Keys to Great Leadership


By Mark A. Leon

Great leaders are not born, nor invented, but are harnessed through experiences, learning, environmental exposure and ideals of excellence.  These men and women that invoke respect and admiration from their colleagues and peers have earned this through success, respect, loyalty and the ability to inspire.

What sets these individuals apart from the rest?  What truly defines a great leader in an age where ethics and values too often get compromised?

These qualities will paint a very visual picture and as the colors blend together, a creation will form laying the masterpiece of the core values of great leadership.

If you can achieve these five core qualities/traits of a great leader, your future will be paved with achievement.

Great Leadership Traits

Be Yourself: Your True Self – Too often, we feel we need to wear two hats, personal and professional.  The perception that the life outside of work must remain isolated from the life inside the office is one that clouds the ability to create loyalty, partnership and trust in an organization.  A truly inspiring leader is a person that lets his people know all he/she is.  From the great to the bad, transparency builds trust.  It is that ability to open yourself up as a human being with emotion, harnessed and raw, that provides others with the feeling of community.  No team will ever succeed without collaboration, innovation and trust.  Being yourself is the first step to an open environment of sharing and teamwork.

Challenge your people – Human behavior is teased with routine and addiction.  We are surrounded by binge TV, apps, games, addictive behavior and the comfort of doing what we know repeatedly.  It is often our downfall.  When a new processes or technology is introduced, getting the masses to take on a new way of thinking can be the most difficult act of a leader, but a necessary one.  A great leader will continuously challenge and promote change.  Change is constant and necessary.  It is the foundation of growth.  Without it, others take over the reign and you soon become a forgotten commodity.

Be open to failure – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently said, “our company is the greatest company in the world at failure”.  A CEO of one of the largest brands on the planet was bragging about failure.  Brilliant leadership.  The ability to fail means you are willing to take risk.  If you focus on the great design and brand heavy companies; Apple, Google, McDonalds, Samsung, IBM and more, you will see a common trend:  failure.  At Google, they may test 1000 products before hitting a home run and they are okay with that.  The ability to accept and “promote” failure is a sign of great leadership, because you are putting the future in the hands of those you trust and are willing to take accountability for their risks.

Solicit Feedback – in one way or another, we all go through performance assessments.  Some formal, some informal.  Some annual, some quarterly.  They are a necessary evil, but do serve value.  A strong leader takes the next step.  He/she will constantly look to those in the heart of a project and learn from them.  Leaders cannot be in every place at every time, so they must rely on honest evaluation from their teams to help understand what changes and adjustments need to be made.

Trust your team – Trust is earned.  Trust is an element of a much greater good.  The greatest leaders will do the follow:

  • Build a team of diverse thoughts and ideas
  • Welcome open and constant feedback
  • Let teams take risks and be open to failure
  • Trust in their skills and abilities
  • Be there for advice and counsel
  • Take pride in their team’s successes
  • Reward and recognize excellence

All these things build trust.  Trust leads to loyalty.  Loyalty leads to strength of team.  A strong team drives results.


There you have it, the traits of a great leader.  Where do you stand?

Perpetual motion with broken light bulbs and glowing bulb

Perpetual motion with broken light bulbs and glowing bulb

My Hike at the 2017 HireVue Digital Disruption Conference


By Mark A. Leon

The 2017 HireVue Digital Disruption Conference is being held in scenic and picturesque Park City, Utah.  Amidst the tree covered mountains, green pastures and patches of snow on the tips, the setting of this conference is nothing short of spectacular.  Being invited as a corporate sponsor, I have been honored to be part of this wonderful information sharing and vision of the future event.

With every conference, there is a culture of networking and relationship building.  There is also a great deal of standing, sitting, eating and listening.  To neutralize the inactivity, HireVue has built in a wellness program featuring morning hiking and yoga.

Being of the Jack Kerouac free-spirited lifestyle, I took to the rocky path alone and not with the group to stretch my body and mind.

