The Leadership Dance

By Brian Layer
Chief Executive Officer, N2Growth

Not everyone will respond to your leadership.  No matter how good you are, there will be skeptics.  Leadership is a human endeavor and humans have choices.  Still, it’s your duty to find a way to lead them.

No matter how big your organization, your message, direction, and motivations flow through a handful of people and leadership is like dancing; it is accomplished one partner at a time. I’m not talking about square dancing, line dancing or break dancing but the kind where you drum up your courage, look someone in the eye and ask: “Will you dance with me?”

Great dancing requires a mix of physical, mental, emotional and social skill.  Great dancers know they aren’t just spinning around the floor; they are inviting another on a journey for a song or two.  It is a negotiation of trust.

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David O. Russell: The Confidence Game

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2growth

Confidence is a cloth with many colors.

That thought came to me as I was listening to David O. Russell speaking to Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air as he was discussing his award-winning trilogy of films – The Fighter, Sliver Linings and the latest, American Hustle. Each film is about characters reinventing themselves because they are not satisfied with themselves. The degrees of self-invention range from a fighter trying to overcome his past, a bipolar man seeking normalcy and a hustler seeking a better outcome.

As a writer and filmmaker Russell himself says he has struggled with re-invention. He once wrote scripts for hire now he seeks to tell stories that he himself connects with and can portray on the screen. That takes confidence. Especially when things fall apart. He says you need to trust yourself.


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Leaders who fail to be accountable “to” their people will eventually be held accountable “by” the people.

~ Mike Myatt

Shirley Temple Black: A Life Lesson In Optimism

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2growth

“I don’t like to do negatives. There are always pluses to things.”

That quote is attributed to Shirley Temple Black and is cited the The Economist’s obituary of the former child star. Indeed as Shirley Temple she was the most bankable star in the Hollywood firmament being its highest grossing performer in the mid-Thirties.

The secret to her success was her cheerful optimism backed by her relentless work ethic and winning personality. Cute of course but Shirley Temple was a triple-threat performer who could dance, sing and act. She was a favorite of the high and mighty who loved to have her in their company and even making room for her on their laps. During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt noted her “infectious optimism,” adding that “as long as our country has Shirley Temple we will be alright.”


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Lessons from a Grand Jury

By Patricia Lenkov
Chair, Executive Search, N2growth

I spent the month of January performing my civic duty on a Grand Jury in Manhattan. Images of “Law and Order” stars on the steps of the Lower Manhattan courthouse were quickly replaced by the bleak reality of what felt like eternal days listening to the misconduct of my fellow New Yorkers.  Nevertheless, the experience turned out to be enlightening in many ways.

At the end of each case that was presented with facts, figures, commentary and an occasional video, we Grand Jurors were left to deliberate on whether indictments would ensue. This process felt oddly familiar. Here was a group of people coming together to make impactful decisions that would affect others in significant ways. I soon realized that there were numerous lessons that could be taken from this very controlled experience and applied directly to the still slightly less sanctioned boardroom.

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Are you linking your Leadership with your legacy?

~ Damian “Skipper” Pitts

Why Your CEO Just Doesn’t Get It

By Mike Myatt
Chairman, N2growth

* This column was originally published on

Quality leadership or a lack thereof is easy to spot if you know what to look for. The problem is most people don’t know what to look for in a leader, and according to a recent study by Chief Executive magazine many CEOs don’t seem to know what to look for either.

While I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, I will admit to being absolutely stunned as I reviewed the results of a survey published in the January/February 2014 edition of Chief Executive in which respondents (sitting CEOs) ranked the top 10 skills needed for effective leadership.  Following are the results in descending order of importance:

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Jay Leno: How To Say Goodbye

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

All of us want to be wanted by others, and when we are in a leadership position sometimes that feeling of being wanted morphs into a cloying sense of clinging, hanging on just to hang on. We are unwilling to let go even when common sense would tell us that the people we have groomed to lead are fully ready.


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Reinventing Vermeer

By Brian Layer
Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

Tim’s Vermeer is a riveting documentary about inventor Tim Jenison’s quest to understand the genius of Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.  The film chronicles Jenison’s discovery of a technique Vermeer may have used to create his photo-realistic paintings prior to the invention of photography.

History offers few clues to Vermeer’s life.  Most art experts have cited a genius of vision—the ability to see and paint reflected light in a singular way.  Jenison offers a different view; Vermeer’s genius may have been in his technique rather than in his eye.  He shows how turning a mirror to 45 degrees, any artist can perfectly match the hues on his canvas to the color of his object.  Matching the brush strokes is a bridge too far but Jenison replicates the reflected light that made Vermeer unique.

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