• tjohnson00

developing leaders + managers (lessons learned + moving forward)

I took leadership and management training for granted. When I entered college, I knew I would be a platoon leader when I graduated. Fast forward, I graduated from West Point in 2011. After completing my Infantry Officer Basic Leader Course and US Army Ranger School, I became a platoon leader and took 30 Soldiers to Afghanistan. Once we were there, I often was responsible for an additional 20-50 Afghan Soldiers. From an early age, I was given extensive support and training on strategy, decision-making, leadership, and all sorts of tangential skills. Again, I took that for granted.



Leading and managing is difficult, there’s no formula, but there are frameworks. Typically, if you’re good at your day job, you get moved into a management position. Unfortunately, being a subject matter expert doesn’t mean you will be a good leader or manager. Not all salespeople are good sales managers. Similarly, not all great clinicians will be great clinical managers/supervisors. You need training and ongoing support to be a good leader and manager. As our organization grows, we will focus on equipping folks with the necessary skills and training to manage others.


Thinking back to some of the pains we experienced due to the rapid growth of the Advaita ecosystem, I realized we were asking folks to lead and manage that have had no formal training. This is going to change. I wish we could start an internal “leadership academy” overnight, but it will take some time. Below are some of the ideas, frameworks, and skills that we will use to start building a leadership and management course.

Conscious leaders embrace co-creation, honor the human experience, foster collaboration, and emphasize the importance of introspection.

Conscious leadership is an approach to leading that values the human experience as essential to driving positive results. This stands in stark contrast to the command-and-control style leadership I experienced in the Army. It doesn’t encourage the deification of larger-than-life figures that our capitalist, consumer-driven economy often does. Conscious leaders embrace co-creation, honor the human experience, foster collaboration, and emphasize the importance of introspection.

Self-Leadership/Management is of the utmost importance. To be a leader, you’ve got to inspire followership. It’s about modeling the behavior you want others to embrace. Would you want to follow someone into combat because they’re good at Call of Duty? Being a good leader means first understanding how to lead your life. I break things down into a few categories: physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual. Self-leadership is about walking the walk. The best leaders don’t say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Values-Based, Mission-Driven: Our mission is to empower individuals to live with profound purpose. That’s what we’re here to do for our clients/patients and our team members. Our mission is our North Star. How do we stay on track when it’s a cloudy night? We focus on our values, our compass for navigating decisions and determining our behaviors. “Core values and beliefs form a system of fundamental motivating principles and tenets--precepts about what is important in both business and life, how business should be conducted, its view of humanity, its role in society, the way the world works, what is to be held inviolate, and so on.” Jim Collins –Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0.

Deliberately Developmental Organization (DDO): A DDO systematically works to drive individual human flourishing and organizational growth as part of one interdependent and mutually reinforcing set of goals. When the individual learns and grows and flourishes, so does the organization. In a DDO, work is viewed as a practice, not a performance. It’s a laboratory for human growth and development. DDO’s don’t just focus on developing skills (external) but also mindsets (internal).

  • An Everyone Culture: Becoming A Deliberately Developmental Organization – this book introduced the DDO concept to me. I love it. Finding a framework for something you had been stumbling in the dark to articulate is great.

  • Personal-Professional Development Plan – I hope everyone has completed one by the start of 2023 (hint, hint to all supervisors/managers). Our PPD template is attached.

Operating System: This is how we bring everything together. Every organization has an operating system. It’s how you go from thought to action, set goals, measure performance, and solve problems. In many organizations, the operating system is unconscious and reactive. Our operating system is based on the concepts in Traction by Gino Wickman. This book outlines six components of an operating system: vision (where are you going), data (how are you measure progress), people (how do you recruit, train, evaluate, and develop the team), issues (how do you systematically uncover and solve issues), process (what your core processes look like), and traction (how you use daily, weekly, quarterly, and annual meetings to stay on track).

Here are some of the specific skills and topics I want to include in our leadership and management training program:

  • How to run effective meetings

  • How to have difficult conversations and provide constructive feedback

  • Time management for leaders

  • Prioritization techniques (e.g., Eisenhower matrix)

  • Developing your board of advisors

  • Giving back – mentoring the next generation of leaders

  • Conducting interviews for competence and values

I’m pretty excited to help develop resources for our team. Leading and managing is both an art and a science. Any time you’re dealing with people, it’s a full-contact sport. Check out the resources listed above and if you want a crash course that covers most of the above topics/information, I highly recommend The Managers Handbook (the best free resource I’ve ever seen).


Random thoughts + observations

From the Farnam Street Newsletter

  • “Short-term easy is long-term hard. Short-term hard is long-term easy.” – Shane Parrish

  • “Easy decisions, hard life. Hard decisions, easy life.” – Jerzy Gregorek

Below are a few quick survey stats on telehealth. If you want to read more, follow this link.

  • 91% of respondents said they’re more likely to choose a provider who offers virtual visits

  • About half of respondents said they are worried that the quality of care is lower when delivered virtually

  • 49% of respondents said they preferred virtual visits for mental health

  • The above stats come from Healthcare Brew (from Morning Brew), which are fun, informative email newsletters.

After reading Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor, I’ve added breathing practices back into my daily routine. I’d like for us to find a local breathwork expert and explore adding breathwork to our mindfulness repertoire. Below are a few different practices I’m exploring.

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