Confidently Vulnerable Good Morning Pioneers,

managementwisdom_2183_2189791At the North Carolina Innovation Engineering Leadership Institute in the fall of 2012, I had the fine and rare pleasure to meet a remarkable woman.  Clare Crawford-Mason was the Senior Producer for, among many other things, the famed “If Japan Can, Why Can’t We?” documentary. She produced the iconic NBC News White Paper that aired decades ago and, “began the Quality Revolution in America and introduced W. Edwards Deming to Western managers.”  The stories and insights she has on Deming, leadership, history, quality, publishing and life are beyond comprehension. Over a lively dinner with she and her husband, Bob Mason, the interviewers (three of us from Eureka! Ranch) quickly became the interviewees as we discussed the current challenges of innovation and the similarities to the quality movement. Clare’s response to a very specific question was so clear and simple, I instantly knew that this entire blog post would have to be dedicated to it. Early in the evening we were discussing the very important job of leadership in innovation and the seemingly opposing roles you often play - leading the organization with confidence, yet at the same time being openly vulnerable that you don’t know everything, that you need help, and that you’re willing to fail.  From there, the conversation meandered through Eastern and Western thought, thought leaders through time, even the advent of the written word and the effects on society.  But throughout the hours of talking, my mind kept wandering back to this unsettled argument of these idealistically strong, yet vulnerable leaders. Finally, as we were just about to adjourn, I had to come back around to the start. I asked Clare, “How does a leader gracefully lead with confidence and vulnerability?” Her answer:  “Attention.  Compassion. And Gratitude.” With prompting she further elaborated. “Attention means being in the present moment.  Compassion means a real and genuine love for the other person - your employee, your staff, your partner, your peer. And Gratitude means being grateful for what you have today.” Innovation Leaders, my call to you today is a very simple one.  Today be mindful of leading with attention, compassion and gratitude.  And know how very very grateful we are to you for leading this new world revolution with us.