April 8, 2019 // 0 Comments

Emotional Transparency – Friend or Foe to Leadership?

One of the key tenets of Agile Leadership is transparency…and that includes emotional transparency. But for most people, including me personally, this particular principle almost always brings with it some internal conflict. I’ve always known that keeping secrets inherently divides humans, and erodes trust in any given relationship. Conversely, however, I wasn’t confident that “emotional nudity” has a role in business relationships.  And to complicate matters even further, I’m a female leader, against which just the potential for emotional “instability” is the weapon most commonly wielded. I mean, vulnerability is the enemy of chicks-in-charge…right?  Needless to say, it’s a topic on which I’ve done research for quite some time. Recently I found a 2017 Study published in The Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies that I found profoundly interesting. It concluded that when leaders express their true feelings and…

Continue reading
March 27, 2019 // 0 Comments

Building a Culture Out of Core Values

How would you describe your organization’s culture? Are you satisfied with it?  What would your team members say if you asked them the same questions? Defining and building a culture is hard. So hard that most people don’t even know where to start. But it’s as important as it is difficult!  Culture is the difference between doing Agile and BEING Agile. Last week we delivered our class, Becoming a True Agile CultureTMin Nashville, TN.  We had two full days of great conversations around the significance of organizational culture.  We talked about setting a cultural baseline (evaluating your organization’s current culture), and then using a 5-step Change Management Model in order to influence our cultures to be more intentionally Agile.  It was an amazing experience with a great group of students….

Continue reading
March 10, 2019 // 0 Comments

The A to V List: Aspire to keep Victims from Ruling your Organization

As a University of Michigan (U of M) alum, Ann Arbor MI was my home for 4 years. And without question one of the highlights of my college-years was dining at Ann Arbor’s Zingerman’s Deli. Back then, of course, regularly dining on their enormous fatty sandwiches did not pose a threat to my girly figure the way it would today.  [Ah the youthful bliss of metabolic ignorance]. This month marks 37 years since Ari Weinzweig co-founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a staff of two, a small selection of great-tasting specialty foods, and a radical vision to replicate a New-York style deli in a college town. Today, Zingerman’s is a $40 million brand that serves 500,000 visitors every year (including me!) at its iconic Delicatessen & Bake-House, in addition…

Continue reading
February 18, 2019 // 0 Comments

The Evil Genius Syndrome

photo of two inches of a measuring tape

The Evil Genius Syndrome:  Rewarding the WHATs…while the HOWs are killing us. -by President, Rikki Schwartz When I sat down to write this blog, I decided to ask myself a question that would lead to a confession: “What is the biggest leadership mistake I’ve ever made?”.  And the answer jumped right off the blank page:  “I had kept everyone on my team who’d contributed to financial success”. No.  That wasn’t a typo.  Rather, much like my decision to do so, it was a sadly intentional mistake. In my 25+ year career (prior to coming to the Center for Agile Leadership), I led multiple teams of Project Managers. And my (sadly chronic) mistake was keeping folks around who met/exceeded our company’s productivity metrics, but who left a trail of collegial destruction behind in the…

Continue reading
January 28, 2019 // 0 Comments

What is a Chief Heart Officer?

Maya Angelou said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Claude Silver lives by that salvo, and adds that “people will selflessly give you their hearts when you acknowledge, nurture, and inspire theirs in return”. So who is Claude Silver?  Claude Silver is the “Chief Heart Officer” of VaynerMedia (a $100 MM digital marketing agency). And what is a Chief Heart Officer?  Well to explain that, you have to cognize Claude’s mentor and the man who hired her, Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO and founder of VaynerMedia.  And to understand Gary Vaynerchuk, you don’t need look much further than one of his more characteristic quotes:“Three or four years ago, Steve Jobs’ narrative influenced many leaders in our…

Continue reading
January 7, 2019 // 0 Comments

Learning from a legend

Just as the calendar turned over this year, we lost a truly great leader…but not his legacy. Herb Kelleher, co-founder (later CEO and then chairman emeritus) of Southwest Airlines, died at the age of 87 on January 3, 2019, but the unconventional billionaire left behind a wealth of wisdom…and wild stories (or “Herb stories” as they are affectionately called).  The chain-smoking devotee of Wild Turkey with a booming laugh once shimmied in an Elvis Presley jumpsuit for the cover of Texas Monthly magazine.  Or there was the time he wore a bag over his head in a TV advert (after a rival airline suggested travelers should be embarrassed to fly no-frills Southwest), and promised to give the bag to any customer who was too embarrassed to be seen flying on his discount…

Continue reading
December 17, 2018 // 0 Comments

Resolutions From A True Agile Leader


What do the New Year’s Resolutions of a True Agile Leader look like? Hey there, Rikki Schwartz here with some thoughts for the end of the year. 2019 is only a couple of weeks away! What do the New Year’s Resolutions of a True Agile Leader look like? Take the time in early 2019 to learn something new about every team member. Express praise and gratitude to your team for their accomplishments in 2018. Closely inspect your organization’s mission and core values – adapt as necessary. Ask your team what the three biggest lessons they learned in 2018 were, and how they plan to apply those lessons in 2019. Find out if toxic emotions got in the way of team productivity in 2018 Explore whether your team has unmet needs…

Continue reading
December 1, 2018 // 10 Comments

Perpetually Preparing For Change

hand holding a glass ball with scenic background

Are you perpetually and transparently discussing and preparing for inevitable work changes? Hey there, Rikki Schwartz here… I was born and raised in and around Detroit, Michigan, where the auto industry (for better or for worse) has always been the area’s heart and soul.  Having lived in Flint, MI for nearly a decade in the 80s, I watched automotive plant closings tear at the fabric of the city, its neighborhoods and families.  To give you an idea of the dramatic shift that unfolded while I lived there — 50% of the (190,000) residents of Flint were employed by GM in the 1970s, whereas only 5,000 of Flint’s (110,000) residents currently work for the auto giant.  Likewise, as of 2015, 61 automotive plants had closed in Metro Detroit…and that was long before the recent…

Continue reading
August 24, 2018 // 0 Comments

Change Your Scenery

Is your team stuck in a rut? Maybe your normal processes have become a little stale. At The Center For Agile Leadership, we recently had a quarterly strategy session where our leadership team spent a weekend together on a boat in Key West, FL. The change of scenery really helped us unlock some new ideas and fresh perspectives.

Continue reading
May 31, 2018 // 0 Comments

Spring Clean Your Life

Spring has finally sprung after a crazy winter. It even snowed in May in Salt Lake City, UT this year! Now is the time to renew and re-invigorate your living environment. Why? A clean environment feels wholesome and healthy Removing clutter creates space and less stress in your life The physical act of cleaning is exercise, resulting in better mental cognition During the spring I go room-by-room in my home and complete a deep cleaning. Yes, it’s time-consuming and hard work, however I always feel amazing after its done. Here are some specific tactics that I employ: Remove most items from the room– this allows you to find hidden pockets of dust and dirt Question everything– if you are removing something that hasn’t been used all year then sell or…

Continue reading