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National Leader of the Month for October 2008


Dr. Beverly Kaye

LeaderNetwork.org has provided two mediums for you to explore the insights of National Leader of the Month Beverly Kaye: read them below and listen to excerpts from a conversation on leadership between Brian McCormick and Beverly Kaye. To listen to the podcast, copy and paste the following RSS link into your preferred podcast software: http://www.leadernetwork.org/leadership_podcast.rss. In order to begin playing the audio in a separate window, click here Beverly Kaye audio.

Honoring Beverly Kaye

Dr. Beverly Kaye has demonstrated the ability to succeed in both the practical world and the world of academia. Practically, she has written about, spoken about, and offered worthwhile advice for success in the leadership arenas of development, engagement and retention. In addition, she has successfully been a researcher and writer whose insights are grounded in the background she attained through her post-graduate study and her on-going work in organizations. She is the founder and owner of a consulting business that has grown over the past 25 years. To speak with Dr. Kaye is to learn that she believes in individual responsibility and empowerment, but she certainly does not suggest that we tackle life's challenges on our own. Rather, she encourages us to actively seek out those mentors and resources who can make a positive difference in our lives.

When discussing her book, Love It, Don't Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work, she talks about some of the lessons her book offers. She discusses how it may not always be possible to have our ideal job, but we can still choose to make our current job more of what we want. In fact, she feels that the right perspective can help us to find purpose and meaning in the jobs that we have right now.

For Dr. Beverly Kaye's excellence and contribution to the field of leadership, she is the National Leader of the Month for October 2008.

About Beverly Kaye

Author, Lecturer & Consultant

Bio: founder and CEO of Career Systems International; author of Up is Not the Only Way (Davies Black publisher) and co-author of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay (Berrett-Koehler publisher) and Love It, Don't Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work (Berrett-Koehler publisher); co-editor of Learning Journeys, a collection of essays from management experts; holds a doctorate from UCLA; has completed graduate work at the Sloan School of Management at MIT.

Favorite quotes: I found a quote about 30 years ago that still speaks to me. I am not sure where it came from but it reads: “Life should be lived like a cavalry charge.” I’m very active and very energetic, and I multi-task all the time. I think I still lead life that way.

There are two quotes on the wall over my desk. One by Harriet Beecher Stowe says, “When you get into a tight place and it seems that you can’t go on, hold on--for that’s just the place and the time that the tide will turn.” The other quote, by Flora Whittemore, says, “The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.”

Favorite books: I love all the books that my friend Bill Bridges has written on transition. He writes about life transitions, and I often go back to his books when I’m in my own transition. Also, a friend of mine, Eileen McDargh, just wrote a lovely book called Gifts from the Mountain (published by Berrett-Koehler).

Books recommended for aspiring leaders: James Kouzes, a friend of mine, is one of the gurus of leadership. A recent book [of his that I recommend is] called A Leader’s Legacy. Marshall Goldsmith and Frances Hesselbein are also long-time friends and superb leadership writers. There is a book called Change Your Question, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams, another Berrett-Koehler author; she talks about the art of, (in my words) coming from curiosity and not from judgment in the questions that we ask. I think that good leaders must be able to do this. Marilee says it really well in her book.

Lifetime leadership highlights: I think highlights come in retrospect. They include all the times you say, “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t,” and then, eventually, like the Little Engine that Could, you get up that hill and over the hill, and all of a sudden you’ve done it, and you are in a new place. I think leaders know that you won’t always win; and sometimes failure is the best teacher. Again, in retrospect, you say “If not for that glitch or that upsetting event I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

What is up next for you? My organization has 30 full-time people and 30 part-time people. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I want the organization to become less Bev-centric. It’s already happening. I think there are many people in my company who do superb work, and I want them to be known for what they do, so I want to support their careers.

Ann Jordan is the VP of Marketing at Career Systems International, a Beverly Kaye company. When asked to comment on Bev's leadership, this is what Ann has to say. "Bev Kaye has led the charge for 29 years, to make Career Systems International what it is today. Her innovation, drive, and personal commitment to today’s workers (by building organizations that truly engage, develop and retain their employees), is evident in her everyday activities. Her style has successfully served as the foundation for CSI’s continued success. Working with Bev for the past eight years has been truly inspiring – imagine, working hand in hand with the woman who is teaching the world how to Love ‘Em so they don’t Lose ‘Em? She executes on her principles in Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay on a daily, if not constant, basis."

Lorianne Speaks is Beverly Kaye's Executive Coordinator. These are her thoughts on Bev: "I have worked for Bev Kaye for over six years, and she truly walks her talk! As a single mom, my schedule has fluctuated over the years (as my children grew), and Bev has always supported my desire to be there for my kids as my top priority. She lets me determine my hours around the office needs and my family's activities. She allows me the space to do my job while being the Mom I want to be."

Beverly Kaye and Leadership

Advice for aspiring leaders: Build yourself a support group: a group of peers who are willing to sit with you on a regular basis and give you their perspective on things while you give them your perspective. In my life I have several support groups, all of which played a different role in my life and all of which are critical to me - they help me continually.

The professional support group called The Learning Network has been meeting for twelve years. During our once-per-year meeting for a weekend, we connect around what we are doing, how we can do it more effectively, and how we can affect the world in bigger ways. It is an excellent professional support group.

I also belong to a women’s support group that has been meeting for over 30 years – we’ve seen each other through all kinds of crises. I think that a leader in any organization who keeps himself or herself isolated is missing the mark. Whether it’s a support group or support person, I think [they are] essential.

I have used a life coach for seven or eight years. When I met her, she said, “I’d love to be your coach.” I [responded], “What would you do for me? I’m in a good place right now.” She said, “I would help you press your pause button.” I remember thinking, “I didn’t think I had one.” [The coach then went on to say], “I would help you look at the life you just lived in the last week and look at the life you are about to live in the next week, and I’d say, 'Is there anything you want to talk about?'” I thought that was a wonderful idea. I’ve learned a lot from her. Now, I occasionally press my pause button, but I am still on a learning curve.

How do organizations stifle leaders? I think sometimes we stifle leaders by not giving them the support, the resources, or the time they need to really honor the people part of their job (and not just the task part of their job). In the book Love ‘em or Lose ‘em, we don’t say anything new about how managers should “love ‘em,” but we just repeat things to managers that they were taught once and know in their hearts but have been too busy to do.

What and where are the best training programs that exist for leaders? I think the Center for Creative Leadership has one of the best training programs for leaders. The important question is: How open are you to learning? How open are you to being taught?

In our own learning solution, Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em, we named 26 principles of good leadership. Those 26 strategies will help you hang on to your talent. A good leader develops people. They grow whether they grow in the same job or grow into other jobs. Growth and learning are critical. Also, good leaders know how to build good relationships. They know that people don’t leave organizations, but they do leave bad leaders. I think good leaders know they have to build an environment where people will thrive.

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