Ignite! Shifting the Face of Inclusion with General Martin Dempsey

General Martin E. Dempsey’s official government photo.

NOTE: At the bottom of this blog, please see links to my previous blogs about past Ignite sessions.

For the past few years, the Levin Jewish Community Center in Durham, North Carolina has offered a unique innovative series called the “Ignite Talks,” a networking and educational forum offered to members of our local community. Through talks and interviews with business and community leaders, (often very high power, nationally-recognized leaders), the series provides a unique venue to promote social responsibility, community building and continuing education.

Another outstanding session on November 19, 2018 featured General Martin Dempsey, who served as the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Barack Obama.

Mr. Dempsey’s Topic – Radical Inclusion. I was totally intrigued with the combination of this particular topic and speaker given the US Armed Services oft-reputation of struggling with some issues around diversity. And I was fortunate enough to win one of his books, “Radical Inclusion – What the Post 9/11 World Should Have Taught Us About Leadership.” I look forward to reading it and writing a blog about it in 2019.

I was so pleased to be one of the winners of General Martin Dempsey’s book.

Some of the main points of Mr. Dempsey’s discussion at the Ignite Session include:
• Everyone is some kind of leader somewhere in the lives, and everyone shares the same impediments to leadership.
• Inclusion is a key theme in leadership as the world continues to change rapidly.
• Leaders are under much more scrutiny these days.

Three key reasons why inclusion is so important for leadership:
• We need to seek knowledge from a wide circle of diverse expertise to lead in a complex world.
• We need partners!
• Joint inclusion solutions are more affordable. It is often more expensive to “go it alone.”

Additional points made included:
• You need to be confident enough in your leadership to delegate and give up control.
• It is very important to be open to continually learning. Example: President Obama would frequently ask his staff to “surprise him” by providing some new input that he didn’t already know.
• Leaders know how to imagine and energize people intelligently and innovatively.
• Leading through influence instead of exerting authority may take longer, but will result in stronger buy-in.

I thank Ignite and General Dempsey for all these wise insights, and I look forward to more of these Ignite Sessions in the future.

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My earlier blogs about past Ignite sessions:

From October, 2017, “The Art of Money” with David Rubenstein, one of the wealthiest people in the world.

From December, 2014, “Three Women Igniting Social Change in Second Careers.”

From December, 2013, a blog about two very different community and business leaders who spoke at two different Ignite Sessions, “Local Leaders as Social Innovators.”

Leadership Insights from IBM’s North Carolina Senior State Executive, Tim Humphrey

Timothy Humphrey, IBM Vice President, Chief Data Officer and NC Senior State Executive

Note: See links to my past leadership lesson blogs from the Raleigh Chamber C-Suites series as well as the Triangle Business Journal’s Power Breakfast gatherings at the bottom of this post.

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce holds its “C-Suite Perspectives” breakfast meeting several times per year and features area senior level executives sharing their leadership stories and insights. The November session with IBM Vice President, Chief Data Officer and NC Senior State Executive Timothy Humphrey provided another excellent session with several important leadership lessons.

After sharing his own unique career journey from NC State University to IBM to Lenovo and then back to IBM (sprinkled with a sense of humor – Tim labeled himself “a goofy engineer who cares about people”), Tim shared 10 main points organized within 4 topics. Here they are.

Topic A – The Foundation

1) Be Authentic. That is the foundation for all leadership, and Tim found that trying to be someone he wasn’t simply does not work.

Topic B – Personal Leadership

2) Build Diverse Teams. Diversity does drive innovation.

3) Engage Employees. It is important for leaders to set an example and create a culture that engages employees which drives positive business results. And build a culture where employees feel free to ask questions, get coaching and take chances.

4) Give Back. It is important for leaders to give back to the community. For example, Tim serves on the Wake County Boys & Girls Clubs Board of Directors and on the University of North Carolina’s World View Advisory Board.

Topic C – Personal Growth

5) Have a high performance mindset …. Even when no one is watching.

6) Have a vision and a long-term perspective.

7) Go beyond just networking and build relationships. Great leaders have a ton of strong relationships.

Topic D – Business Leadership

8) Focus on measurement and outcomes.

9) Visualize success and adjust your plan along the path as you need to.

10) Make data-driven decisions. It is important to remove bias, including seeking others’ opinions to assist with this.

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My earlier C-Suite Perspectives Leadership Blogs:

September 2017: Six Leadership Insights from a local “Fortune 1000” CEO – with Martin Marietta CEO C. Howard Nye.

November 2016: Learning about Leadership through Life – with Duke Energy NC President David Fountain

May 2016: Seven Insights on Leadership, Success and Diversity from Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good

Feb 2015: Raleigh Chamber of Commerce CEO Harvey Schmitt shares about leadership and collaboration

May 2014: Exploring Leadership, Talent Development and Innovation with a Local Senior ABB Executive

March 2014: Leadership Advice from a Senior Lenovo Executive