Women’s Leadership: Propel Your Career or Business Forward with New Habits and Behaviors

Women’s Leadership - Propel Your Career or Business Forward with New Habits and Behaviors

Presented by Leslie Grossman

Women’s careers are often hijacked by corporate politics, motherhood, or our own good girl habits. Whether you are an executive, consultant, or entrepreneur, this leadership workshop will provide the tools to transform you into the extraordinary leader hidden within. If you want to jumpstart to a higher level of success and influence, participate in this transformational workshop which will address:

  • Executive presence
  • Leadership communication
  • Building trusted relationships
  • Speaking out with a leadership voice
  • Mindful confidence

To ensure maximum value, this interactive workshop will accept a limited number of participants. Early registration recommended.

Click here to see Leslie Grossman’s TEDx talk on The Value of Having an Entourage.

A One-Day Workshop
Friday, May 10, 2019, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
$325 (Members & Nonmembers)

Click here to read 7 Habits of Highly Effective Women Leaders by Leslie Grossman.


About Leslie Grossman

Co-founder of the Women’s Leadership Exchange, Leslie Grossman is the author of Link Out: How to Turn Your Network into a Chain of Lasting Connections, an executive leadership coach, and Senior Fellow and Faculty Director, Women’s Leadership, at the Center for Excellence in Public Leadership at The George Washington University.

A former executive and serial entrepreneur, she has presented workshops on Women’s Leadership; Propelling Your Career and Business;  Leadership Presence; and Courageous Leadership  to a wide range of organizations including US-Ukrainian Foundation, Commission on the Status of Women – UN Women,  The Cleveland Clinic, MetLife, the United Nations Population Fund, WeWork, and the U.S. State Department speaking throughout Japan. Grossman is a former chair and leadership coach for Vistage International, the largest global CEO peer advisory board organization, where she facilitated meetings and coached CEOs, entrepreneurs and senior leaders for five years. She is a Senior Advisor, Women’s Leadership, for The Foundation for the Support of the United Nations and hosts their UN Conference  – Impact Leadership 21 – annually.

Website: lesliegrossmanleadership.com

Brian Gefter On Leadership

Brian Gefter On Leadership

A simple definition of leadership is the action of leading a group of people. This doesn’t sound complicated, yet anything that involves multiple people is never as simple as it might look. There are a variety of factors that surround what makes a person a good leader. Establishing a clear vision, communicating that vision to others so they want to follow it, providing the method to realize that vision, and managing any conflicting interests that arise are all part of leadership.

A Clear Vision

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Theodore M. Hesburgh

Creating a clear vision is essential for any project in any company at any time. Without a clear final destination, team members will be unsure of their goal and clients may not be confident in the team’s ability to deliver quality content. A focused end target, clearly defined at the beginning, alleviates any confusion or frustration and will help inspire and energize the team to reach the goal.

Communicating the Vision

Having a clear vision and being able to communicate it effectively to your team are two different components to great leadership. Communication is extremely important in all aspects of life, especially when it comes to understanding a client’s needs and then relaying those needs to others. To ensure the goal is fully understood by the team, use everything you can, including words and any visual aids that can help illustrate the vision. Ask the team questions to ensure they fully understand what is needed.

Realize the Vision

How is the team going to achieve this goal? While good leaders don’t micromanage their teams, they do provide a basic plan for reaching the target. A good leader is aware of the skills and limitations of their team, and a well thought out plan will take this into consideration. Flexibility is also required as there are always unknown issues that can arise. A good leader is able to take these in stride and make decisions to keep the project on task.

Managing Conflict

Conflicts can be anything from human resources issues to a technical aspect of a project to a client changing their mind about a design. It can be difficult to prepare for all the potential issues as there is never a way to know them all ahead of time. When conflicts do arise, remember to ask questions. During a conflict, the leader takes the role of mediator which needs a different approach. Questions are effective as they preserve the leader’s neutrality and gets others to pause, reflect, and get clear about the problem. This often leads to a conversation helping those involved to come to a resolution. 

While the definition of leadership is simple, the reality of being a good and effective leader can be complicated.

Utilizing these steps will help remove some of that complexity. Leaders never stop learning how to be more effective, as there is always something to learn when it comes to exhibiting great leadership.

Brian Gefter On Leadership About the Author: Brian Gefter is a leading event marketer.

Communication in Business Leadership

Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

Communication is a core foundation of leadership as successful communication and powerful leadership are closely related. A great leader understands the exchanging of information is crucial to relationships within an organization and outside of it and will work at developing the skills needed to address the ever-changing needs of their business.  

Communication in Business LeadershipNonverbal

Much communication is nonverbal, exactly how much is up for debate. Some people think as high as 93% of the information we gather is nonverbal, others put the number at around 60%. Either way, a great leader knows that as much as half of what is being communicated is through nonverbal means such as facial expressions, gestures, posture, and body language. Ensure your nonverbal communication matches what is being conveyed.

Be present

Be actively present in all interactions, no matter how trivial you think the conversation may be. Being engaged shows that you care and lets the team know they can come to you with any issue and be met with respect. Ask questions that will foster intelligent communication and productivity in the team. Reaching the target is accomplished by leveraging the talent around us by guiding the conversation with a specific goal in mind.

Actively Listen

Speaking less and listening more is an adage as old as time. Leaders can fall into the trap of thinking they know what someone is going to say before they say it. Those leaders aren’t being actively present in the conversation. Learning from those around us can only happen if we listen. To show you are actively listening remember to face the speaker, maintain eye contact, minimize distractions, keep an open mind, and ask questions paraphrasing the speaker’s points.


Smart communication can be simple communication. It is not always better to use more words than necessary as this can overcomplicate an issue. Keeping ideas as streamlined as possible can avoid misinterpretations as well help focus the message. Additionally, since many businesses communicate using different media simultaneously, keeping these messages simple will help a leader utilize this to the business’s advantage.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to regulate their own emotions and how their emotions affect others. Remaining calm under pressure, being self-aware, empathetic, and disciplined is imperative in a great leader. Since all business deals with people and people have emotions, it’s better for leaders to learn how to put themselves in another’s place and try to see things from their perspective. This can lead to better mediation for employee conflicts to smoother negotiations with clients. These emotional competencies can be learned, worked on and developed over time. 

Great communication is critical for a successful leader. Managing relationships, inspiring creativity, and motivating team members to reach their goals are just a few things a great leader is able to do. Great leaders know the importance of having a strong clear message, being present in every moment, actively listening to those around them, and being aware of how others are receiving the message.

Ronn Torossian - CEO - 5WPRAbout the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR firm.

Selecting the Strongest Leadership Team to Boost Company Success

Selecting the Strongest Leadership Team to Boost Company SuccessRonn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR 

A leader is only as strong as those around him or her. While it’s a huge accomplishment to be entrusted with a leadership position in any business, what almost matters more is the ability to supplement this with other thoughtful hires. Let’s say a business owner is building a new management team from the ground up. Are there any best practices to follow to ensure success? 

Define Values and Vision Before Hiring Leadership 

Hiring can be a huge headache, particularly when it comes to more senior positions. It’s important to identify what core values a leader should exhibit according to what the business’ goals are. It’s not simply about the experience or education someone has — his or her personality and values must also align with that of the company’s in order to have long-lasting success. 

A business owner seeking to build out a strong management team should start with a blueprint of what sort of roles they would like to see filled. Define the goals and purpose of the company, and find potential hires who will fit the bill for that vision. 

Make Sure the Leadership Team Can Work Together 

Even if a business owner hires the absolute top 5% of each field, this is by no means a guarantee of success. Personalities differ immensely, so finding the right mix is paramount. 

For example, a more stubborn type of personality may not mesh well with an entire group of like-minded individuals. Likewise, a highly data and results-driven individual may not see eye to eye with one who operates more empathetically. 

As Brian Gefter notes with his partner Mike Satsky, “however, a healthy mix of personalities can bring about great results. After all, there is usually more than one (or two!) ways to look at and solve a problem. Having a variety of perspectives can be useful, as long as any conflict is able to be resolved.  So find this out ahead of time. As a leadership team is formed, put them together and test out working environments and project management. Find out how each individual communicates and what makes them “tick”.” 

