Trust in Leaders

What makes a leader worthy of our trust and what should we also hold ourselves to?

Diana Chapman Walsh, president emeritus of Wellesley College and an exemplar of courage and integrity, talks about five attributes of trustworthy leadership needed for this time of complexity. When embodied, these capacities help us bring our full selves into our work.

1) Question ourselves.

2) Develop and attend to solid partnerships.

3) Avoid the use of force except as a last resort.

4) Value differences not only as a mark of respect but as a source of creative information.

5) Create a community.

From The Center for Courage and Renewal.

Great for Holiday Gifts, Discounted till 8:00 A.M. Sunday (PST)

My e-book, “Learning to Live: Essays on Life & Leadership” is available for $3.99 (43% discount) for the next 21 hours (8:00am Sunday PST)

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars Essays on Life as Art November 23, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
“Sometimes we find ourselves in the presence of others who elevate us by their substance, credibility , and essential goodness,” writes Tom Heuerman in this compelling autobiographical sketch–and so it is with his “Learning to Live” Essays on Life and Leadership”–an eBook that simply must become part of a series.“I aspire to live my life as improvisational art,” he says. And shows the way.
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
An insightful series of stories that can be read and appreciated by anyone! Tom does a terrific job of writing stories that we all can find ourselves in. As a previous employee of the Star Tribune, I can personally attest to his leadership.
 5.0 out of 5 stars Learning to Live: Essays on Life and Leadership June 13, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
It’s like a map wherein each chapter contains a pearl of wisdom that can help the reader/seeker to find its better self to live as Tom does: an authentic life
5.0 out of 5 stars Authenticity at its best! June 10, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Learning to Live is a work of art that every person daring to experience life should read. The author uses words that will bring you as close to humanity as possible. His way of sharing his journey through darkness into light is extraordinary. This is a testament to the fact that life can and should be practiced and lived. Whether you’re a seasoned leader or a start-up leader, this book is a reminder of how valuable each human being is. The end game isn’t in perfection but in living.I highly recommend this book. Great read!

My New Book: Value Driven Leadership

I am happy to announce the publication of my second e-book: Value Driven Leadership: A Story of Personal and Organizational Transformation at 

You may not be interested in leadership and organizations or in a more than 20-year-old story but stick with me for a moment.

Some times in life we have an unexpected experience that dramatically alters the trajectory of our life forever.

This book is about one of those experiences in my life.

I didn’t set out to be a change agent at the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis, MN. I needed a job. On my first day, the union steward told me what the rules were: dress down, cheat on expenses and overtime, and don’t make other union guys look bad.

I wasn’t going to conform to mediocrity or let someone else decide the course of my life. I set out to change the place. About 15 years later, a vice president told me that I was making others mad by leading change in the culture of the company. I continued to do what I was doing.

In between those sickening moments, I led change in the work, culture, and performance of the company through nine promotions and steps on the organizational chart.

Sometimes people come together and create something special and when that happens, it is mystical.

Challenged by a Teamster’s Union organizing effort and revenue shortfalls in the newspaper industry, we had to cut millions of dollars from the budget and defeat the union. We decided to do something different. We defined Value Driven Leadership for ourselves and choose to live true to our values. We created a vision for our work lives. We got everyone involved. We made sure everyone felt valued, involved, and informed.

Fifteen months later, we were a national success story. We melded employee engagement with values and respect for people and brought forth phenomenal business results. Business guru, Tom Peters, wrote about us. We spoke at conferences around the country. People came to visit and see our work. The CEO said out work would change the company forever. Of course there was a dark side to all of this, and I write about that too.

While we did this ground-breaking work, the newspaper industry sat on the edge of a precipice that threatened its very life: The Internet and its impending impact on newspaper readership and advertising revenue.

Soon the industry was in a free-fall decline. The Star Tribune went bankrupt. What happened to our industry-leading work that might help renew an industry?

You may not be interested in leadership, organizations, or newspapers. This story is about much more than those things: the newspaper setting is only the container for a larger story about how life works and can work in all aspects of our lives if we pay attention and learn about the deeper dynamics of life and how to utilize those underlying forces to create a high-energy life filled with aliveness.

My first e-book, Learning to Live: Essays on Life & Leadership tells the story of how my life changed based on the experiences in my new book.

I’d be grateful if you would help me spread the word. Thanks!


 In a recent post, I wrote about the movement of the Cultural Creatives. How do movements begin and what can we do to accelerate them?

In the article Divided No More, Parker J. Palmer described 4 stages in a movement approach to change.

1. Isolated people choose authenticity.

2. These people discover each other and connect for mutual support.

3. Empowered by their collective energy, they learn to translate private dilemmas into public issues.

4. New reward systems emerge to sustain the movement’s vision.

A movement begins when a person chooses authenticity over compliance. We are familiar with the dramatic examples: Rosa Parks felt scared that day in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, but she said no. She wouldn’t stand so a white person could sit. Her feet were tired. Her soul was tired. She had endured enough. She would no longer live a divided life. She would not collaborate any longer with those who denied her humanity. She didn’t care what they did to her. She stayed seated. And a movement began.

