Monday, June 10, 2024

SPRING LEADERSHIP SERIES – Featuring Susan Gardner

Last fall, I featured an inspiring series here on my blog called, "Fall Back to Reading Series." Nearly 30 leadership, marketing, and customer experience experts participated and shared their favorite books and their thoughts about the importance of reading.

Joseph Lalonde, one participant, wrote a book entitled, REEL LEADERSHIP, which focuses on nontraditional ways to think about leadership. After I read the book, the seeds for this "Spring Leadership Series" were planted. Today, I'd like to introduce Susan Gardner, and following a brief introduction, Susan shares some nontraditional ways to think about leadership!

Susan Gardner's background is centered in recruiting and human resources in both public and private companies. As her career evolved, she contributed to startups and turnarounds that were undergoing transformative change in both tech and non-tech fields, such as, healthcare, e-commerce, fashion, and telecommunications. She's worked as a board member, marketing specialist, change manager, and indie film producer. Her interest is positive transformative growth and change - people and positivity centered cultures drive this!

QUESTION: Which TV show or TV series showcases leadership in a memorable way?
SUSAN GARDNER: I've chosen STAR TREK and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION as examples of leadership at different stages in an organization. These TV shows showcase two captains of the Federation Starship USS Enterprise, Captain James T. Kirk and Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Both explored space while encountering many and varied cultures and peoples.

Kirk was the early captain and, as such, focused on considered action and allowing his officers and staff to contribute and do the job at hand getting optimum results. He partnered with them as a daily, active, on-site participant traveling to planets as an "away team" member.

As the Federation matured, Captain Picard took on a diplomatic posture and supportive partnership stance for the officers and staff under his command. Fewer new cultures were encountered, and relationship development became - and continued to be - paramount to success.

If you have an opportunity, catch Captain Picard's encounter with the Borg! Fabulous episode! (Editorial Note: The Borg were first encountered in The Next Generation's second season, episode 16, entitled, "Q Who?," and presented as so unstoppable that Picard had to swallow his pride and beg Q for help to escape them. The episode ended with the Borg presumably on their way to Federation space and time running out on finding a way to stop them.)

QUESTION: Which film showcases leadership in a memorable way?
SUSAN GARDNER: Two films come to mind.

First, ERIN BROCKOVICH, a true story turned into a film starring Julia Roberts in the title role. Erin has three children, and because of a car accident, contacts lawyer Ed Masry to plead her case. She becomes a paralegal for him at her urging as they pursue - with dogged determination - a class action suit against Pacific Gas & Electric for ground water contamination in Hinckley, California. Her attention to detail, creative problem solving skills, people skills, and grit won a $333 Million judgment for the 634 plaintiffs. In leadership and life, it’s always "keep moving forward." Erin is currently continuing her stellar career in environmental activism. The film received five Oscar nominations.

The second film is MICHAEL CLAYTON that featured actor George Clooney as Michael Clayton. Michael is a "fix-it" lawyer for a prestigious New York City firm handling a class action suit for their client, U-North, accused of selling a carcinogenic weed killer. Michael Clayton masterfully exposes the firm's client as totally aware of the danger of this weed killer. In the process, he grows spiritually, emotionally, and financially, and embraces the concept of "doing the right thing" is essential in business and life. It's a key leadership tenet. The film received seven Oscar nominations.

SHARE THIS: The concept of "doing the right thing" is essential in business and life. It's a key leadership tenet. ~@SEGStaffing #SpringLeadershipSeries #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Which work of fiction showcases leadership in a memorable way?
SUSAN GARDNER: I've chosen Ian Fleming's Bond books about JAMES BOND. Each describes a Bond adventure pitting James Bond, fictional MI6 agent 007 against a masterful and evil wrongdoer. Fleming drew on his WWII Naval Intelligence Division service, which added depth and authenticity to his novels. And the film success of his novels is undeniable! Bond leads himself and others with character, creativity, and humor. His tech gadgets are legendary. It's good versus evil at its very best. One of my favorites is GOLDFINGER, which established James Bond as a brand that's definitely here to stay!

QUESTION: Which product, or product line, stands out as a symbol of leadership?
SUSAN GARDNER: I have to choose STARBUCKS, a favorite of mine for many years. Starbucks has led the coffee revolution, establishing their brand as a favorite to meet friends and colleagues for a quick meeting or in-depth discussion while drinking their favorite coffee beverage. Many use their friendly and open stores to work on personal and business projects. And Starbucks has expanded the brand masterfully into food and veggie plates. They pursue excellence with passionate dedication!

QUESTION: Lastly, since I’m a marketing professional, I would be remiss not to ask this question. Which brand do you consider the best embodiment of an industry leader, and why?
SUSAN GARDNER: I have to choose APPLE, my computer and phone choice. To me, the products are easy to use. And the philosophy, dedication, and Apple creative problem-solving strategies ring throughout. You can always reach out to Apple with questions or info. Steve Jobs shines through to this day! He espoused, "It's not about technology, it's about people!" Thank you, Steve!

Did these questions open your eyes to thinking about leadership in nontraditional ways? That was the hope. My gratitude to Susan for appearing on my blog, and for sharing her leadership insights.

Image Credits: Debbie Laskey, iStockphoto, Amazon, and Classroom Clipart.

Connect with Susan at these links:

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