Stay On Top of the Future 

Many businesses make the mistake of getting too bogged down in the here and now. While it’s important to focus and prioritize, it’s also important to stay on task for growth strategy. Whether the business has three, five, or ten year plan, set milestones and check to see how the leadership team is helping move the needle. 

A leadership team that works well together will be invested in the long-term goal and the lasting impact. Having internal conflict that’s unresolvable will only cause the business and its long-term goals to backslide. Therefore, establishing a strong, capable leadership team is one of the best ways to ensure success. 

And good leadership trickles down to the rest of the workforce in a company. Positive leadership can still be results driven and have high morale in the office. It’s just about positioning and how leadership works with others. For this reason, a leadership team that works as, well, a team, will set a precedent for other workers who can then feed off of this environment. 

5WPR CEO Leads Crisis PR Discussion at Harvard Business SchoolAbout the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of Public Relations Agency 5WPR.

How Leaders Build Cultures of Success

Tabitha Laser, CSP

As a leader, you’re the person who employees look to when it comes to setting the tone of a company’s culture and how an organization is run. This is why it’s so important to have a defined roadmap when taking the helm and leading an organization down the path to success.

However, having a clear vision is only half the battle as a leader. Sure, you may have what you believe to be the perfect game plan for your organization to achieve success, but one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen otherwise good leaders make is the inability to inspire their employees. Even with the most clear-cut game plan, if you are unable to motivate your employees, don’t be surprised when you have a workforce that is more uninspired and listless than gung-ho about the future of the business. Unfortunately, this happens in organizations more often than any of us care to admit.

According to a recent “State of the Global Workplace” report by Gallup, “85 percent of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work.” This lack of interest results in a whopping $7 trillion in lost productivity worldwide.

But don’t let those stats dissuade you. In fact, use them as fuel as you and your team take steps to build a culture of success. So what can you do as a leader to ensure that this happens on your watch?

Here are a few tactics from my book, “Organization Culture Killers: Deadly Expectations” to get you started.

  1. Define what success means to your organization. Perhaps it’s fulfilling a particular quota by the end of the fiscal year, bringing on a specified number of new hires, or improving customer satisfaction. Whatever it is, be smart when addressing what success means to your organization. 
  1. Build a strong foundation. Regardless of whether you’re a company of five or fifty thousand, it’s imperative that you have a clear and fully defined mission, vision, values, and management system. Ensure that your workforce is aware of your expectations (policies, processes, and procedures) to meet your definition of success. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and is working towards a similar goal.
  1. Beware of the concrete barrier. In my years of experience consulting with leaders of various organizations, I’ve repeatedly witnessed an invisible barrier, referred to as the ‘concrete barrier’ because it forms from defects in the organization’s foundation. It also blocks and distorts the flow of information between senior leadership (those who define success) and the rest of the organization (those who are responsible for delivering success). As you can imagine, these communication issues often lead to missed opportunities, falsified data, misunderstandings and workforce strife, preventing organizations from traveling their desired path to success.  Clear and transparent communication of your definition of success,  the expectations necessary to achieve success and the value they bring towards delivering sustainable success with your employees is the first step in mitigating this from happening.
  1. Measure your organization’s progress to success. When defining your expectations, utilize specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals to track progress towards success. Goals based on leading indicators will provide more relevant and reliable data, while motivating the workforce to deliver success more efficiently and effectively.
  1. Feedback and follow-up are critical. Sure, it’s easy to shut the door of your office and pound away at emails all day (the old adage, “out of sight, out of mind” comes to mind), but if you truly want to know the state of your organization, you need to be constantly seek feedback. This includes tracking and trending the progress towards delivery of your goals in addition to observing work in progress, having conversations with your workforce to share updates and learn about opportunities for improvement, and assuring what is being reported is being delivered as reported. Perhaps you’re overlooking something that could help propel your organization forward and bring it one step closer to success. You won’t know unless the lines of communication are open.

These are just a few steps to get you started on the path to building a culture of success within your organization. Remember, clearly defining what success means to your business, having a well-defined management system in place, and possessing a clear road map to achieving success are the first steps you should take as a leader. Once these items are in place and shared with members of your workforce, you can move ahead confidently knowing that everyone is on the same page and that they share similar goals to creating a successful organization.

Problems Perpetuate When Blame Circles Back to the Blame InitiatorAbout the Author: Tabitha Laser is a multi-faceted professional with over 25 years of leadership experience in a variety of industries ranging from oil and gas, energy, manufacturing, agriculture, construction and more. Her diverse background has provided her opportunities to work with government agencies and some of the world’s largest companies, including Fortune 500 companies, BP, 3M, and General Mills. Her expertise has fueled her passion to help shape the next generation of leaders, especially millennials, to help avoid the pitfalls of their predecessors and lead beyond best. Tabitha is the author of Organization Culture Killers. The first book in a series of leadership books she calls, “The Deadly Practices.” Follow Tabitha.




Focus Media Promotes Four Employees to Executive, Leadership Roles

CommPRO.biz Editorial Team

Full-service public relations and marketing firm Focus Media announced that Nicole Feller, Ryann Hannigan, Adrienne Bodnar and Christine Cordova have been promoted.

Feller, of Montgomery, has become a Vice President. A five-year veteran of Focus Media, Feller is responsible for advertising concept development, media relations and editorial content. Having previously worked as a respected television journalist, including News 12 and RNN, Feller brings extensive media experience to the firm.

Feller earned a Cable Ace Award, as well as the Occupations Inc. Heart of Gold Community Service Award. She additionally has 18 years of experience as the Director of a nonprofit agency, where she successfully promoted numerous events, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer awareness and research. Feller is also an expert researcher with extensive knowledge in the field of education. She holds a master’s degree in library media science from Long Island University and a bachelor’s degree in English from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Hannigan, of Greenwood Lake, has become a Senior Director. She joined Focus Media in 2014. In her new role, Hannigan leads strategic projects and marketing campaigns. Hannigan received her bachelor’s degree in global communications from Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Bodnar, of Newburgh, has become a Director. She joined Focus Media in 2017 as a Senior Account Executive. She brings 14 years of marketing management experience from across numerous industries. Bodnar specializes in digital, print and database marketing, as well as trade show management and content creation. As a Director, she provides partners with knowledgeable support across many fields, including media planning and creative management. Bodnar earned both her MBA in marketing and media & communications and her bachelor of science in business administration and marketing from Fordham University.

Cordova, of Matamoras, Pennsylvania, has become a Director. She joined the Focus Media team in 2017 as a Public Relations Manager. As a Director, she assists the company and its clients with public relations and communications matters, handles day-to-day client needs and works closely with senior staff to contribute to a wide range of content development projects. Cordova earned bachelor of science degrees in advertising and public relations, as well as political communication, with a minor in pre-law studies from Florida Southern College.

“In this competitive job market, we are committed to internal growth for our top professionals that take the extra steps to lead,” said Focus Media President and CEO Josh Sommers. “These promotions are well deserved and I am confident these individuals will continue to deliver exceptional service to our clients in their new roles.”

To learn more about Focus Media, visit the company’s website.

Virtual Presence for Leaders 

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.

Being perceived as a leader is the essence of leadership presence. While most of my coaching focuses on helping leaders enhance their presence in face-to-face encounters, I also realize that a different set of skills is required for projecting leadership presence when communicating virtually.

Communication mediums run a spectrum from “lean” to “rich.” A lean medium transmits less information than a rich medium. If you are emailing, texting or typing in a chat window (lean mediums), there is nothing that gives added clues to the meaning of what you write. A communication channel becomes richer as you add human elements. Telephone calls and teleconferences give listeners access to vocal clues. Videoconferencing allows participants to view facial expressions and hand gestures. Whether in an email, over the telephone, or on a video conference, you can project leadership presence.


A recent report estimated that the average business person gets over 100 emails a day. Here are five ways to break through the clutter:

1) Start with a specific subject line

Using a generic: subject line like: “What do you think?” or “Checking in” has much less impact than a specific: “Need suggestions for the meeting agenda by end of the day.”

