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Cleveland, Ohio


Echo System Partners works with organizations to co-create workplaces that inspire high levels of employee engagement tapping into individual greatness for organizational good.

Organizations that work with Echo discover exactly how their people are the secret to their success and they build action plans to secure this competitive advantage.

Echo’s approach is collaborative. With thorough understanding of an organization's goals and success drivers, we tailor customized engagements that will yield measurable results.  We blend a wealth of experiences, research, and knowledge to create actions that will bring your strategic vision to life.

Echo's Blog

A blog that provides snapshots of key ideas that inspire organization growth. 

One idea: Focus on a basic concept. (Explore complex concepts in white papers.)

Short but Useful: Practical insights and ideas that can be quickly implemented.

Engaging: Quick and entertaining.

Thought Provoking: Generate resourceful thought.

Inspire: What works in organizations. 

Filtering by Tag: leadership

Lead Like A Woman: 3 Calls to Action

Regina Loiko

What does it mean to lead like a woman?  Does it mean being a …a caregiver…pushy…soft… hard…smart…naïve…haggard…sexy?

I was reluctant to read Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. I perceived the book to be about how women need to lead more like men. This idea makes my skin crawl but I knew I needed to read the book to form a valid opinion. With encouragement from a few others I finally picked it up and am finding the mix of research and personal stories thought provoking. In particular the stories and data tell a compelling tale of the challenges presented to women leaders, pointing to why many women opt out of leadership.

Lean In is strengthening my stance that women should not lead like men, women should lead like women.

Employee engagement rates are beginning to tick up, ever so slightly. But the fact remains that nearly 70% of America’s workforce is not fully contributing to the success of their organization. All leaders need to keep looking beyond the command and control leadership paradigm and choose leadership styles that inspire and engage employees.

Leadership is personal. Men and women will approach it differently, how can we capitalize on the differences? Here are three calls to action to fuel leadership change and advance understanding of what it means to lead like a woman.

1.      Embrace the fact that gender does not dictate who will be a better leader. Blur the line between the genders.

2.      Encourage women to explore leadership roles and to find an effective personal leadership style.

3.      Challenge the biases that influence perceptions about women leaders. (In addition to the studies cited in Lean In the film Miss Representation demonstrates bias relevance.)

More insight on leading like a woman will support these calls to action.  What does it mean to you to lead like a woman?

For me, leading like a women means to seek first to understand then to be understood. This is Stephen Covey’s fifth habit in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I value others’ ideas and input. I am curious about how people think, what they are passionate about, and what they find discouraging. My curious nature makes it easy for me to lead by seeking to understand others but I do not find it easy to ask to be understood. When I do not feel understood I sometimes shutdown, stay quiet, and keep my ideas to myself. Or I do the opposite and try to aggressively push my ideas forward. Neither response embodies the leader I wish to be. When feeling misunderstood it is most effective to simply ask to be understood. A lesson I learned during a client engagement several years ago.

I was working on a change initiative with a group of organization stakeholders. The group was a fair representation of the organization, about 80% men and 20% women. During one session with the group I introduced a new concept and was planning to support it with background information and time for experimentation. Such progress was halted with an ambush of questions.  The majority of the group had no interest in understanding what felt foreign to them. Their response was to destroy the alien idea.  This persisted for forty minutes, until I made a bold move, I asked to be understood.

I stopped addressing the questions. I paused. When the group quieted I said, “I am feeling attacked and need to take a break. Please watch this short video while I step out for a moment.” Then I put on Derek Sivers fabulous three minute TED Talk, How to Start a Movement. All the while I was thinking this move is professional suicide. I have lost this group. We will not be able to continue. They no longer respect or trust me. Three minutes later I returned, still a bit shaken. I found the group willing to move forward. They embraced the concept, put it into practice, and achieved new levels of success. 

I was wrong about what would happen after I asked to be understood. Respect and trust was not lost, in fact some of the people in that group are my strongest advocates.  I no longer let forty minutes of positioning halt progress, once I understand I also ask to be understood.

What does it mean to lead like a woman? Several Lean In reviewers criticize that the book does not portray an accurate or complete story. Criticism without solutions is worthless. Lean In has people talking let’s flesh out more of the story. Please use the comments area to share your ideas and experiences related to effective leadership.

A Leadership Tip from Medellin, Colombia

Regina Loiko

Treat people like they are poor and they will be poor…poor in spirit, poor in performance, and poor in contributions.

Treat people like they are rich and they will be rich…rich in attitude, rich in ability, and rich in contributions.

The city of Medellin, Colombia is a living example of this leadership principle. In the 80’s and 90’s Colombia was a war zone where every day brought bombings, murder, and kidnapping. Today crime is low. Kidnapping is down 90%. In Medellin, once called the murder capital of the world, homicide is down 80%. In 2012 Time Magazine named Medellin, City of the Year.

Much of this change can be attributed to the vision of Sergio Fajadro. From 2003 to 2007 he served as Mayor of Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city. Sergio believed that the poorest areas of the city are where the grandest buildings should stand. The CBS Sunday Morning Show showcased the investments made to beautify these areas and to treat all of the city’s inhabitants as rich and valuable. The city has been rewarded with zero violence in the beautified public areas and Colombia is experiencing a surge in tourism, expecting four million tourists this year.

The leadership tip in Sergio’s vision: treat all people as rich and they will prove their value.

A rich person is valued for the contributions they are able to make. Here are the steps to help the people you lead to be rich contributors to your organization.

1.       Discover each person's richness by exploring their strengths and abilities. Talk with them about how they contribute value and can help the organization reach it goals.

2.       Set expectations that tap individual strengths and abilities in ways that are both challenging and achievable.

3.       Hold them accountable to those expectations by redirecting when necessary and congratulating when successful.

Using these steps will help the people you lead to know their value and be rich contributors to the success of your organization. Maintaining a focus on what makes people rich will create limitless value for you, your organization, and the people you lead.


Background on Sergio Fajardo and Medellin, Colombia was found on a September 2014 edition of the CBS Sunday Morning Show, an October 2010 article and a July 2007 New York Times article.