This week, Communities of Excellence 2026 Vice-Chair Rick Norling was invited to speak at the California Council for Excellence's Annual Leadership Symposium. I also had the pleasure of attending and listening to five fantastic speakers share their stories about how they got to where they are, and what is important to them as a leader.
Some of the take-ways from the Symposium:
Leadership takes courage: Fear is a reaction and courage is a choice.
It's all about relationships.
Ethics are a line your draw on the way to your values.
Leading an organization grounded in values was one of the common themes. We heard multiple stories about how organizational values can provide meaning to people where they work. Values guide and reinforce behavior, and the hope is that employees seek to behave consistent with values both at their work and in their personal lives.
Rather than values just being a list posted on the wall, it is important that they come from the employees themselves. One idea was to use storytelling to understand an organization's values: Tell me about a time when you were most proud of working here....what are the common themes?
Much like in high performing organizations, we believe that high performing communities should be grounded by a set of community values. As we launch this initiative in 3-4 communities, we look forward to working with each of our pilot communities and their residents to understand the unique values that are important to them.