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Each week, every kid in my daughter’s first grade class takes on a different “job.” The jobs include things like wiping down the tables, sweeping the floors, or ensuring the books are lined up to the edge of the shelves. But there is one job that my daughter considers the holy grail of all the tasks: being the “checker.” The checker does not have one assignment in particular. The checker’s role is to check off that everyone else has done their job properly so that the class can go to recess. A few weeks ago, it was my daughter’s turn…

Don’t Tell Me You Care — Show Me.

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The other day, a headline in my inbox threw me for a loop: “McKinsey to pay $573 million for role in opioid crisis.”

It wasn’t the headline itself that surprised me. The idea that the most prestigious management consulting firm in the world helped its client “turbocharge” sales of an addictive painkiller that claimed over 450,000 lives — that is not unbelievable, by any stretch.

What stood out to me was that on the same day, I had another McKinsey article in my inbox. Not an article about McKinsey, but rather, by McKinsey. And in this article, a group of…

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I don’t know about you, but I have never felt more ready for a fresh, new year! I am connecting with my family, colleagues, and community to savor this time of reflection and possibilities — to do the satisfying work of imagining who we are going to be this year.

And, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the fact that the challenging reality 2020 brought to our doorsteps will not magically be washed away as we ring in 2021.

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Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of Zappos and legendary Silicon Valley figure, died tragically on November 26 at just 46 years old.

Several news outlets in the last few days have reported on Tony’s reclusive descent into drugs, alcohol, and other dangerous behaviors since leaving Zappos. His death serves as an important reminder that even the most outwardly successful among us may be suffering in private.

In this post, though, I’d like to focus on Tony’s incredible work at the helm of Zappo’s. Because, in many ways, Tony Hsieh exemplified stakeholder leadership — though he probably never used the term.

Gratitude at work begins with a recognition

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The numerous physical and emotional benefits of gratitude are well-documented. In particular, researchers like Robert Emmons and Martin Seligman have demonstrated the link between gratitude and happiness.

That link makes intuitive sense. As the saying goes, “you are what you pay attention to.” If you’re focused on and grateful for the blessings in your life, you tend to see the world through a more optimistic lens. If you’re focused on the ways in which life isn’t good enough, you’ll easily convince yourself that it isn’t.

Over Thanksgiving, we’ll likely (and rightly) be focused on our gratitude for friends and family…

The Allure and The Danger of “More”

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As a business owner, one of the most important contracts that ever came my way was the one I didn’t end up signing.

On paper, it was a no-brainer. The prospective client was a powerhouse in the beauty care space. It was a lucrative contract with ample room to expand into an even larger engagement. This would be a gem in my client roster and a boon to my bottom line. More work. More revenue. More reach. It would be silly not to move forward with haste.

But I didn’t. I took a beat and gave myself a few days…

Implementing Stakeholder Capitalism

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Recently, in the midst of hashing out a particular nuance regarding ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance metrics), my colleague turned to me and said, “We’ve been talking about this stakeholder capitalism thing for a while now. I’ve known about ESG funds for months. But I just realized…I’ve never even taken a look at my own retirement portfolio.”

Somehow our whole exploration of stakeholder capitalism had occurred for him as “out there,” an intellectual, even theoretical exercise about the nature of the economy. It did not occur for him as actionable. …

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Stakeholders are demanding that their voices be heard like never before in history. And, they have the tools — and increasingly the leverage — to do so.

Strikes. Protests. Lawsuits. Social media campaigns. Unrest on the part of any stakeholder group can very quickly snowball from a Glassdoor review into a costly mess for any business. In just the past two weeks, news headlines included Kroger, Tesla, and Amazon because of employee protests. It seems like every week a new high-profile company is being placed into the unflattering spotlight — often by their own employees! …

The best ideas in the world are irrelevant if we cannot communicate the shared value to our primary stakeholders.

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I once worked with a chief operations officer — we’ll call him Nicolas — who was asked by his CEO to present an update to the board. Nicolas prepared beautiful charts and airtight talking points to walk the directors of this private equity owned company through its day-to-day operations.

But, it didn’t go to plan. After the meeting, the CEO reported back to Nicolas that the directors were dissatisfied with his presentation. They did not feel confident in the operations management of the company and left the meeting with more questions than answers.

Nicolas was dismayed, but more than that…

Ignorance is not bliss — what happens when we ignore “externalities”

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Your shirt is drenched. Beads of sweat trickle down your face. You just took your pet labradoodle for a walk around the block. But with the late summer heat climbing into the 90s, you may as well have gone for a stroll on the sun.

The moment you cross the threshold of your home, though, you’re transported to a blizzardy, blissful oasis. As your body temperature falls, you count your lucky stars for the advent of modern air conditioning.

In a few weeks you receive your electricity bill in…

Kari Granger

Kari is CEO of an executive leadership firm, supporting leaders to align and elevate performance. See more at www.grangernetwork.com

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