Page 1 of my book begins "I had met Frances Hesselbein when she spoke to my leadership class in business school," more than a decade ago.
(You can read the rest of the story at the book's page and clicking "Look inside").
She and her style of servant leadership have influenced my practice significantly, especially from seeing her in action in person, also from the company she keeps, such as Marshall Goldsmith, General Lloyd Austin III, Jim Collins, and more.
In the past few years we've become friends, which I hope shows up in my book. Two of my first thoughts about Frances and leadership are:
- To serve is to live, her fundamental phrase about how she leads and lives. The more I interact with her, the more depth the phrase takes.
- She communicates in a few words what other leaders struggle to understand and communicate for years. She has more experience at every level of organizational and personal leadership than you and she's reflected enough to express what she's learned, apparently effortlessly.
I can't describe how much I've learned from her. I hope you catch some of that wisdom from her.
Through her I posted my first Leader to Leader journal article.
Through her I helped lead leadership workshops at West Point.
One thing missing from the audio recording is her full expression in her non-verbal communication, especially her eyes. She's incredibly charming. In person you can see that she leads with more tools than just words.
Here is her official bio:
One of the most highly respected experts in the field of contemporary leadership development, Frances Hesselbein is the namesake for The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh, and the Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning quarterly journal, Leader to Leader.
The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum is a continuation of the organization founded as The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management.
Mrs. Hesselbein was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States of Americaâ€™s highest civilian honor, by President Clinton in 1998 for her leadership as CEO of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. from 1976â€“1990, as well as her service as â€œa pioneer for women, volunteerism, diversity and opportunity.â€ Her contributions were also recognized by the first President Bush, who appointed her to two Presidential Commissions on National and Community Service.
From 2009â€“2011, Mrs. Hesselbein served as the Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership at the United States Military Academy at West Point, in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership. She was the first woman, and the first non-graduate to serve in this chair. Also in 2009, the University of Pittsburgh introduced The Hesselbein Global Academy for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement. The Academyâ€™s aim is to produce experienced and ethical leaders who will address critical national and international issues and advance positive social and economic initiatives throughout the world.
Mrs. Hesselbein serves on many nonprofit and private sector corporate boards, including Mutual of America Life Insurance Company, the Bright China Social Fund, California Institute of Advanced Management, and Teachers College, Columbia University Presidents Advisory Council. She served as the Chairman of the National Board of Directors for Volunteers of America from 2002â€“2006. In December 2013 Volunteers of America honored Mrs. Hesselbein with the Maud Ballington Booth Legacy Award for a lifetime of pioneering social change.
For her exceptional work and her continued commitment to developing leaders of all ages, as demonstrated in her work with the Hesselbein Institute, Mrs. Hesselbein has been awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards from ATHENA International, Best Practice Institute, the Girl
Scout Council of Greater New York, and the International Leadership Association. Mrs. Hesselbein has been inducted into the Enterprising Women Hall of Fame and is a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania. Fortune Magazine named Hesselbein one of the Worldâ€™s 50 Greatest Leaders in 2015.
Mrs. Hesselbein was named a Senior Leader at the United States Military Academyâ€™s 2008 National Conference on Ethics in America. In 2007, Mrs. Hesselbein was awarded the John F. Kennedy Memorial Fellowship by Fulbright New Zealand and was the first recipient of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Security Award in 2003.
Mrs. Hesselbein is the recipient of twenty-one honorary doctoral degrees. She is the coeditor of twenty-seven books in twenty-nine languages. Mrs. Hesselbein has traveled to sixty-eight countries representing the United States. She is the author of Hesselbein on Leadership, My Life in Leadership and More Hesselbein on Leadership; and most recently, the enhanced edition of Peter Druckerâ€™s The Five Most Important Questions: Enduring Wisdom for Today's Leaders.