near the bottom of the page), and select either Inspirational, Exceptional, Great, Very Good, or Good.

7) Once you have made your selection, click the “VOTE” button to confirm.

As I mentioned, the steps are the same to vote in the Brand category, except for step #3, select “BRAND” from the drop-down menu. Once again, I sincerely appreciate your support. Thank you again, and all the best!

Dinner with the Dean of Harvard Business School

Earlier this week, at a small private dinner for alums, I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with Harvard Business School’s Dean Nitin Nohria. Given our shared passion for developing high-level leaders, the Dean and I had an engaging chat about how to inspire leadership in today’s fast-paced, international world. It was also a terrific opportunity to connect with fellow alumni, reminding me of the importance of consistently networking.

What are some opportunities you could pursue in the coming weeks to broaden your professional contacts?

Be the leader you wish you had

I’ve heard clients say, “I’ve had a series of bad bosses, Brenda—no good role model—so you can’t really fault me for my poor people leadership.”

I see it differently and respond with, “Be the leader you wish you had.” After all, we all know what the characteristics are of a good inspiring people leader. The key is: How often do you embody those characteristics?

The surprising truth about how to create an inspiring leadership legacy

What causes certain leaders to achieve legacy status but not others, no matter how much a leader has accomplished nor how visible he or she has been in a company or in an industry? Just what is it that makes certain leaders so memorable and inspiring – leaving a clear legacy behind – while others are quickly forgotten?

A few months after Xavier was promoted into his new regional CEO role, he came to my office for a coaching session. After he shared a general update on how he was getting along in the job, I asked him to fast-forward in his mind to what success would look like after five years in the post.

He paused, then responded, “I will have left a legacy.”

“That sounds exciting,” I responded. “Tell me more.”

“By then, we will have doubled sales, expanded into five new geographic regions, increased market share by 20%, and added 250 new employees.”

I paused for a moment, then shared: “Xavier, one thing I’ve learned from coaching so many great leaders over the years… Legacy isn’t built by hitting the numbers.”

What does it take to create a legacy?

It’s not unusual for leaders to want to leave an inspiring legacy when they step down from a post. Leaders want to make an impact – to leave their time in office with something noticeable and memorable to show for it.

Yet, just like Xavier, too often leaders fall into a trap of “needing to hit the numbers” and using that, and only that, as the key benchmark for success. As a result, they place all of their short-term attention on the profit and loss statement, moving from quarter to quarter to quarter, achieving incremental growth, satisfying their bosses, their Board, shareholders, and Wall Street. But in the meantime, they haven’t stepped back enough to realize that those achievements are temporary and, by primarily focusing on numbers, leaders won’t have made an impact on the hearts and minds of their team members.

Don’t get me wrong: Of course, you must “hit the numbers!” It’s very clear that, if you’re not meeting stakeholder expectations from a top-line and bottom-line business standpoint, it’s likely your time in position won’t be long.

But true legacy as a leader doesn’t come from statistics and achieving tangible measurable benchmarks. Achieving numbers is the price of entry for leaders, the basic requirement of your job.

What is often overlooked – and that which will truly create a legacy for a leader – is the “how” of leadership.

Ok… so, how do YOU™ start building a legacy?

What about YOU™? If someone in your organization were to stop and ask your team members, your function heads, your direct reports, and peers to state what they felt your legacy was in your post so far, what would they say?

Here are a few questions to consider that will help you get a sense of the kind of legacy you are in the process of building for yourself:

  • Are you focused primarily on building people or on building business?
  • What kind of culture are you instilling (and culture “is” instilled from the top). What are five words to describe the culture you want under your leadership? Is that how people would describe the culture now?
  • What kind of balance are you achieving when it comes to time spent on relationships versus tasks?
  • Are you using a “pull” style – engaging and asking powerful questions – or are you using a “push” style – simply telling people what to do?
  • Is your overall attitude positive or negative? (Just like in the animal kingdom, leaders of any organization establish the overall tone of the entire company.)
  • Is your energy marked by calm confidence or is it rushed and frenetic?
  • Within your organization, are you genuinely focused on helping people grow, learn, and develop, or are you judging them?

Your answers to the questions above are the keys to building a legacy.

Let’s put it this way: In years to come, I guarantee no one will ever say, “Do you remember Meredith? She was the Vice President who always hit the numbers!” No, you will be remembered by the impact you made on people and on the organization as a whole, the “feel of the place” while it is under your guidance. If you’re not paying attention to that, you will become “just another leader” who did his/her job.

I’m reminded of this quote by Maya Angelou, which I like to share with leaders I coach: 

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, 
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Create a legacy for yourself by not only hitting the numbers but by being a leader people “want” to work for. Of course, you should achieve success in building the business, but it can be done through engaging people and inspiring them. That’s how you create followership, leave a lasting legacy, and in the process, build an inspiring leadership brand for yourself.

If you’d like to learn more about how to be a leader others want to work for, you might benefit from reading my book Would YOU Want to Work for YOU?

(Also available in e-book and audio book formats.)