Bill Wilson was a hopeless, defeated, and hospitalized alcoholic facing imminent death. His elemental need to live rose from the deepest depths of his soul. He had a powerful spiritual experience that reordered his psyche. He never drank alcohol again, and began, from that place of despair, a movement that is worldwide and has saved unknown millions of lives. These and others are dramatic stories, but movements do not require heroes, celebrities, or identified leaders.

The second stage of a movement begins when solitary people find one another, connect, and provide mutual support. What is common in these groups and discussions is the energy, the honesty, the mutual support, the feelings of community, and an emerging worldview that feels real.

The third stage of a movement begins when private concerns become public issues. People find language for their insights and emotions. They see the interconnectedness with what they believed were personal matters with large and systemic public issues. Going public is to put one’s beliefs into the mix of public discourse.

People speak to small groups for little or no payment, they give support and share experience via the Internet for no cost, and they share their thoughts via blogs, essays, and pamphlets. People meet and talk over coffee and go out of their way to help and support others. Names are passed around and connections are made. People do not fight the dominant world view; they abandon it. Changes occur one conversation at a time, and the learning and language begin to permeate the social, cultural, and philosophical systems.

As a movement evolves people are first rewarded by the emotional satisfaction of living their values, the joy of creation, the mutual support and affirmation of others, and the excitement of being part of something greater than themselves. But the rewards for new ideas and new behavior must become tangible. This is the only way for the movement to be kept alive, viable, and sustainable. This is the fourth stage of a movement.

Members of movements hire one another. They buy one another’s books and other publications. They retweet tweets on Twitter. They share posts on Facebook and other social media methods. Tangible rewards for movement members seed the dominant culture and establish, formalize, and institutionalize the movement itself.

The stages of a movement overlap and emphasis shifts back and forth between stages as the whole of the movement moves forward. Each of us is in a slightly different place in the movement positioned to make our unique and authentic contributions. If we are mindful of the stages, we can take responsible actions and accelerate the movement’s emergence.

Live Boldly

Our smallest moves may trigger small or vast changes in the world we make and remake together. Trilobites have  come and gone; Tyrannosaurus has come and gone. Each  tried; each strode uphill; each did its evolutionary best. Consider that 99.9 percent of all species have come and gone. Be careful. Your own best footstep may unleash the very cascade that carries you away, and neither you nor anyone else can predict which grain will unleash the tiny or the cataclysmic alteration. Be careful, but keep on walking; you have no choice. Be as wise as you can, yet have the wisdom to admit your global ignorance. We all do the best we can, only to bring forth the conditions of our ultimate extinction, making way for new forms of life and ways to be. If we must eventually fail, what an adventure to be players at all.

Stuart Kauffman

The Cultural Creatives

Once they [Cultural Creatives] realize their numbers, their impact on America promises to be enormous, shaping a new agenda for the twenty-first century.  The Cultural Creatives

In 2000 Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson wrote a book entitled, The Cultural Creatives—a group of 50 million diverse Americans (60% women) who are creating a new culture in America.

Cultural Creatives care about the planet, relationships, and servant leadership. They have an organic, systemic, and holistic worldview. They value authenticity, believe in purpose, and live by strong values. They are idealistic, altruistic, and spiritual—not necessarily religious. They are creative and optimistic problem-solvers; they model new ways to live.

Cultural Creatives, disenchanted with greed, materialism, and status displays, oppose the abuse of rank; inequalities of race, class, and gender; and the narrowness and intolerance of the Religious Right.

Cultural Creatives are ecological thinkers–aware and mindful. They see the interconnectedness and value all of life. They detect patterns and surface and examine deep unconscious beliefs. These people evolve themselves consciously. They reject simplistic linear and dualistic (either/or) thinking and seek to optimize systems through creative both/and thinking.

They are the leaders for the times in which we live.

Most of us were not born to these values and skills. The psychic reorientation to a new worldview requires courage, service, sacrifice, and intellectual vigor. This journey within is the personal spiritual, intellectual, philosophical, and psychological shift of consciousness people must make if they want to consciously evolve the human condition and create a sustainable world.

The outcome of this hard work: A transformation in how we think, feel, and live. The prize for doing this work: A purposeful and interesting life and a deep self-respect-and a better world to leave behind for future generations to enjoy.

People who embrace new ways to think and live will unite under a shared purpose: to save the world by creating sustainable organizations, a sustainable global economy, and a planet that endures for future generations to enjoy.

Time is running out. Our ecological crisis and national decline require an acceleration of natural processes: a conscious and sustainable fast-forward of human social evolution without harming life in the process. We must think big, move fast, and address all our interconnected problems at once.

We created the world of today that no longer works for us. We can change it. Millions of like-minded people surround us. We need to find them, connect with them, and join together to add momentum to this movement.

Each of us has a role to play. We simply do what we can– large or small.