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The Leadership Conversation series

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Ever wonder what makes a good leader in an ever-changing and increasingly complex world? Join us for reflections from 15 Deloitte leaders who are embarking on a journey to discuss leadership philosophy, challenges, and trends. Together, they will share a compelling and multifaceted story of what it means to be a strong leader today.

As we kick off the first conversation on leadership foundations, take a sneak-peak of what these leaders have to say. Then, read the full posts and join the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn with #LCS.

Conversation 1: Leadership foundations

Why are you so optimistic?

So…I guess that’s why I am an optimistic leader. There are so many examples of under-the-radar leadership around us every day—leadership that reminds me why I remain hopeful in humanity. Over the next few months, some Deloitte colleagues will share more posts like this in a series we’re dubbing as Deloitte’s Leadership Conversation Series (#LCS). As you read our posts, I hope you’ll see that leadership doesn’t look just one way or have one voice. Take a read of the different stories and acts of leadership we share—and don’t be surprised if you catch yourself feeling a bit more optimistic afterward too.

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Dan Helfrich
Federal Government Services leader

Changing leadership expectations

Possessing inherit traits such as ambition and emotional intelligence help people become leaders faster than their peers. There are also universal capabilities that leaders should develop over time through experience, education, or exposure. Influencing others, having sound business judgment, and being able to collaborate are skills that improve with repeated practice, experimentation, and reflection.

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Stacey Philpot
Human Capital principal

A personal reflection on inclusive leadership

As leaders, we have to encourage an open dialogue about inclusion by focusing on its value. To do so, I encourage every leader to measure their effectiveness by their ability to create an inclusive followership. The strength of your followership is measured by your thinking, your actions, and how you support and champion others to be successful.

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Mike Canning
Consulting principal

Core values and beliefs: A prerequisite to strong leadership

Leadership is both an innate attribute and a skill that can be developed. Like other coachable traits, it requires mentorship, dedication, and practice. To be truly great, you have to foster that spark inside that ignites when faced with new challenges. You have to be a leader and you have to desire to lead.

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Nishita Henry
Federal Technology practice leader

Leaders are born and made

I was inspired by a bold demonstration of leadership by very young professionals who are just beginning their careers. These consultants executed strategic development and implementation seamlessly, while collaborating with Samagra, an Indian company, to enhance their mission of providing affordable and accessible sanitation services in poor, urban areas of India. It was the diversity of fresh perspectives of young, trained professionals married with the proven experience of the client’s executives that created unique value. As organizations begin to contemplate how they can accomplish their missions with greater impact, intentionally combining the creativity and experience of leaders at all levels and backgrounds will be essential.

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Kelvin Womack
Federal Leadership Solutions service offering leader

Conversation 2: Activating the digital organization and transition to the future of work

Leadership disrupted: Digital leadership and the federal workforce

As recently as five years ago, the relationship between IT and the business was one of enablement—how technology supports the mission of the organization. Now, everything is digital; technology isn’t just an enabler of the mission: It is the mission. The biggest leadership challenge organizations face today is leading or creating “digital-ready” organizations that can capitalize on the exponential increase in technology capabilities that impact all aspects of the business—customers, employees, management.

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Diane Murray
Civilian Sector leader

How leaders must adapt to a new era

One of my passions at Deloitte is working with organizations to reimagine how their leaders can be prepared to face the workplace of tomorrow. As a result, I often ask myself how are organizations, technology, and the workforce changing and how can I enable their leaders to be prepared for these changes? In my 30+ years of consulting, I’ve learned that traditional ways of thinking cannot last forever—this is especially true for leaders right now. Today’s leader needs to not just adapt to technology, but must embrace a new mindset to address situations more quickly, make decisions without information, take prudent risks, and be intentional about relating to and learning from others.