2) Make your message clear and concise

Brevity makes a positive impact. People are more likely to read short, concise emails than long, rambling ones, so make sure that your emails are as short as possible and try adding details in bullet points.

3) Proofread your message

Before you hit “send,” take a moment to review your email for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. Your email messages are as much a part of your professional image as your body language. Don’t diminish your leadership presence by sending out a message that contains typos.

4) Wait 24 hours when you’re upset

It’s never a good idea to send an email when you’re angry or in the throes of any strong negative emotion – although we’ve all done this. If you compose an email in anger (or frustration or disappointment), wait a day before sending it. Then read it over and see if it’s reflective of how you want to be perceived. (Does it enhance or deplete your leadership presence?) In almost all cases, you’ll either re-write or delete the original.

5) Don’t wait to say “thank you”

Another place where timing matters is whenever you send a “thank you” email. But in this case, the sooner, the better. Don’t wait days or weeks to express your appreciation. Do it right after the meeting — and you’ll greatly increase the impact of your positive comment.


On a telephone call it’s all in your voice. The words you choose, your speaking pace, volume, tone, inflection, pauses – all communicate their own messages. When you want to sound like a leader . . . here are my top four tips:

1) Lower your vocal pitch.

The quality of your voice can be a deciding factor in how you are perceived. Speakers with higher-pitched voices are judged to be less empathic, less powerful and more nervous than speakers with lower pitched voices.

One easy technique to use before joining the conference call involves putting your lips together while saying “Um hum, um hum, um hum.” Doing so relaxes your voice into its optimal lower pitch.

2) Stay focused

You may think you are fooling people when you check your messages or file your finger nails during a teleconference, but you are not. People can hear the “disconnect” in your voice and it reduces your leadership presence.

3) Sit up and smile

Sitting up, squaring your shoulders, and keeping your head straight gives you vocal energy – and smiling puts warmth in your voice.

4) Build virtual trust

  • Use inclusive language – “we,” “us”, “together” – as much as possible.
  • Take a few minutes for “small talk” at the beginning of the call. The more you and your caller get to know one another on a personal level, the more likely you are to trust each other.
  • Instead of just reacting to what someone says, acknowledge her first by saying “That’s an interesting point you just made …”, or “What you said reminds me of . . .” or “Building on your idea about . . .”


In video meetings, you add richer communication cues by offering a partial view (usually from your chest to the top of your head). And what people see is often more impactful than anything you say. Here are for things to remember when on camera:

1) Look like a leader

It takes less than seven seconds for people to make judgments about your confidence, competence, professional status, and warmth. While a face-to-face meeting gives you added opportunities to create a positive impression (the way you enter the meeting room, shake hands, and so on), on the screen, it’s all about your visual presence. So be sure your grooming and wardrobe send the right message.

2)  Start off with the right attitude
Regardless of how tiring or frustrating your day may have been, before you go on camera pull your shoulders back, hold your head high, take a deep breath, and smile. Think about showing up as your “best self” — exuding ease, confidence and warmth.

3) Make eye contact

Eye contact is hugely important in nonverbal communication. If a speaker actively seeks out eye contact, she is judged to be more believable, confident and competent. In person this involves looking directly in someone’s eyes. In a video meeting, you have to maintain eye contact by looking into the camera when you talk and at the screen when others are speaking. It’s a good idea to lower the monitor camera a little so that you don’t have to tilt your head back to gaze up at it. (And if you use notes, attach them at camera-eye level.)

4) Watch your gestures

If you use open gestures, you’ll be perceived more positively. But be aware that too much hand movement can look jerky on screen – so slow your gestures down for the best effect. Gestures that are so large that your hands go out of view are useless, so keep your hands in the frame.

Remember, too, that regardless of how comfortable you may be crossing your arms, this gesture is almost always perceived as a sign of resistance. And, since the human brain pays more attention to negative messages than it does to positive ones, people are unconsciously on the alert for signs that something is wrong.

One final thought: As important and pervasive as virtual communication is, when it comes to projecting leadership presence, nothing beats the impact you can make in person. Massari is a Vice President at Ceasars Entertainment. His advice: “If it’s not that important, send an email. If it’s important but not mission critical, pick up the phone. If it’s critically important to the success of your organization, go see someone.”

Virtual Presence for Leaders - Carol Kinsey GomanAbout the Author: Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D. is an international keynote speaker and leadership presence coach. She’s a leadership contributor for Forbes, the creator of “Body Language for Leaders” (LinkedIn Learning’s top video course for the past 3 years), and the author of “The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help – or Hurt – How You Lead.” For more information, visit https://CarolKinseyGoman.com

5WPR CEO With Advice & Steps to Take When Improving Leadership Skills

5WPR CEO With Advice & Steps to Take When Improving Leadership Skills One of the characteristics of a good leader is a willingness to learn and an acknowledgement of the fact that there is always room for improvement. In some situations, leaders feel they’ve reached peak success and only need to coast from there. This is untrue and is in actuality a terrible mindset for any person in a position of authority. Leaders who are wanting to improve their skills will do well to heed the advice in this article, which outlines steps that can be taken to do a “skills audit” and work to improve from there. 

Make a List of Good and Bad Characteristics 

The first step of an audit is to identify areas that need improvement. When it comes to best practices to be a good leader, doing an internal audit of what could be done better is essential. This requires a good bit of honesty and self-awareness. 

Write down the character traits that most identify with good leadership, and follow it up with traits that may be more of a downfall or area to improve. It’s okay to be a bit harsh in this process, but conversely it’s also okay to remember the positives and results that have come from being in a leadership position. 

Ask for Constructive Feedback (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)

 Self-awareness is key, but so is the idea of gathering feedback and data from others. Many leaders solicit feedback, but fail to actually do anything with it. Don’t be that guy. 

When doing a leadership skills audit, it’s just as important (if not more important) to take others’ feedback into account. Offer an informal survey or call an open-floor discussion meeting. Understand that not every person will be glowing with their reviews, and that’s more than okay. 

Once all feedback has been gathered, it can be measured against the list that each manager has made for themselves. Are there any glaring differences? Maybe the employee feedback says that the manager is a bad listener, when the manager’s own list has “listening” as a positive skill. 

Compare the feedback that’s been both received and given and identify commonalities. A true leader will be open and honest with themselves when accepting constructive feedback. 

Make an Action Plan 

Once the first step is complete, it’s time to form a plan to get to the next milestone. Remember, improving leadership skills is an ongoing task, not just a one-off project. 

Take the time to make an action plan for each element of improvement. If becoming a better listener is on the list, find some resources to brush up on what it means to be a good, active listener. Practice active listening in conversation. 

If a leader is tasked with improving their workflow — perhaps they’ve been noticed spending too much time sending pointless emails or maybe they have trouble meeting important deadlines — the first attempt at fixing the problem may not always be a rousing success. It’s encouraged to try different tactics to see what works the best. Not every solution works for every person. 

Stay Accountable 

At the end of the day, accountability is an important element of improving any skill. A leader who truly cares about improving will take steps to maintain accountability. Perhaps they have their own manager or superior to defer to. Maybe there is a possibility to find a leadership mentor. 

Improving any skill takes a lot of work and even more dedication, but the results can pay off in spades. Doing a skills audit such as this regularly will go a long way to improve management skills and, by association, morale and productivity in the workplace. 

About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.

The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership Names Faculty Director and Announces 2019 Schedule

Leslie Grossman at GWUCommPRO Editorial Staff

Leslie Grossman was appointed faculty director of the new Women’s Leadership Program at the George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership (CEPL).  GW CEPL has scheduled two 3-day women’s leadership programs for 2019:  April 3–5 and October 16-18, both to be held at GWU’s Alexandria, Va. Graduate Center. Grossman’s appointment and the 2019 dates for the executive leadership program was announced by Ina Gjikondi, director of executive education and coaching.

