One simple question: How can I help?

This is the question my mentor asked me years ago when I was complaining about my first job out of college. My strengths were not being fully utilized and my direct manager didn’t care. As a result, I was an unhappy camper and had no idea how to move forward. Kennedy, my mentor, gave me some homework: a one-page vision statement.

Figure out where you want to be in the next three to five years

Kennedy said, “You need to figure out where you want to be in the next three to five years. I’d love to help you, but I have no idea how.”  This was a turning point for me. I realized I own my happiness and the impact I had on others. My life and career were up to me. I did some soul-searching with a little bit of work on myself and made a plan. It was up to me to take control over my development.

Unfortunately, I realized my current path would not meet my happiness goals. So, I applied third round and was accepted to Harvard Business School. Fortunately, I had another amazing mentor, Clayton Christensen, as my section leader. Clay was the master of the matrix, disruptive technologies, and reminded us of the importance of your resource allocation strategy. One of his legacies is his book, How Will You Measure your Life? His point was: make sure you allocate your time and resources to your most important priorities. Lots of people say “things” (i.e., health, family, coaching others, etc.) are important or critical, but when you look at where they’re actually spending time and money, those priorities are not getting the focus they deserve. This was another game changer for me and why I am so passionate about strategy. It helps companies and their leaders align to what’s important and develop strategies to support the goals.


Clay Christensen was an amazing mentor for me at HBS.


Thirty years later, I still see unhappy leaders who could benefit from doing this homework

We know today’s leaders want autonomy along with empathy. They want direction and are hungry for communication about where the company is going and how they fit.  Next level leaders are much more self-aware and want leaders who care, not only about work, but about their “whole-person.”

When Cyndi and I came together to create Stretch, we saw this huge opportunity to connect culture and strategy, which is directly tied to your leaders. We have both coached and supported hundreds of leaders and companies through growth phases. One of the biggest challenges we see is development of the next level leader. We need to give them time and show how valuable they are to us. We developed “Stretch Your Impact” training to facilitate this.

Our team believes in personal strategic plans. The “Stretch Your Impact” program targets leaders who want to expand their capacity to become more self-aware and strategic. This is how we help them be happy! During the past month we conducted focus groups to further understand what it means to be a leader today. Some notable feedback we received:

Leadership it’s not for everyone, it’s hard work. –Chris

I’d like to take more ownership of my career, but I’m not sure how. –Kelly

Self-awareness is critical, I wish this was seen more of a strength for leaders rather than a weakness. –Alex

And, the two comments we find the most eye-opening:

I have no idea what training is available to me and I’m not even sure if there is a budget or who to ask. –Jen

I believe I can make a bigger impact if only given the opportunity to utilize my strengths. –Molly

We hope you will join us at our September 14 Chat to learn more about “How you can Help” your leaders expand their impact and help get them on the road to happiness.