Evelyn Nelson’s Lessons in Leadership

I was inspired to write this post after reading Frank Granara’s “Beyond The Executive Comfort Zone”.  It is the first hand account of how GIC’s executive leaders, in charge of differing business units, developed a set of common principles that ultimately allowed them to break new ground in very non-traditional ways with lightning speed.

Virtually anyone looking to excel in their career, company or leadership roles can flourish by adopting these strategies. Think of it as a recipe for corporate wellness.

As you read the book challenge yourself.  How can you dare to be different?  Push yourself to reimagine what’s possible.

Are you brave enough to take the first step?

First steps

Deciding to take the first step in changing company culture is the biggest hurdle you’ll face.

I’ve always believed that leadership is service.  In my role with non-profit organizations, it’s been my goal to help create a culture that places a high value on learning. Too often in both for-profit and non-profit organizations, time is spent simultaneously building a bridge while attempting to walk over it.

Frank knew he needed organizational change and he was willing to prepare for it by investing in the development of his leadership team.  In order to prepare for organizational change, like Frank,  companies must be willing to create space to understand how things are in the present before moving into the future.

As an example, take data collection. Many companies approach data collection in a compliant way such as “let’s get those reports done so we can check off the box“.  That scenario produces numbers and makes people accountable to reports, but does nothing for having your leaders understand what the numbers mean.  Challenge your leaders to start analyzing current data, projecting its impact on the future,  and you will have much more meaningful information to help you make much better decisions.   

As I read “Beyond the Executive Comfort Zone”, I changed my question from, “What changes does my company need to make to move from being internally focused?” to “ What data points do we need to collect to tell the best story of our organization, one that emphasizes continuous improvement?”

If I want to inspire, motivate and support both my teammates and our external stakeholders isn’t demonstrated ROI the clearest path to success?

Here’s a few of my take-a ways and how I’ve implemented them within my own company.


Curiosity in work

Encouraging your team to ask questions and explore their curiosity creates a stronger workplace.

Management needs to  lead by example and encourage people to ask questions, think outside the box, and respectfully push each other’s thinking in a constructive yet  challenging way.


Ask Board members, senior management and staff members to block time in order to step back, take stock and reflect, before moving forward.

Tolerance of failure and vulnerability

Acknowledge  problems in a safe setting. Use what some might see as failures and turn them into opportunities for learning and growth.  In this way your people will take calculated risks and your company won’t stagnate.

Use of feedback

Learn the art of effective communication. There is a saying, “Knowledge is power”.  Use  knowledge to your advantage. Make sure feedback is timely, specific, and most importantly a two-way street. Practice how to give it effectively and model how to receive it constructively.

When you change your mindset about what it takes to prepare for change and understand the importance to developing your employees and leaders to face it, that’s where you see the real magic begin.

“Beyond the Executive Comfort Zone” challenged me to look at traditional measurement and reporting and inspired me to create space for dialogue in order to move from internally focused marketing towards an organizational culture that values learning.  Thank you Frank.

Evelyn Nelson is the Vice President of Development for South Shore Habitat for Humanity and CEO of 3G Consulting. She is an expert in strategic fundraising and relationship management with an emphasis on leadership experience in Health and Human Services and the Technology Sector.

Next post: “The Importance of Positivity”.  Until then, check out our website http://www.executivecomfortzone.com for more articles like Evelyn’s and information on how to purchase this book.
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