The Women’s Leadership Program at GWU CEPL was introduced October 24, 2018 with a highly interactive 3-day program developed by Grossman. It is designed for women executives in the private and public sectors who aspire to positions of greater influence and impact or have been identified as high-potentials in their organizations. The program provides participants with transformational communication skills, executive presence and guidance for building trust, culture, vision and thought leadership. In addition to Grossman leading the sessions, the program features experts and leaders as guest speakers and panelists.

“Our first women’s leadership program in Fall of last year, under Leslie Grossman’s direction, received accolades from the women leaders attending,” said Gjikondi. “We heard from participants that the transformational nature of the program produced great impact on their confidence and communication skills, and provided solutions to the unique challenges many women leaders face.” Gjikondi added, ” It is clear that women executives benefit from a gender-specific program and that Leslie Grossman was the right choice to lead it.”

Grossman is a senior fellow at GWU CEPL. In that role she leads workshops, including the Step Up to the Mic program, and is an executive coach in the CEPL Leadership Coaching Program. Previously, she founded The Women’s Leadership Exchange, a national conference program for women entrepreneurs and executives. She is the author of two books including “Link Out: How to Turn Your Network into a Chain of Lasting Connections” (Wiley). She is a graduate of The George Washington University Columbia College, attended New York University in Counselor Education and is a certified executive coach by Vistage International.

For more information or to register for the women’s leadership program, go to https://cepl.cps.gwu.edu/womens-leadership-program or contact Ina Gjikondi at gjikondi@gwu.edu and 202-994-5313

The CCO of 2020 – How the Communications Function and Its Leaders are Evolving

The CCO of 2020 – How the Communications Function and Its Leaders are EvolvingWes Tyeryar, Director of Strategic Partnerships, PublicRelay

The role of the Chief Communications Officer and the communications function is changing rapidly. Communications has been elevated to a proactive function that is increasingly providing value across the organization. This topic was discussed in a recent CommPRO webinar by top communications executives. Here are five ways that show how the role has evolved:

You Need to Be a Business Person

You may have turned to communications because you weren’t a math person, but gone are the days where communicators can shy away from understanding broader business numbers. The next generation of CCOs are using business data to earn themselves a seat at the decision-making table.

Bill Price, VP of Communications at Zoetis, explained that having that clear line of strategy across the business is essential to achieving goals. But to play the game, you must speak the language. David Chamberlain, VP of Corporate Communications at PNC adds that “we have to be business people who are communications experts, that are socially engaged.” He adds that “what I mean by business people, is that we’ve first got to be able to have a discussion about the business on the businesses’ terms, not just as a communications expert, for us to be able to move with them”.

CCOs Must Align Comms to the Business through Data-Driven Strategies

All-star communication teams are characterized by a close alignment of communication targets and business goals. However, current metrics commonly employed by PR teams fail to live up to modern standards.

David Chamberlain adds: “How we take in all that data and make sense of it and turn it into the insights that are actually actionable, to me, is something that most communications teams that I’ve seen struggle with …But as our social media and our traditional media evolve and new forms of media give us greater ability to measure and see analytics, I think that this type of interpretation and insight is probably going to be one of the critical skills that we all need to develop and strengthen going forward.”

Far too many departments are still struggling to understand data, let alone capture accurate metrics around tone, share of voice, or brand reputation. Next generation CCOs and their departments need to show their impact on business goals and the key is to tame the data wilderness by focusing on harnessing it for actionable insights.

Leads Must Modernize and Keep Up with the Times due to the Competitive Landscape

According to Arthur Page Society, the environment in which enterprises operate is fraught with emergent challenges from new competitors reinventing traditional business models to new modes of work, regulatory and socioeconomic factors. This has transformed how individuals communicate with one another and engage more actively with organizations.

Communicators are responsible for keeping pace with these times and advising their senior leaders on how to keep up. The communicator of the future harnesses media intelligence to understand their market and share findings with other parts of the organization like the C-Suite, IR, marketing and product development.

CEO of Strategic Profiles Management, Graeme Harris echoed this when he explained that during his past tenure as SVP of Communications at Manulife, it was his job to track key technological innovations. He added that this was essential information to help advise the senior executives on how their institution was keeping pace with the industry.

The Communications Function is Breaking Down Silos and Elevating itself

Communications leaders must communicate both internally – bringing together data and, externally – bringing voices from across the entire organization.

In many organizations such as PNC, communications is playing the role of breaking down organizational silos. For instance, David Chamberlain has taken the role of not just reporting on his team, but also sharing the results of the entire organization across the board. He adds that playing this new role as an integrator within his organization “has helped give Corporate Comms a halo, not only as an integrator, but as a strategic player and someone that people want to involve.”

Strategic Planning is a Much More Integrated Process

In addition to serving as a corporate integrator, communications itself has expanded tactically. Bill Price recounts “I can remember years ago when you developed communications plans and social media was an add-on at the end, or it was all about the press release…the way we approach everything now is much more integrated.”

Today, modern communications plans often encompass a mass array of tactical plans from media relations, to digital communications and even customer engagement. With all these different activities, teams need to find a way to pull in different sources of data from traditional and social media and measure them in a consistent matter that tracks your impact on the bottom line: specifically, quantifying brand reputation and impact on corporate goals. 

For more executive insights on staying relevant as a communicator and the evolution of the communications function watch our CommPRO Webinar: How to Stay Relevant in 2020

Caliber Corporate Advisers Solidifies Leadership Team with the Appointment of Grace Keith as President

CommPRO.biz Editorial Team

Strategic marketing communications firm, Caliber Corporate Advisers, today announced it has further strengthened its leadership team by appointing Grace Keith as president. Keith most recently served as managing director, where she supported the strategic growth of the firm alongside Caliber’s founder and CEO, Harvey Hudes.

In her new role, Keith will lead Caliber’s operations across its offices in Austin and New York, setting the strategic direction for the team and the company as a whole. She will also focus on exploring expansion opportunities and evaluating additional service offerings, as well as strategic partnerships.

“Throughout her career, Grace has been a trusted voice for executives and companies that seek to meet the PR and marketing needs of their evolving industries,” Hudes said. “At Caliber, she has played an integral part in supporting our team and providing our clients with PR and marketing guidance for the past four years. Her experience, leadership qualities and client-centric focus will continue to help Caliber build on its success.”

The growth Caliber has experienced thus far in 2018 is evidenced by its increasing roster of clients as well as a number of strategic hires tied to the team doubling over the past year. This expansion is a continuation of 2017 momentum, which included the firm’s acquisition of Leverage PR, an Austin-based marketing and public relations firm specializing in the financial services, real estate and technology sectors.

“It’s been an honor to be part of Caliber’s growth thus far, and I’m thrilled to take on this new role and lead our team to the next chapter in our company’s story,” Keith said. “I’m committed to delivering on our mission to help financial, technology and professional services companies tell their stories and connect with stakeholders through creative marketing and communications efforts.”

Keith holds an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business and has held leadership positions in marketing and communications at Thomson Reuters and OTC Markets Group. She has wide-ranging experience leading communications programs for major financial services firms and emerging technology companies that are shaping the future of their respective industries. Keith is also a sought-after communications expert having discussed PR strategy with The Wall Street Journal and spoken on a number of broader financial services topics at key industry events.


All Children’s Hospital Leaders Leave After Scathing Report

 Ronn Torossian Attachments 2:20 PM (25 minutes ago) to me  All Children’s Hospital Leaders Leave After Scathing ReportRonn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

There’s been a major shakeup at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Tampa, FL, after a scathing report was published in the local newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times. The media investigation uncovered “dramatic increases” in mortality rates for heart surgeries performed at that hospital. In response, the CEO, Dr. Jonathan Ellen, as well as two other hospital administrators, VP Jackie Crain and surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Jacobs, have resigned.

Later, it was announced that another physician, Dr. Paul Colombani, who was chair of the department of surgery, also stepped down. All four officials have also been scrubbed from the hospital website.

According to the report, at least eight different hospital employees spoke with supervisors, beginning in 2015, about concerns they had related to surgeries at the hospital. Of these, several told the media they shared those concerns directly with Colombani. The report was explicit and detailed, connecting those who resigned with serious negative outcomes for patients.

