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The PeopleCap Playbook

Timely insights and actionable people strategies for leaders.

100,000 Opportunities to Build or Dilute Your Culture – Lessons from Delta

By formulanone from Huntsville, United States - Delta N981EV Bombardier CRJ200 Takeoff ATL June 2015, CC BY-SA 2.0

Last year, I was asked to serve on a panel in Atlanta with senior executives of Cox Automotive, Rheem Manufacturing, and Delta to share insights on cultivating an effective culture. Cox Automotive, Rheem, and Delta were on the panel because of their vigilant commitment to maintaining a positive and productive culture for all of their employees. Collectively, they have over 100,000 employees, and their cultures are shaped every day by the actions and decisions of each of those 100,000 employees.

On my way to Atlanta, my Delta flight was delayed almost two hours. Fortunately, I was flying in the day before my panel, but most passengers were flying in for business meetings that day, and the delay was causing significant disruption to their schedules.  Tensions and frustrations were high. Continue reading “100,000 Opportunities to Build or Dilute Your Culture – Lessons from Delta”

Culture of Scarcity is Crushing the Nonprofit World

In another sector, alarm bells would be going off – talent is not keeping pace with technology and the strategic skills needed in a competitive, knowledge-based climate. Innovation is stifled, if alive at all. Spending is a bad word.

We’ve starved the nonprofit sector in the name of fiscal prudence grounded within the myth that running lean is a virtuous strategy. In the for-profit realm, we would expect overly anemic organizations to fold or completely reinvent themselves to oxygenate back to health. In the nonprofit world, we consider it a badge of honor to do more for less, chase our tails for a pittance, and live with the insecurity of our livelihoods failing to be renewed in the next grant cycle. Continue reading “Culture of Scarcity is Crushing the Nonprofit World”

#21 Culture Decision

In their first baseball tournament of the Spring, my son’s team found its way into the Championship Game. Late in the game, we had runners on first and second. We needed to move the runners around, but stealing was out of the question. Their catcher was throwing everyone out.

#21 came up to bat. He had gotten on base every at bat during the entire tournament, and this was his chance to remain perfect. The coach gave him the green light; but he didn’t swing for the fences. He laid down a beautiful bunt. Continue reading “#21 Culture Decision”

Herb Kelleher is the Boss.

On a recent trip, I flew Southwest Airlines and read a great article by Matt Crossman in the in-flight magazine eulogizing Herb Kelleher, Southwest’s long tenured and beloved CEO who passed away in January. The article describes Herb’s leadership style and the legendary culture he created at Southwest.

If you follow our blog regularly, you’ll be familiar with our description of culture: “Culture is the boss when the boss is not around.” Herb Kelleher embodied this saying. Continue reading “Herb Kelleher is the Boss.”

History of Underinvestment in Talent

pothole and traffic cones in road

The nonprofit sector has a long history and culture of underinvesting in talent. In the name of financial stewardship and the doctrine of mission, nonprofit employees have existed within a culture where working harder for less money is a badge of honor. As admirable as this commitment to working for the benefit of our communities and others has been, over time the ratchet effect of lower wages in ever tightening budgets, lack of investment in professional development, and the organic burgeoning of nonprofit roles in which people continue to take on more and more responsibility without increase in compensation has led to the sector falling far behind in talent compensation. Continue reading “History of Underinvestment in Talent”

Get on Board | “What To Know Before You Serve”

Do you have a heart for service? Are you thinking about joining the board of a non-profit but aren’t sure if you have the time, treasure or talent necessary to be a valuable member? Maybe you’ve already joined a board but aren’t quite sure of the full scope of your responsibilities. No matter what your situation, cityCURRENT and the Center for Nonprofit Management will help guide you through “what to know before you serve” at their inaugural Get on Board Luncheon in Nashville! Continue reading “Get on Board | “What To Know Before You Serve””

Human Resources Boot Camp


Nonprofit leaders wear a lot of hats, including serving as Directors of Human Resources. In this highly competitive talent climate, how can your organization attract, retain, and develop top talent without breaking the bank? In this two-day boot camp, we will discuss some of the challenges facing nonprofits in the current talent landscape and steps that your organization can take to ensure you hire great people, keep them longer, and continue to grow them into future leaders of your organization while ensuring that your organization remains legally compliant. Continue reading “Human Resources Boot Camp”

Leading Young Employees

baby in a necktie

A lot of leaders are struggling to lead young team members effectively. And sure, some of it relates to the Millennial generation. There are generational markers that shape our perspectives: My generation had MTV and Nintendo, Millennials have social media and smart phones. Those things definitely shape who we are. But I also think many of us Gen Xers were ambitious, impatient, wanting the world and quite convinced that we could be doing a better job in the CEO’s chair (okay, well I certainly was). Continue reading “Leading Young Employees”

Listening Is Therapy

red sofa therapy couch

While conducting interviews with employees for a client, one person leaned in at the close of the interview and said, “You’re so easy to talk to. Thank you so much – it feels like therapy!”