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David Dye
Human Capital managing director

Fostering high-performing teams

The key to this current digital era is not merely change, but change at an accelerating rate. Company-wide software upgrades used to take five years—these days, two new versions would have come and gone! This generation expects a faster means of interacting with the world, demanding responsiveness, flexibility, and innovation. How can organizations deliver? The key is decentralization—“networks of teams” between small and highly autonomous units. Teams feature a variety of functional backgrounds, and focus on specific objectives. Meanwhile, a more traditional hierarchy forms the backbone from which specialized teams are assembled.

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Kathleen Purtill
Consulting principal

Reinforcing leadership culture in the digital age

What possible relationship could there be between drones, students, and our nation’s border? I asked myself this question about these seemingly disconnected themes a couple of weeks ago at a “Red Cell” with 20 practitioners on my US Customs and Border Protection account. Red Cells are oftentimes used by intel agencies to construct potentially dangerous scenarios by uncovering connections between unrelated topics or events. I watched practitioners—from analysts to partners—challenge themselves to stretch their minds and think differently than they would in their normal project environments. They were taking risks, finding direction through ambiguity, and challenging the status quo—the exact skills that are essential for leaders in this digital age.

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Courtney Hammond
Human Capital principal

Conversation 3: The simply irresistible experience and sustaining organizational performance

The digital leader’s advantage

The idea of leaning in to digital can seem intimidating for many leaders. As my colleague Courtney Hammond mentioned, it may mean going outside of your comfort zone. (I, for one, have benefited from reverse mentoring by junior professionals who have become my digital guides, helping me make the most of my social media and other platforms.) Yet we must lean in if we want to help our organizations transform from “doing” digital things to “becoming” digital. Once leaders make the intentional decision to invest time, energy, and resources into a digital culture, the advantages for connection and enhanced team performance are exciting.

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Sean Morris
Federal Human Capital leader

The future of work: Sustaining irresistible experiences and organizational performance

The nature of work and the workforce is changing. Populations, which are more diverse than ever, are living and working longer. Additionally, transformations in people and resources are making them more accessible than ever before. As the leader of the Defense and National Security Sector at Deloitte, I am often asked: How should federal agencies and organizations adapt to these changes? While there is no lone panacea, many successful organizations often:

  1. Put learning at the core, 
  2. Develop a network mindset, and 
  3. Build collaborative and purposeful environments.

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Nathan Houser
Defense and National Security leader

Inclusive leadership: Learning to unlearn?

Inclusive leadership is a hot topic—and it means many different things to different people. In a time when corporate America is doubling down on supporting diversity and inclusion efforts, many leaders are well aware of the business value diversity and inclusion brings. Research has shown that a more engaged, empowered, and authentic workforce often means gains to productivity, more innovation, and an overall improvement on the bottom line.

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Edward Van Buren
Lead client service partner

Lead differently than you were led

In a constantly changing mission, budget, talent, and technology environment, the leadership approaches that today's executives observed as they grew in their careers may not always work today. Leading differently, using a few simple approaches, may help you navigate this constantly changing workplace. Most of the agency leaders I talk to understand that there is a digital transformation going on. Fewer of them realize that this change is about more than just technology—it's about the digital mindset. Adopting technologies that help us become more agile, innovative, collaborative, customer-focused, and risk intelligent only gets us halfway toward actually being those things. The other half comes from leaders enabling a workforce and creating a workplace that embody those traits as well.

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John Forsythe
Managing director

Intentionality and care

What makes an organization great? When I think about this question, a million answers come to mind: Innovative capabilities, a far reaching brand, talent…the list goes on. But exceptional leadership is needed to build these capabilities in an organization.

Exceptional leaders have an ability to inspire and energize in ways that harness greater potential of people and organizations. I believe that in today’s world, leadership is the differentiating factor. The best leaders can see around corners, adapt quickly to change, exhibit courage and take risks and perhaps most importantly inspire and guide those around them to do the same. In this constantly and rapidly changing world, organizations must treat leadership as a core business capability to be built intentionally, refined on an ongoing basis, and developed at all levels.

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Kelvin Womack
Federal Leadership Solutions service offering leader

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