In addition, the report stated that hospital leadership either ignored or overlooked these warnings, despite two specific physicians coming up, time and again, in co-worker complaints or concerns. At present, none of the four officials who resigned is speaking to the media. However, the health system’s PR team released this statement:

“The events described in recent news reports are unacceptable… We will share the lessons learned from that review to ensure that Johns Hopkins, Johns Hopkins All Children’s and other hospitals around the country can learn from and avoid the mistakes that were made… Losing a child is something no family should have to endure, and we are committed to learning everything we can about what happened at the Heart Institute, including a top-to-bottom evaluation of its leadership and key processes…”

That’s a good beginning, but the real message the hospital is up against isn’t “avoiding mistakes” or “not listening to concerns.” The narrative facing officials at the hospital system is simple, blunt, and tragic: “11 Dead Children.”

That’s the message the media is leading with, and it’s one that countless local consumers are grabbing onto the first time they hear it. Now, local congressional representatives are getting involved, effectively escalating this situation for all involved. And the message they’re hearing is coming from people like Sandra Vazquez, whose son died after heart surgery in 2017: “Hopefully, children won’t continue dying… For many families it’s too late, but other children can be saved.”

Faced with that, questions of “who knew what” and “when did they know” are subsumed by anger, fear, and demands for accountability that the hospital will have to answer. In the meantime, many great doctors and medical staff still work there, every day, trying to save lives in dire circumstances. As hospital leadership works to deal with this PR crisis, they would do well to give those people a voice.

About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of NYC based PR agency 5WPR.

Diverse Voices, Profiles in Leadership (On-Demand Video)

Event Overview

The PRSA Foundation has launched a first-of-its-kind diversity initiative designed to empower minorities in all stages of their careers, while also educating employers on ways to support their growth. Three of the diverse leaders featured in the book: Helen C Shelton Senior Partner Finn Partners, Judith Harrison Senior VP Diversity & Inclusion Weber Shandwick and Drew McCaskill Senior Vice President Global Communications & Multicultural Marketing Nielsen spoke to Doug Simon, CEO at D S Simon Media during this Social Media LIVE™ broadcast. They took a deep dive on issues related to the panelists success, overcoming prejudice in the workplace, handling micro aggressions and provided guidance for advancing your career in PR as a multicultural employee and attracting and retaining top multicultural talent in an organization.


Andrew McCaskill, SVP, Global Communications & Multicultural Marketing, Nielsen 

Andrew McCaskill is an accredited marketing, communications and crisis management executive with 20 years of experience delivering award-winning communications and brand campaigns at Fortune 500 companies and highly successful technology startups. He’s currently SVP global communications and leads US consumer and multicultural marketing at Nielsen. He holds a BA from Morehouse College and an MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. He completed his most recent global assignment for Nielsen in Shanghai, China, has been named PR Week’s Top 40 Under 40 global PR executives, and is co-author of Nielsen’s 2017 Diverse Intelligence Series on the cultural and economic impact of US multicultural women.  





Judith Harrison, Senior VP Diversity & Inclusion, Weber Shandwick

 Judith drives programs designed to build a multicultural workforce that leverages diverse backgrounds and perspectives to create innovative solutions for clients and an inspiring, high-performance workplace. She develops strategic plans, drives the sharing of best practices globally, partners with diversity & inclusion leadership development and professional organizations to increase awareness of Weber Shandwick’s commitment to diversity, and leads innovative talent outreach initiatives to build a strong pipeline of potential staff.

In addition to human resources and recruiting experience, Judith’s background includes public relations and marketing communications positions and projects at Burson-Marsteller, Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young), CBS, Media General, Random House and the Italian Trade Commission

Since joining Weber Shandwick in 2006, Judith has guided the firm to recognition as a champion of diversity and inclusion, with honors including the PRWeek/PR Council Diversity Distinction in PR Awards in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016, and the 2016 PR News Diversity Heroes Award as an Organization of the Year. She brought the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) together with the PR industry to form the PRIME (Public Relations Internship, Mentoring and Education) Program, launched in 2015 with sponsorship from Fortune 500 companies as well as leading PR agencies.

Judith served the PR Council as chair of its HR Roundtable for three years.  She has been listed in Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World. She was awarded the 2011 STAR Award by New York Women’s Agenda and was named as one of Savoy’s Top Influential Women in Corporate America in 2012 and 2014. She was honored with the 2016 PR News Diversity Heroes Award as an Individual of the Year. Judith serves as president of the PRSA Foundation as well as  on the board of ColorComm, the advisory board of the Ron Brown Scholar Program and the 4A’s Diversity Steering Committee.


Helen C. Shelton, Senior Partner, Finn Partners

Helen Shelton is a communications strategist with particular expertise in creating impactful platforms and programs that address the needs and interests of diverse audiences.  At Finn Partners, Helen oversees the agency’s Diversity and Inclusion program, Actions Speak Louder: Partners for Diversity, while also developing volume-driving, consumer-engaging campaigns in the health and wellness, lifestyle, entertainment, retail and media sectors.

Helen has worked tirelessly in the industry not only to responsibly promote products but also to advance important causes, ranging from adult education and housing, arts and culture, voter registration, disparate unemployment and disease awareness initiatives.

A native New Yorker, Helen holds a dual B.A. degree in art history and government from Dartmouth College and an M.S. degree in journalism and communication from Boston University.  Named one of the 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business by The Network Journal magazine, Helen is a Board Member of the Public Relations Society of America’s New York Chapter, where she has served as VP of Marketing for two consecutive years.

She is a recipient of a PR Week Award for Multicultural Marketing Campaign of the Year for her work in conceiving and managing Believe in Healthy BP, a national hypertension awareness program featuring Grammy®-winning recording Gospel artist Yolanda Adams. Helen is also the recipient of the Circle Award for Excellence in Communications from ColorComm. Helen received the BCA Global Vision Award for her work in the spirits and wine industry and has served as an adjunct professor of communications at New York University’s School of Continuing Professional Studies. In her spare time, Helen enjoys Italian cinema and literature.


Moderated by Douglas Simon, CEO,  D S Simon Media

Doug Simon is the CEO of award-winning video influencer marketing firm D S Simon Media. His firm advises and executes broadcast and social media video communications campaigns on topical issues for senior leadership of brands and non-profits. His firm has completed more than 100 projects for DC based industry groups and non-profits and has been involved with political campaigns on the local and national level since 1992. 

His firm pioneered Social Media LIVE™–multi-camera video production featuring an organization’s leadership with influencers distributed live to up to 30 social media sites simultaneously. Its unique approach to guiding clients, PRketing®, which connects communications to marketing results, was awarded a trademark by the US patent office. 

Doug is frequently quoted in top media across platforms. Television appearances include Reuters, Dateline NBC, PBS, CNN, Fox News Live and WNBC. He’s appeared on NPR and been quoted in USA Today and on The Huffington Post in addition to numerous trade publications. Doug’s video commentary on the 2012 political conventions was picked up by the humor site Funny or Die. 

Doug is the President-Elect of the PRSA-NY Chapter and he was a three-time president of the Publicity Club of New York. Additionally, he is the Founder of SPOKEies® the first ever awards program to recognize in-house spokespeople for representing their brands with authenticity and building trust. Doug began his broadcast career at NBC Sports, where he served as Talent Assistant to Bob Costas. His hobbies include performing stand-up comedy at New York’s top clubs and rooting for terrible sports teams including the Jets and Knicks while still remaining optimistic.




Ronn Torossian With 3 Dos and Don’ts of Thought Leadership Marketing

Ronn Torossian With 3 Dos and Don'ts of Thought Leadership MarketingIn the past, marketing was simple. Companies simply paid to display their advertisements on televisions and billboards or paid a copywriter to talk about how amazing their business was. However, in the modern age, where customers are more skeptical than ever before, brands are under increasing pressure to prove that they’re as sensational as they claim to be. 

Thought leadership is just one of the strategies that have emerged to help entrepreneurs demonstrate their true professionalism and expertise. Through thought leadership articles, videos and podcasts, business leaders can demonstrate that they genuinely understand their audience’s concerns and have the solutions that they’re looking for. 

