Remembering a Master of Leadership

Joel DeLuca, the noted author and lecturer on leadership and organizational behavior, passed away a couple of weeks ago, at 60. I am grateful for the chance to offer a few observations about the impact that he had on the world, and on me.

I had the great fortune of meeting Joel, in the early ’90s, when he
came to Wharton to help me build the Wharton Leadership Program, of
which I was the founding director. It was immediately apparent, from
our first conversation and ever-increasingly thereafter, that Joel’s
genius as a master designer of remarkably high-value, long-lasting
learning experiences was a rare, precious gift.

As much as I learned from his highly refined wisdom as a practical
theorist and educator, I gained even more knowledge from seeing how
Joel actually lived in concert with his ideas for how to create
meaningful change. His masterwork is a book called Political Savvy: Leadership Behind the Scenes.

I’ve
been lucky to have worked alongside many great leaders and teachers,
but no one compares to Joel in his authentic grasp of what it actually
takes to get things done in organizations. He truly walked his talk;
practiced what he preached. As a role model in the realpolitik of our
daily lives in the trenches, I came to understand his principles,
clearly and memorably.

He consistently and generously gave credit to others, rather than
take it for himself. Whenever he offered an idea for improving how
things got done, he was explicit about his intention–to enhance our
capacity to meet our collective (and not his personal) interests. His
constant search was for the best ways to find common ground so that
innovations would be supported by a critical mass, and thus be
sustainable. I could go on, but instead let me suggest that you read his book.

In the late ’90s, I was asked to join Ford Motor and direct its
leadership development center. Joel was my strategic advisor there,
too, and my education continued under his patient tutelage, as the
impact of his great ideas now spread to thousands of developing leaders
of this iconic company.

His clarity, persistence, and bold
vision were an inspiration to me and many others in the company. When
my boss asked him what his purpose was, Joel said, without blinking,
"To change the world." Yes! He emboldened us to make a difference, to
use our talents fully for the greater good.

I returned to Wharton a few years later. Two months ago, I published a book that took shape originally at Ford. It describes a program we created there, called Total Leadership. Here’s part of what I wrote about Joel in the book’s acknowledgements:

But the mentor who did the most to coax the Total Leadership program
out of me was Joel DeLuca. I am awed by his brilliance as an architect
of social change and leadership development, and am very fortunate to
have benefited from his true friendship and intellectual guidance.

It saddens me beyond words that Joel isn’t here to share the sense of
accomplishment and to know of the tangible results that this work is
having on a broad community of people interested in discovering how to
become better leaders and have richer lives. For among the many things
I learned from Joel–things I think about and use every single day–is
the value of taking time to mark significant events, and so to grow
from them and to make one’s life more meaningful.

What Makes You Come Alive?

Is there a ninja in your pants? Cause your ass is kickin’!" -Super Cheeseball

In 9th grade, I decided to start lifting weights. The idea being that if I could cultivate some biceps, maybe it would balance out the zits on my face and enhance my appeal to the opposite sex. So I joined the Nautilus Plus gym in the Town & Country mall in Encino, California. Not bothering to get a trainer, I’d show up and do curls with the barbells. That’s all I’d do. Just curls. Oh yeah, I’d also stare at the most gorgeous girl I’d ever seen, Andrea Sarrity, a lovely blond in 10th grade at Birmingham High School in Tarzana.

Developing Your Own Healthy Relationship Meter

Relationships are funny little creatures and in taking stock of some of my own I have discovered something; in order to have healthy relationships (friendship, romantic, business) the following things should be present (for me); they make up my healthy relationship meter:

1) The ability and space to be who you are. If you have to be someone you’re not, that creates room for games, feelings of disconnect with one’s own self (the "Who Am I Being? Syndrome"), hurt, embarrassment, and possibly the loss of integrity.

Some signs to look out for: Saying and doing things that you would not normally say and do, a feeling of uneasiness, always questioning yourself in the relationship.

How genuine is the relationship going to be out of the gate if either person is showing up as someone they’re not?

2) Room to grow and the support to do so; no shackles or tethers. As we go through life we learn and as a result we grow. Growth is a good thing!

Some signs to look out for: Criticism and put-downs from the other person, especially during times of growth and positive change. Increased signs of insecurity from your partner and the need for continual reassurance that they are OK in your eyes.

3) No emotional games allowed. There is never a winner in an emotional game.

Some signs to look out for: Emotional blackmail ("If you loved me you would…"), a constant push and pull (pushing you away and then pulling you in when a distance has been created).

4) Equal balance of give and take. When there is an imbalance one person always walks away feeling depleted, used, or unimportant.

Some signs to look out for: Your partner, friend, or colleague spends most of their time focusing on themselves in almost every conversation (self obsessed or self absorbed behavior); one person is putting in most of the effort to make the relationship work. Having to constantly hold your partner/friend/colleague upright emotionally. Feeling completely drained after a conversation.

5) Direct and open communication. No person is a mind-reader so it is important to be able to constructively communicate wants, dislikes, expectations, etc.

Some signs to look out for: An applied assumption that you should always know what your partner/friend/colleague wants, increased

Know All About Your Sign

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