I wanted to share my journey in photographic images.  Come and enjoy this mornings brisk hike through the quiet nature preserves of Park City.


























The Poignancy of Life – Original Poem


By Mark A. Leon

The poignancy of life is a profound and delicate flower
It blossoms so infrequently in the most ideal conditions
With a sprinkle of love
A dash to compassion
A flurry of honesty
A nurturing of sunlight

It is born inside all of us
Nestled in its womb

A heartbeat away from exploding on a journey through the universe

First stop, purpose
It’s a confusing place
So many wandering, looking, not sure what it is they seek

This stop is crowded
Not for the weak or timid
It is honored in is irreverence for goodness
All creatures unite

Next stop, knowledge
Knowledge is offered with a price
Some will tease it with gold and jewels
Others offer a quiet place on the hill void of pressure

This stop is filled with all the scents of Mother Earth
From here, one direction turns to many.
Some seek explanation, others continue on

Next stop, understanding
It all serves a better good

This means could end
We have become the protectors
Now nurtured, we are free to see our place

The stops become fewer
Distances longer
Weariness sets in

Next stop, Reflection one mile
Slow, ease in and step into the house of mirrors
No directions
No depth
Only self-awareness

Each line on your face, a story
All those you have left behind smile behind you

Drawn in, you don’t want to leave
There is comfort in these memories
A fragile stability to all of this

Time has another plan
We must move on


Is Your Company Missing the Boat By Not Having a Thriving Talent Community?


By Mark A. Leon

The term “Talent Community” has been defined, interpreted, misunderstood and speculated on for decades.  Year after year, talent acquisition leaders and business executives all agree that building and harnessing talent networks is the key to corporate growth and maturity.  So why then do so few have them and many that do don’t execute properly?

There are many reasons.  Let us highlight a few.

  1. “I need to hire now.  A Talent Community is not going to get me bodies in these seats.” You have heard the immediacy argument.  There is validity.  A successful talent community is a long-term relationship driven initiative.  It must be planned with proper design, executed with a multi-tier launch and harnessed with a strong communication platform strategy.
  2. “I have a Facebook and LinkedIN Page. Isn’t that a Talent Community?”  Yes and no.  A talent community is made up of individuals with common interests or goals.  People that follow your social communities are in fact part of a talent community.  Here is where that logic falls apart.  First, you don’t own the platform.  At any given time, Facebook or LinkedIN can drop your group.  Second, you cannot parse the talent based on skill, geography or level of experience thus making it a challenge to send targeted communications to specific pockets of talent.
  3. Who manages it? This part may be the trickiest of all the concerns around talent communities.  For this to succeed, this must be a partnership between Talent Acquisition and Marketing/Communications.  Recruitment understands the forecast and needs of the human capital and marketing/communications have the knowledge expertise to provide the communication content.  Without both parties working together, your company cannot launch and manage a strong talent community.
  4. What type of content do I provide and how often? This is different for every company, but here are a few recommendations that may help.
    1. Keep the content relevant to your audience, engaging and relatable.
    2. Focus on key opportunities, associate profiles, success stories and culture.
    3. Don’t overwhelm your community. Only provide 3 – 5 communications annually.
    4. Design the communication to look attractive, professional and enticing (Newsletter formats work very well).
  5. How do I grow my talent community? This will take time, but during the design phase you should consider rolling out a three-tier option for people to register and ensure you do periodic reminders with email campaigns, social sharing and candidate interaction. Throughout the years and beyond.
    1. Provide a registration button on your career site – Often, candidates do not know which job to apply for or they just aren’t ready, so the talent community is the next best option.
    2. Team based social share. Get the recruitment team, business leaders and hiring managers to do a big push on their networks to enhance visibility of the new community.
    3. Direct competitor pipeline. Do lead generation and invite those that are the closest fit to your skills and culture to join and learn more about who you are.