The question is, how can companies make the most of thought leadership strategies?

1.     Show Don’t Tell 

The idea behind thought leadership content is that it provides companies with a way to demonstrate their expertise, rather than just telling people how knowledgeable they are. It’s crucial to convince customers that the brand knows what it’s talking about. 

This means that if a business leader wants to show that their company understands digital marketing, they can’t just talk about how much they’ve learned about marketing over the years. They need to address some of the most common problems that their audience is facing and show them actionable ways to overcome those issues.

2.     Dig Deep, Don’t Just Scratch the Surface 

While almost anyone can write an article that provides actionable advice with a little bit of research, the thing that separates a thought leadership piece from any other blog is its depth and attention to detail. Being a thought leader doesn’t necessarily mean that someone knows everything about every corner of their field. Instead, it means that they’re the go-to person in their niche for a specific thing. 

A highly detailed blog post backed by statistics and quotes from other thought leaders will make much more of an impact than several shorter posts that only touch the surface of certain topics. Thought leaders need to be willing to look at topics from different angles and explore ideas that other people have never considered before. This is how they set themselves apart from the crowd.

3.     Analyze, Don’t Assume 

Finally, it’s important to take an analytical approach to thought leadership. It’s easy for business leaders to assume that they know what people want to learn about, but the truth often surprises them when they dig down into their analytics. Before producing a thought leadership piece, it’s a good idea for industry experts to carefully consider the needs of their target audience. 

It may be worth looking at things like trending topics on social media or sending out a poll where people can vote on what they want to hear most from a specific business. Take note of what customers are truly asking for, then respond to their questions and needs with a thought leadership piece that demonstrates expertise and industry knowledge. 

Achieving success with thought leadership isn’t easy – but with these three tips, company leaders can improve their chances of impressing their audience.

About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of PR Agency 5WPR.



Top Female Communications Leaders Honored with WiCi Award

CommPRO Editorial Staff

New York Women in Communications (NYWICI)  announced the 2018 WiCi Awards honorees, in recognition of the communications industry’s top rising stars. Five young communications leaders will be honored on Tuesday, October 23 during a special event hosted at the Meredith Corporation in New York City. Julie Hochheiser Illkovich, past WiCi honoree, and Co-Founder, Managing Partner, and President of Editorial Operations at Masthead Media Company, will emcee.

Top Female Communications Leaders Honored with WiCi AwardThe WiCi Awards complement the NYWICI’s prestigious annual Matrix Awards ceremony, which honors women at the pinnacle of their communications careers. WiCi Award winners are women who represent the next generation of communications leaders; have made significant contributions to her company and industry; are admired by peers and employees; embody the values of New York Women in Communications; and who are actively involved in the communications industry​​.

2018 WiCi Awards Honorees:

  • Jennifer Bender  Senior Manager of Strategy & Commercial Operations, Pfizer
  • Ashley Miles  Chief Client Officer, Head of Advertising, North America, Refinery29
  • Lauren Skowronski – Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, NBCUniversal
  • Michelle Tan  Editorial Director, MAKERS
  • Lisa Tobin  Executive Producer for Audio, The New York Times

Past award recipients include Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, Co-founders of theSkimm, Elaine Welteroth, Journalist and Editor; Leslie Pitterson, Vice President of Communications, U.S. Media, Nielsen; Tammy Tibbetts, CEO/Co-founder of She’s the First;  Amy Odell, Journalist; Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code;  Mara Schiavocampo, Correspondent for ABC News; and Sara Haines, TV Host and Journalist, among others.

 “We are proud to honor these remarkable women, whose talents and drive are making a lasting impact on the communications business,” said Judith Harrison, President, New York Women in Communications and Senior Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion, Weber Shandwick. “We look forward to watching them continue to grow, lead and innovate in our ever-changing industry.”

New York Women in Communications is the premier professional organization for women in communications in the New York City metro-area, the hub that shapes the way people communicate around the world. The organization is dedicated to promoting the highest standards throughout the industry, providing education and leadership that empowers women communicators across all disciplines, and at every stage of their careers.

“Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership” – Just Released by PRSA Foundation and Museum of Public Relations

Book Proceeds Will Support PRSA Foundation Efforts to Jump-Start Careers of Students from Diverse Backgrounds

The PRSA Foundation, an independent, 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to advancing diversity and inclusion within the communications profession, announced today that it has teamed with the Museum of Public Relations to develop “Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership”. The book, a collaborative effort that is supported by the leading entities in the communications profession, is designed to help communications leaders and professionals better understand the challenges faced by minorities in the field.

“Diverse Voices” features interviews with more than 40 corporate and PR agency leaders and educators of diverse backgrounds. These executives, many of whom have risen to the highest level of the communications profession, share candid anecdotes detailing successes and challenges that they have faced during their career as well as insights to not only help those entering the field, but also to serve as a resource for organizations to create inclusive workplaces that foster retention and career growth.

“‘Diverse Voices’ is a powerful read that provides raw, candid firsthand accounts from diverse professionals who have built careers within the communications field,” said PRSA Foundation President Judith Harrison. “Their paths to success, which are equally diverse, have at times been mired by unconscious bias and, in some instances, conscious racism. These stories not only provide great insight into the challenges that multicultural professionals face within PR, but also offer real advice on how the industry can work together to create a more inclusive profession.”

Individuals profiled within “Diverse Voices” include Michael Sneed, executive vice president of global corporate affairs and chief communications officer at Johnson & Johnson; Torod Neptune, chief communications officer at Lenovo; Catherine Hernandez-Blades, chief brand and communications officer at Aflac; and Jon Iwata, former SVP and chief brand officer at IBM; among many others. The book’s preface is written by industry icon Harold Burson, co-founder of Burson-Marsteller (now Burson Cohn & Wolfe).

In 2019, the PRSA Foundation will facilitate “Diverse Voices” talks at colleges and universities, using the book’s participants as speakers when possible. The intention is to provide diverse students with guidance to get a head start upon graduation and begin successful career trajectories in the communications field.

“‘Diverse Voices’ will be a valuable resource not only for students and educators, but also for managers of all levels in agencies, corporate communications departments and other communications organizations,” said Shelley Spector, founder of the Museum of Public Relations. “The book will also help provide inspiration and guidance to students and early- to mid-career professionals and encourage more diverse talent to join and stay in the field.”

The book ($39.00) can be ordered here. Proceeds from “Diverse Voices” will support the PRSA Foundation’s charitable efforts to jump-start the careers of promising students from diverse backgrounds, while supporting mentoring and professional development for mid-level professionals.

“The need to improve diversity and inclusion is not just a moral one. Diversity enriches perspectives and strengthens the ability of communications teams to effectively engage with their publics in an increasingly connected global business and media environment,” said Joe Cohen, APR, president-elect of PRSA Foundation. “For many years, there has been a struggle to improve diversity within communications. ‘Diverse Voices’ marks an important step forward, as it is the first project that brings together the leading entities in communications, all working in concert to help create a more diverse and inclusive profession.”

The book is supported by: The Public Relations Society of America, The Public Relations Student Society of America, Page, PR Council, Institute for Public Relations, The LAGRANT Foundation, The International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communications, the National Black Public Relations Society, Hispanic Public Relations Association, The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, The International Communications Consultancy Organization and The Society for New Communications Research of The Conference Board, among others.

About the PRSA Foundation

The PRSA Foundation, an independent, 501(c)(3) charity, supports outreach to diverse students to attract them to PR and make them better prepared to contribute to the profession and to society when they enter the workforce, through partnerships with leading universities and professional organizations. For more information regarding the PRSA Foundation, its activities and its full board of trustees, visit www.prsafoundation.org.

About the Museum of Public Relations

The Museum of Public Relations is a 501(c)(3) educational institution chartered by the New York State Department of Education. As the world’s only museum dedicated to the PR profession, it exhibits artifacts from pioneers such as Ivy Lee, Edward Bernays, Ofield Dukes, Muriel Fox and Arthur Page. Its website houses a digital archive of oral histories, videos of Museum events and biographies of African-American PR pioneers as well as PR teaching materials.

