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Humility

Last night I witnessed that rare quality in a leader, humility.  I attended the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organizations’ Foundation Gala in Washington DC.  There were lights and flowers and diamonds and glamor.  The nations’ hospice leaders and donors were decked out in their finery to give out awards and celebrate.

This year the Healthcare Architect Award was given to Mary Labyak, President and CEO of Suncoast Hospice.  Mary has had a brilliant career in hospice that started in 1980 in Clearwater, Florida.  She was hired by a handful of volunteer board members to provide hospice care to the dying citizens of their area.  Mary and her dedicated volunteers and staff embarked on a journey that has led to a profound change in the way people are cared for at the end of life.

Many people across the US have contributed their life’s work to this movement, but few are more recognized or revered than Mary Labyak.  Growing up in...

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Lessons From the Field

In my work as a consultant I have the good fortune to meet and interview all types of people.  I interview everyone from Board members, community leaders, internal staff, housekeepers to executives.  It is always my delight when I meet someone who is “real”; someone who is comfortable in their own skin, with a sensibility about life and not trying to impress anyone.  I know when I have found one of the truth tellers because I get “truth- bumps” (AKA good bumps) when I talk with them.
These people are everywhere, sometimes in the most unexpected places.  I was recently in a small rural town in the south conducting a program assessment.  I met a Board of Directors member who had been the Chief Operating Officer of the largest privately owned agricultural chemical company in the world.  Not in the largest in the USA, but in the world!
How did that happen?  This man came from humble beginnings of picking cotton, stripping...
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Leadership Listening

When I think of leadership listening I think of my mom, who has been a hairdresser most of her adult life.  Being a hairdresser means standing on your feet all day listening to other people’s problems and trying to make them look pretty.  For the price of a shampoo and set my mom has been listening, smiling, and acknowledging people,  making them look good and feel good about themselves for nearly 50 years.  Some people pay a therapist and don’t get as much as she offered as their “hair-apist”.

I never thought much about the role of the hairdresser other than when you find a good one you stick with them, sometimes even longer than a marriage.  It is often the hairdresser who gets the first call to be a part of the preparation for any big event in a woman’s life: proms, graduations, weddings, funerals, holidays and job interviews.

What skills does it take to be a successful hairdresser?  For 45 years my mother shampooed,...

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