Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Learning about Leadership and Community

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Learning about Leadership and Community at an Express Pros Webinar

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be. —Rosalynn Carter

Destination: Dickson City

On a beautiful August morning, our Face of America journey took us to the McCann School of Business in Dickson City, PA. We went there to participate in a webinar featuring JackMcCannSBDC Smalley, the director of HR Learning and Development for Express Employment Professionals.

The event was organized by Amy Clegg and her staff at the Express Pros office in Scranton.

When we arrived, Brittany Pagnotti, Rameika Jones and Nikki Schake were attending to all the little details that would make the event a success.

In our opinion, the venue was perfect. The atmosphere was welcoming. The food was delicious, and the sense of community was genuine.

At the appointed hour, Evan Miller, the Campus Director of the McCann School of Business, welcomed everyone with these gracious words; “We are happy you are here.”

A Very Special Moment

It has always been our pleasure to celebrate the accomplishments of Amy Clegg and her Alexis Shotwellteam, but this time she turned the tables on us with an announcement that took us by surprise.

By nature, Amy is a giving person. She likes to help others get ahead. On this special occasion, she introduced Alexis Shotwell to the audience. Alexis is a student at the McCann School of Business. She wants to specialize in early childhood education.

When Alexis came to the front of the room, Amy told the audience that Alexis would receive the first annual Dr. Tony and Mrs. Kitch Mussari Leadership Scholarship. The moment belonged to Alexis. The surprise belonged to Kitch and me. No words can accurately describe the expression of delight on Alexis’s face, and the feeling of gratitude in our hearts for this honor.

Priceless Thoughts from Patricia L. Camayd

Being a good listener is central to employee engagement, retention and productivity.

Patricia L. Camayd is the Business Manager for Oliver Price & Rhodes Attorneys at Law. When she was a child she overcame shyness, and she became a good listener. Today shePatricia fully appreciates the importance of being a good listener. It is central to employee engagement, retention and productivity.

What is not said is often more important that what is said.

At the same time, she understands the importance of effective communications with employees. It is more than texts or e-mails. Effective communications is deeply rooted in the art of listening which requires these important elements: the elimination of distractions; the ability to read between the lines; eye contact; the ability to ask the right questions; showing respect; avoiding commentary or interjection; and matching the employee with the proper training and educational programs.

It is important to recognize and express gratitude to employees.

To move forward with employee engagement and aligned goals, it is important to think win win. Celebrate your joint and continued success. Say thank you as many ways as you can imagine is always a good idea.

Employees cherish personal letters that recognize their accomplishments.

Patricia Communication

These are a few of the things Patricia does to build effective employee relationships.

Establish mentorship programs.

Hold regular individual meetings for professional development.

Establish recognition programs, wellness programs, health and relaxation techniques.

Conduct team building exercises.

Encourage employees to write attributes about others which contribute to the organization to be read publically.

She ended her presentation with an excerpt from the poem Desiderata:

With all its sham drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy. Max Ehrmann

Jack Smalley’s Sage Advice

We are defined by who we are after we make a mistake.

Jack Smalley is the Director of HR Learning and Development for ExpressJack Poster Employment Professionals. For more than a generation Jack has been doing all he can to improve the workplace environment. He is best described by this observation from Brian Tracy:

Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.
On this day, Jack addressed The Top 5 Leadership Mistakes.

Mistake 1

Do not assume that your best employees do not need recognition. According to Jack, your best employees need and deserve recognition. Employees and supervisors should be given credit where credit is due.

Mistake 2

Don’t accept mediocre performance from C employees. Lowering the bar for the C employees who make up about 50% of the workforce will not move the organization forward. Overloading the A performers who make up 20% of the workforce is not the answer. There is no such thing as a good employee with a bad attitude.

Mistake 3

Dictator Decision Makers will not improve the work environment.

Referencing a famous quote by Sir Francis Bacon, Knowledge is power, Jack made the case for embracing people who think differently. He believes that great leaders know the value of maverick thinkers. Great leaders enable people to be different.

Mistake 4

Great leaders know how to communicate effectively.

Jack Smalley

Employees need to know what is going on. An employee deserves honesty. When it comes to leadership, everything is on the table.