The Museum conducts a free summer school and produces special events including celebrations of Black PR History, Latino PR History and PR Women Who Changed History. For information, please visit www.prmuseum.org.

Leadership in Turbulent Times: The Executive Core Qualifications Illustrated by America’s Best Leaders



We are living in complex and uncertain times. We are constantly striving towards success, better performance and getting things done, and yet we are dealing with so much burnout, less satisfaction and lower engagement. According to the most recent Gallup Survey on the State of the American Workplace, only 33% of the US Employees are engaged at work compared to 70%, which we find in the world’s best organizations.

The State of Federal Career Senior Leadership Report administered by the Deloitte Survey Research Center (SRC) in collaboration with the Senior Executives Association (SEA), around the area of transformational leadership, identified that 61% of senior career leaders felt empowered to implement meaningful change, but only 52% of respondents agreed they are able to restructure their areas of responsibility as needed to respond to new ideas.

How might we help navigating change and transitions and yet embrace new ideas and innovation?  What does leadership look like in times like this and how might we create and build a resilient Senior Executive Service? The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership recognizes that not only do organizations need to change, but there are key tactics and strategies leaders can learn to practice and embrace for a thriving workforce.

In this CommPRO Webcast, Leadership in Turbulent Times: The Executive Core Qualifications Illustrated by America’s Best Leaders, you will hear Dr. Jared Peatman share strategies, action and inspiration on how to be on the cutting edge of learning and leading.  Here are the learning highlights he will discuss:

  • Leading People: The story of Civil War commander Joshua Chamberlain and his successful intervention with a bunch of mutineers offers a window to explore employee engagement – one of the most important aspects of leading people.
  • Leading Change: Alice Paul’s campaign to secure the Nineteenth Amendment is a story that brings alive a new model on the three types of people needed to lead change.
  • Building Coalition: Abraham Lincoln’s leadership during the first two years of the Civil War, particularly in the context of moving towards emancipation and the eventual abolition of slavery, offers fascinating practical steps to help build coalitions.
  • Results Driven: The Battle of Gettysburg provides a great way to consider the competency of results driven, particularly allowing us to dive into the sub-competencies of accountability, decisiveness, and problem solving, with models for each.
  • Business Acumen: Lastly, George Washington’s management of his estate at Mount Vernon, including the innovative farming techniques he introduced, offers a unique way to consider business acumen and the related concepts of risk management and the related concepts of risk management and sustainability.

This webcast is in support of GWU’s upcoming 9-Day Residential Senior Leader Program (SLP), on November 7-16 at the Bolger Center in Potomac, MD.  SLP is designed for Federal GS 14-15s and comparable levels in military, state or local government. Our SLP covers the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM’s) Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) and meets the required 80-hour interagency training requirement, focusing specifically on higher-level competencies.  The opportunity allows you to learn more about common and emerging leadership and management issues while developing strategies for effective change.

For more information and to register for the GWU Senior Leader Program program click here.




Ina Gjikondi, PCC, Director, Executive Education & Coaching, The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership

Ina is currently the Director of Executive Education & Coaching at the George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership. In this capacity she runs the day-to-day operations for the Open Enrollment & Coaching Programs and customized offerings of the government clients, which include leadership development work and executive coaching. In addition, she does outreach and develops new strategic partnerships. Ina is an organizational development professional and an ICF Certified Coach. In her work she integrates a variety of approaches and nuances in leadership development, training design and delivery, inspired and grounded by different schools of thought and wisdom in the world.  She has experience working in multicultural environments and believes in the power of the language as an orientation to life, change and growth. Her experience with leadership development and coaching has been primarily within the public sector with leaders across the organization, both at the federal and the local level. Prior to that Ina worked with various international and local nonprofits in Albania, her home country.

Ina is a Certified Integral Coach from the New Ventures West Coaching School. She holds an MA in Human Resources Development and an MPS in Political Management, both from the George Washington University. She did her BA in Law at the University of Tirana, Albania.

She is fluent in Albanian, English and Italian and has working knowledge of French. She loves working with women groups and especially women entrepreneurs and/or in transition. Her passion is to work individually with people who have openness for learning and are curious. She likes to see herself as an enabler of growth and prosperity.

She envisions a world where people create beauty and sustain safe communities, where the individual is able to live in Henosis (ΕΝΩΣΙΣ), oneness and the society is in full awareness, goodness and gratitude.

Special Guest

Dr. Jared Peatman, Senior Fellow, GW-CEPL, Founder and President of Four Score Consulting, LLC 

A graduate of Gettysburg College with a master’s degree from Virginia Tech and Ph.D. from Texas A&M, Jared Peatman is the founder and president of Four Score Consulting, LLC, a senior fellow at the George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership, and the director of curriculum for the Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg.  He provides training events that use history as a metaphor to examine current leadership and performance challenges.

Jared is the author of The Long Shadow of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  For that project Jared was named the Organization of American Historians and Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission Doctoral Fellow and in 2012 received the Hay-Nicolay Dissertation Prize for the best work on Abraham Lincoln or the Civil War.  He is also the author, with Steven B. Wiley, of A Transformational Journey: Leadership Lessons from Gettysburg.  He is currently working on a book about Joshua Chamberlain, the 20th Maine, and the Battle of Gettysburg.

Jared is certified to deliver the EQ-i2.0 and EQi 360 Emotional Intelligence assessments and holds a certificate in experiential education from the National Society of Experiential Education.


The Body Language of Collaborative Leaders

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D

During a break in my seminar on collaborative leadership, a man from the audience told this story: “My wife is an attorney, and I have always been a supporter of women in the workplace. I also believe in collaboration and try to make everyone feel included and appreciated. So I was totally taken aback when a woman on my management team said that I didn’t value her opinion. I assured her that I valued and relied on her insights and had often told her so. But then I got curious and asked her what I was doing that made the opposite impression. She said, ‘In meetings, you don’t look at me when I speak.’”

Then, he said, “My question to you is, how could this one small nonverbal cue have had such a powerful impact?”

His inquiry was well timed because the topic I was about to cover after break was the body language of collaborative leaders.

Our brains are hardwired to respond instantly to certain nonverbal cues, and that circuitry was put in place a long time ago – when our ancient ancestors faced threats and challenges very different from those we face in today’s modern society.

For example, in our prehistory, it may have been vitally important to see an approaching person’s hands in order to evaluate his intent. If hands were concealed they could very well be holding a rock, a club, or other means of doing us harm. In interactions today, with no logical reason to do so, you will instinctively mistrust me if my hands stay out of sight – shoved in my pockets or clasped behind my back.

The world has changed, but our body-reading processes are still based on a primitive emotional reaction. Today, the potential threats (and our brains are always on the alert for potential threats) are to our ego, our self-esteem, our identity. We are especially vulnerable in our desire to be included, to feel valued, to belong. This is why collaborative leaders need to be aware of their body language.

Think of it this way: In any interaction you are communicating over two channels – verbal and nonverbal – resulting in two distinct conversations going on at the same time. What my audience member underestimated was the power of alignment — that is, the spoken word needs to be aligned with body language that supports it. When this alignment doesn’t occur, the other person has to choose between the words and the body language. Almost always, she will believe the nonverbal message.

There are two sets of body-language cues that people instinctively look for in leaders. One set projects warmth and caring and the other signals power and status. Both are necessary for leaders today but, for a Chief Collaborator, the “warmer side” of nonverbal communication (which has been undervalued and underutilized by leaders more concerned with projecting strength, status, and authority), becomes central to creating the most collaborative workforce relationships.

When you use warm, “pro-social” body language with all team members, you create an emotionally rich environment that supports collaboration and high performance. Here are some examples of what I mean: A genuine smile not only stimulates your own sense of well-being, it also tells those around you that you are approachable, cooperative, and trustworthy. A genuine smile comes on slowly, crinkles the eyes, lights up the face, and fades away slowly. By way of contrast, a counterfeit or “polite” smile comes on quickly and never reaches the eyes.