The great part was that this organization isn’t facing any issue of note and the interview was pretty basic, as interviews in my world go – nothing heavy or emotional came up. It’s not uncommon for people to respond this way following an hour telling me about their work lives, some even get a bit choked up or cry. Continue reading “Listening Is Therapy”

What We’re Reading: Blitzscaling

If your company is growing rapidly, then this book is for you!

Blitzscaling is loosely defined as the playbook for “building a dominant world leading business in record time.” Most importantly, Blitzscaling requires prioritizing “speed over efficiency in the face of uncertainty.”

Blitzscaling is not for everyone. We’re talking hypergrowth and first mover advantage here. It’s not for those who crave work life balance or modest market share. This is the winner-take-all model that companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple have built. Continue reading “What We’re Reading: Blitzscaling”

Get in the Rink

I can’t roller skate. Never learned. While roller skating isn’t a skill I need regularly at this point in my life, the reason I can’t roller skate is important.

When growing up, it seemed like every birthday party was at Skateland. Every. Single. One. I couldn’t skate; and so every time, I sat at the tables outside of the rink and watched everyone make fools of themselves – slipping and falling. Some kids were so bad, they had to have a walker to hold them up. I wasn’t about to make a fool out of myself, and I stayed safely on the outside. Continue reading “Get in the Rink”

Receiving Feedback is Humbling

people in audience

I have been working for months on the content for a 4-hour workshop to help executives lead effectively in a talent-driven economy. This past week, I had the opportunity to conduct the workshop with three consecutive groups of key leaders – totaling about 55 people. At the end of the workshop, the group leader asked each member to provide feedback on what went well and what I could improve. So, by the end of the week, I had stood in front of 55 people each of whom told me something negative about my presentation or my delivery. My self-esteem was in the toilet. Continue reading “Receiving Feedback is Humbling”

Get on Board and Make a Difference: The Board’s Role in Talent Development

Great talent is hard to come by and non-profits find themselves with the added disadvantage of limited budgets. In this increasingly competitive landscape, what is the role of the board in ensuring the organization has the talent it needs to thrive and drive impact? Nonprofits have historically underinvested in talent both financially and from a development perspective. How can the board help grow the team’s skills, develop future leaders, support the retention of key talent, and invest in longview strategies for the benefit of the organization?

Meg & Katie will share how on February 15th!

To RSVP for event click HERE.

You Can’t Leave without Telling Me!

Recently, I was out of town facilitating a Board/CEO retreat. The retreat was incredibly productive. Everyone willing to put tough issues on the table and candidly discuss them. At the end of the retreat, strained relationships had been strengthened, expectations had been clarified and agreed upon, and there was an understanding and appreciation of the value each member of the Board could bring to the CEO. There was an enthusiasm, cohesion, and excitement in the group that hadn’t been present for months. To say that I was riding high would be an understatement. Continue reading “You Can’t Leave without Telling Me!”

No Short Cuts on a Ladder

Recently I attended my first wedding as a “friend of the Groom’s parents.” I’m happy to report the wedding circuit redux is as much fun as the first time around but with less responsibility. (I didn’t have to wear a bridesmaid’s dress or write a toast!) In between the first dance, the cutting of the cake and the dance floor favorite, “Twist and Shout,” the conversation among the parents of 20-somethings turned to child’s career plans.

One common theme from this group of highly accomplished professional parents was this: Our kids from the on-demand generation may not fully understand that the road to success is long. Continue reading “No Short Cuts on a Ladder”

Don’t Let Your Team Sink

image by mellin paulo bernardo
image by mellin paulo bernardo

How We Miss Each Other Based on Differing Interpretations of Shared Experiences

When I coach teams struggling to build trust and get on the same page, I’ve started asking a new question: “What is the pressure on you and where does it come from?”

Over time I’ve learned that in many types of relationships we miss each other, just barely, due to misinterpretation of a shared experience – like ships passing. Continue reading “Don’t Let Your Team Sink”