It’s that time of year in the Junior League calendar.  When current leadership teams are winding down and new teams are gearing up.  It’s that time when at AJLI we are completing one year of work and preparing the next. It’s a time that I reflect on my own abilities and shortcomings and consider what I can do better and differently in the future.

If you look on, you will find nearly 100,000 books on leadership.  There are leadership secrets, models, axioms and rules.  There are leadership lessons to be learned from Abraham Lincoln, Mickey Mouse and Attila the Hun.  There’s fierce leadership, quiet leadership, courageous leadership, quirky leadership and more.

From an early age I wanted to “lead.”  I wanted to “be the boss.”  I don’t think about that anymore. But I do think about “how” I lead and “how” to create a unique and great organization.  I’ve been thinking about things like leading from a place of positive energy and creating a team that works in harmony while capitalizing on the differences of each team member. I like “flat” organizations with lots of people engaged and speaking their minds.  These are ideas that are fundamental to me.

With nearly 100,000 leadership books in print, there are nuggets of my personal philosophy in abundance. But the book I find most interesting now is “Centered Leadership,” by Joanna Barsch.  Last night I was fortunate to speak with her briefly at a reception at McKinsey offices in New York, and to hear from some of the leaders profiled in her book.

“Centered Leadership” begins with four preconditions: Intelligence, Tolerance for Change; Desire to Lead and Communication Skills.  It’s a model based on five, interrelated dimensions:

Meaning: finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of an inspiring purpose

Framing: adopting a more constructive and positive way to view your world and gain resilience even when bad things happen

Connecting: identifying who can help you grow, building stronger relationships, increasing your sense of belonging

Engaging: finding your voice, becoming self-reliant and confident by accepting opportunities and the inherent risks they bring and by collaborating with others


Energizing: knowing where your energy comes from, what saps it and what you can do to manage it

“Centered Leadership” is about each of us as leaders, and particularly as women leaders.  It’s Joanna’s second book. Her first was, “How Remarkable Women Lead.”

Leadership comes with positional power, but that’s simply not enough in an organization with a Mission as important as ours.  I used to say that “leadership is not about me” but I think it really is…it really is about each of us in leadership roles.  And so, as this time of transition comes nearer, I am committed to being a more centered leader myself and am continuing to identify and refine my own style.