Since collaboration depends on participants’ willingness to speak up and share ideas and insights, try using your head – literally. Research shows that you can increase participation by nodding your head with clusters of three nods at regular intervals.

Head tilting is also a signal that you are interested, curious, and involved. The head tilt is a universal gesture of giving the other person an ear. As such, head tilts can be very positive cues when you want to encourage people to expand on their comments.

And, as the man in my audience found out, one of the most powerful motivators to encourage participation is eye contact, because people feel that they have your attention and interest as long as you are looking at them. As a leader, you set the tone for the meeting. If you want people to speak up, focus on whomever is talking to make sure that he or she feels you are listening.

When talking with someone we like or are interested in, we subconsciously switch our body posture to match that of the other person – mirroring his or her nonverbal behavior. When you synchronize your body language with members of your team, you signal that you are connected and engaged.

You look more receptive when you uncross your legs and hold your arms comfortably away from your body (not folded across your chest or tight into your waist) with palms exposed or hands resting on the desk or conference table.

Positive attitudes toward others tend to be accompanied by leaning forward – especially when sitting down. When two people like each other, you’ll see them both lean in. Research also shows that individuals who lean forward tend to increase the verbal output of the person they’re speaking with. Also, face people directly. Even a quarter turn away creates a barrier (the “cold shoulder”), signaling a lack of interest and causing the speaker to shut down.

Physical obstructions are especially detrimental to the effective exchange of ideas. Take away anything that blocks your view or forms a barrier between you and the rest of the team. Close your laptop, turn off your cell phone, put your purse or briefcase to the side.

If you think it makes you look more efficient (or important) to be continually checking a laptop or cell phone for messages, I’d advise you to think again. As one member of a management team recently told me, “There’s this senior exec in our department who has a reputation of being totally addicted to his smart phone–which is especially distracting during internal meetings. When he finally focuses on others, peers make jokes about his ‘coming back to earth.’ The result is that when he does contribute, he has little credibility.”

The bottom line is: If you really want to foster collaboration, make sure you look and act like you do!

Airbus CEO Hammers UK Leadership on Brexit

Ronn Torossian, Founder & CEO, 5WPR

Some brands work very hard to stay completely out of politics, at least on the public policy level. Others seem to revel in a direct connection with policymakers, whether the support their efforts or oppose them. In the case of Brexit, many businesses that are based or very active in Europe have spoken out, offering clear and strong statements for or against the referendum that will remove the United Kingdom from the European Union.

One of the businesses that has been anything but shy about the nature of the company’s feelings on the subject of Brexit has been Airbus. CEO Tom Enders recently told reporters the British government had “no clue” how to successfully execute Brexit.

“The sun is shining brightly on the UK, the English [soccer] team is progressing towards the final, the RAF is preparing to celebrate its centenary and [the UK government] still has no clue, no consensus on how to execute Brexit without severe harm…” Enders said.

Now, apart from the fact that England is no longer in the World Cup, having been stunned by Croatia, Enders found a ripe audience for his comments. The British public remains divisively split on the subject of Brexit, with fewer people trying to find middle or common ground. Fears about what it will mean for the British economy already have political leaders talking about half-measures and partial steps leading to a not-as-complete exit from the EU as supporters would like.

Many believe Enders is speaking for quite a few British or EU businesses, who don’t quite know what their futures will look like after Brexit… This unknown has them worried, as the deadline for Brexit is set in just nine months. In addition to European companies such as Airbus (France) and BMW (Germany), British companies such as Jaguar and Land Rover have gone on record saying Brexit would be bad for their business. Given all these big-name brands speaking out about Brexit in such a negative way, they have to be relatively certain the political commentary will not damage their brand. Or, at least, that any damage to their brand will be offset by gains based on their perspectives.

That’s a tough calculus to figure out ahead of time, but these companies believe their math checks out. Enders, especially, has been outspoken about the British government’s handling of Brexit and the consequences those decisions could have for his company. Airbus is on record as saying if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal in place it would be “catastrophic” for the company, creating “chaos” in production and, potentially, “threatening its future” in Britain.

Millenials Drive A Key Leadership Trend In 2018

Dudley Slater, Fusion Leadership

Millennials [as the largest generation in today’s workforce] are powerful, and they are hungry! You’re organization and your career as a leader (or prospective leader) literally depends on your ability to satisfy this hunger.

So what’s the cause of the insatiable millennial tummy rumble? According to Whitney Dailey, director of marketing and research at Cone Communications, millennials “see where they work as an extension of who they are,” citing a recent millennial-engagement survey by Cone Communications. This need to self-identify with their employer explains the millennials’ hunger: to connect to their organization’s purpose or cause.

This powerful millennial-driven trend demands that effective leaders in 2018 answer the question “what leadership behaviors attract people to your organization’s purpose and how are those behaviors different from those that drive people away from your organization?” Answering this question will allow leaders to put meals on the table and begin to satisfy that millennial hunger to connect to their organization.

Explaining why the employees of Horizon Airlines banned together, being recognized with the coveted Regional Airline of The Year Award (from Air Transport World magazine), Jeff Pinneo, CEO at the time, explains that “everything you do is visible, and I can certainly affirm that people pay attention to everything,” he said. “I have this rule of thumb that, from the time you walk out of the men’s room stall, you’re on the stage, he added with a chuckle. You need to be aware—not to put on an act or anything—but just be aware that everything’s messaging when you’re CEO.”

This explains why Pinneo, whenever he’d fly on Horizon, after the plane landed, waited for all the passengers to deplane so he could help the flight crew clean out the seat pockets, pick garbage up off the floor, and make sure the baggage bins were empty. “So it didn’t matter how busy I was or what meeting I was trying to get to—I helped prepare the plane for its next flight. Culturally, that was something you could not miss.

At Horizon everybody did everything. For example, we had a very good pilot, one of our best, who wouldn’t think twice about coming out on his days off to paint ground equipment, if that’s what needed to be done. We had an entrepreneurial, we’re-all-in-this-together understanding.”

Pinneo understood that the way to attract employees to your organization’s purpose (to be the best regional airline in the United States, for example) is to constantly evidence your own personal commitment to that purpose; importantly, placing your organization’s purpose above (or at least equal) to your own ego-driven needs. Pinneo and eight other iconic national leaders share real world stories about how to evidence your passionate commitment to your organization’s purpose, thereby “fusing” their teams together in service of that shared purpose. These stories are shared in Fusion Leadership Unleashing The Movement of Monday Morning Enthusiasts, September 2017.

Pinneo and the other Fusion Leadership executives explain how they navigate the constant onslaught of tricky questions that tempt every leader to manage from the wrong side of the line between what evidences your commitment to the organization’s purpose and what leadership behaviors drive employees away from that purpose? For example, Pinneo chose to sacrifice his precious CEO time in order to plan an extra 20 minutes after every Horizon flight to clean out seatback pockets and pick up trash off the floor. By taking this time to evidence his commitment to Horizon’s purpose Pinneo was answering the question- as CEO what level of priority do you assign to working side by side with your front line workers? Other examples include questions like- when you conduct a meeting, who becomes the smartest person in the room? Or, whose job is it to take ownership of the crisis? Or, when you set compensation levels, how much do you pay yourself compared to how much you pay others?

As readers, the decisions we make in answering these and many similar questions communicates volumes to your team as to whether you are truly committed to your organizations purpose. Answer correctly and you earn the following of those in your charge. Answer incorrectly and you drive your team away from your organization.

By thinking through their actions in response to these daily behavioral questions, successful leaders fixate on connecting those in their charge to their organization’s purpose. The Brookings Institute predicts that millennials will represent 75% of the U.S. workforce by 2025, adding urgency to stay ahead of this trend. According to the 61 million millennials who will determine which organizations succeed and which organizations fail in 2018, this may be the most important leadership trend for leaders to think about heading into the New Year.

About the Author: Dudley Slater, co-author, with Steve Taylor, of Fusion Leadership Unleashing The Movement of Monday Morning Enthusiasts, co-founded and served as the 15 year CEO of Integra Telecom. https://fusionleadership.org