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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Why It’s Critical to Have an Organizing Principle

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During the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time reading through the transcripts of interviews I’ve been conducting for my new book about simple and practical things leaders can do to be more mindful in their work and life. It’s been a fun process because I’ve had the good fortune of speaking with some compelling leaders who take a mindful approach to their work and life.

Two of those interviews were with Kaye Foster-Cheek and Danae Ringelmann. Kaye was the senior vice president of human resources for Onyx Pharmaceuticals and, prior to that, was the global head of HR for Johnson & Johnson. Danae is the co-founder and chief customer officer of crowdfunding innovator Indiegogo. She’s received a lot of high-profile recognition during the past few years, including being named to Fortune’s 40 Leaders Under 40 list and Fast Company’s list of the 50 most influential women in technology.

Kaye and Danae both bring a lot of strengths to the table. In interviewing each of them, some common characteristics stood out for me. One of those is that they each live their life in accordance with what I would call an organizing principle. By doing so, they make a big difference in the world through their focused sense of purpose.

Here’s more on the organizing principles for Danae and Kaye, the difference they’ve made and what their experience might mean to you and me.

In sharing her story at the Wisdom 2.0 conference last weekend, Danae described the mission of her company as “putting human trust back into finance.” When I interviewed her for my book, she told me her work feels like a calling, and she said “I don’t know what else I would or could be doing if I wasn’t doing it.” Since Danae and her co-founders started Indiegogo, they’ve raised millions of dollars for projects, products and causes by connecting passionate people with others who want to support their efforts.

Kaye Foster-Cheek frames her organizing principle as bringing “voice to the voiceless.” That idea informs how she spends her time and attention. At home, it means being really intentional in listening to her teenage kids. She tries hard to practice a ratio of listening to talking that reflects the fact that we each have two ears and one mouth. At work, she has viewed her leadership roles in HR as being a senior representative for the people of the organization. In the community, she spends time providing meals for the homeless because “you can’t access your voice if you are hungry and if you are worried and thinking about where your meal is going to come from.” She also works with at-risk girls “training them to be agents of social change, finding their own voice so they can help others.”

I find the clarity that Kaye and Danae bring to their lives through their organizing principles both inspiring and empowering. It makes me want to be very clear about my own organizing principle. What about you?

(Image via sergign/Shutterstock.com)

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

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