We hope this clears up some common misconceptions and provides valuable tips to take back to your leadership.

At the end of the day, we all want to belong.  Networks have been around since bowling leagues and will continue into the digital age.  They are all around and if companies do not realize the importance of the future talent, they will lose their edge.


Where it all began – Original Poem


By Mark A. Leon

Take me to the tracks where it all begin
Our first kiss in the back of the pickup truck
Two kids with a six pack and our whole life ahead of us

We dreamed of riding the rail cars anywhere
Each town a new adventure
Never looking back

It was the American Dream
Our “On the Road” moment
The epic love story
Leave the safe suburban life behind and find our way by only the guidance of the sun

What more could we want?

Make love under the moonlight on a strange open field
Play guitar for a few dollars so we could share a beer by the river

I would promise you the world and shower you with the gifts of nature

Paris of the prairie on Monday
Rural pastures of the Old West on Tuesday
Eggs with the locals on Main Street on Wednesday
Dancing to a live jazz band on the streets of anywhere Thursday

railroad-5889341577494528The weekend is ours
Play on the swings
Read a book in the park

Ponder life and gaze into each others eyes
The perfect story for two lovers with nothing to lose

We sure would knock down the fences
Cross out the rules and live a life without boundary

Quite a dream we had on those railroad tracks
Maybe just a fantasy, but one I still see so clearly in my sleepy subconscious

You are as beautiful as the day we met
Golden hair waving in the wind
Misty eyes penetrating my soul

You had me at hello and promised never to say goodbye
I can still hear your song as the train whistles on its journey across our great country

Pleased to Meet You My Old Friend – Original Poem


By Mark A. Leon

I’m so pleased to meet you
Do I know your name?
The face is so familiar
A reflection of a person I used to know

Did we live well?
A life that will be remembered?
As the suburban savior or a lost soul in the city of ruins

You are laughing at me
Mocking my sadness
Tearing away at the depressive state of insanity

I’m a mouse looking for cheese
A vagrant drowning in the storm

The devil was so kind once upon a time
A mentor in the sexual trilogy that was this life
Chapter one, an innocent boy without direction
Chapter two, a runaway
Chapter three, a pawn to the power of the beauty of women
Chapter Four, incomplete

Just stop
No more of this nonsense

You torture me with these silly memories
You cut me to taste the blood of defeat

I think I am starting to remember
The disease is on hold
I see now
We have met

We played together
We made love to many
We enjoyed the fruit of the original sin

I can still taste the warmth of your sweet love

Sarcastic chuckle
Dust covering the memory book

All their faces
So happy, so content in the moment

I want to forget, but always remember
A catch-22 without a cure

It is a pleasure to meet you, the man under the skin
The pawn in the corner
Not gone, but fading


My Greatest Mistake – Original Poem


By Mark A. Leon

I wanted to be your greatest mistake
The fool that played in your charade
The jester that stumbled on your laughter
A one in a million chance
The last memory you take on your eternal journey

Fools conned by the dangling jewels of love
The great deception

We broke all the laws
Made love under the stars
Drank the blood of Earth’s wine

I fell off the highest cliff with you
Cut by the trees
Healed by the clouds
Cushioned by the soft cradle of your arms locked into mine

Those nights fate stole away rational thought
Drunk under the moonlight

We danced together
Even fooled the undertaker

We were the perfect criminals
Never a crime, but always in the wrong

06db18ade8ca26526ca5a8b9cbed6f75You made the pain sweet
Covering my insanity with your honey
Swallowing the sweetness of youth was never more satisfying

Now I read your letters and remember your face
My greatest mistake

Never a regret
Always an adventure
Lost caves of crystals and diamonds
Endless seas of unknown lands

You were my drug of choice
A hallucination I never wanted to see clearly
Like a race against time, we piloted at the speed of light

Now, I see
A toast to you, my greatest mistake