The messenger is as important as the message especially when the message is bad news.

The top communication mistake is not telling the truth.

Mistake 5

The failure to mentor employees is a critical mistake.

In a compelling way, Jack used his own experience to demonstrate the importance of mentoring. His grandfather advised him to find something in life you enjoy. His father was his best friend. As a fire chief, he lived by these words: Don’t ask people to do things you are not willing to do yourself.

When Jack was 12 years old, he admired the quarterback of the high school football team. Every Saturday, he would meet with Sammy Dugger who mentored Jack. This was a priceless experience. It enabled Jack to become a successful football player in his own right, and it documented virtually all of the characteristics of successful mentoring.

Relationships matter. There is not a leader on earth who can succeed without employees_1 sharing information. You must surround yourself with good people, and you must be credible. Avoid anonymity. At all cost, take a personal interest in people.

Jack’s greatest mentor is his wife. She taught him the greatest lesson. Live family first.

When Jack mentioned David Cottrell’s book I thought about a famous quote from Monday Morning Leadership. It is a perfect description of Jack Smalley’s leadership philosophy:

Leadership can’t be claimed like luggage at the airport. Leadership can’t be inherited, even though you may inherit a leadership position. And leadership can’t be given as a gift – even if you’ve been blessed with an abundance of leadership skills to share with someone else. Leadership must be earned by mastering a defined set of skills and by working with others to achieve common goals. David Cottrell

The Express Employment Professionals Webinar event was an excellent example of what Jean Vainer wrote about community:

One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.

On this special day we experienced America at its very best, and for this wonderful learning experience we want to thank:

Amy Clegg;
Amy Staff

Nikki Schake:

Brittany Pagnotti;

Rameika Jones;

Evan Miller;

Patricia L. Camayd:

Jack Smalley.

You are the Face of America on its best day, and we are in your debt.

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Walking With Justice, Servant Leadership

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Walking With Justice, Servant Leadership

Written by: Tony Mussari
Edited By: Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs: Kitch & Tony Mussari
Copyright 2013, Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

God, help me make a contribution to a just world. Judge Max Rosenn

Some readers have called Mollie Marti’s book,IntroductionBG_1355 Walking with Justice, thoughtful, inspiring, transformational and profound. One reviewer celebrated it as a timeless handbook for being human. For Kitch and me, it is all that and more.

Last week our Face of America journey took us to Wilkes University. We wanted to be in the audience at the Gardner Lecture Series when Dr. Mollie Marti told the compelling story about her mentor, Judge Max Rosenn.

It was a wonderful moment of celebration and respect for a jurist who deserves nothing less. It was a beautiful moment for Mollie who is doing everything she can to share what she calls a love story similar to Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie. It was an incredible learning opportunity for the people who attended.


Mollie began her presentation with a heartfelt tribute to Judge Rosenn: “ He was the greatest servant leader I’ve known.”

Then this mother, lawyer, teacher and psychologist provided context with a definition of a servant mentor:

It is someone who inspires you to be more passionate about serving others and believing there is no other way to live. “From inside out, a servant mentor leaves an indelible thumbprint on the soul of another.”

You could hear a pin drop in the room when Mollie transitioned into her description of Judge Rosenn as a servant leader.

These are some of the things Kitch and I learned about Servant Leadership as practiced by Judge Max Rosenn and experienced by his law clerk, Mollie Marti.

1. Servant leaders are driven by the passion to serve others.

2. Servant leaders heal wounds and restore relationships.

3. Servant leaders are masters of empathic listening and affirming others.

4. Servant leaders inspire others to keep moving forward when hope is in short supply.

5. Servant leaders are masters of rejuvenation.

6. Servant leaders are stewards who are committed to help others grow.

7. Servant leaders create an environment that encourages resilience.

8. Servant leaders value relationships.

9. Servant leaders are solution-oriented.

10. Servant leaders celebrate what is right, and they work together to remedy what is wrong.

According to Mollie, “Our choices ultimately determine what we achieve and who we become.” Servant leaders provide models for productive choices.

One of the most important lessons Mollie learned from Judge Rosenn is recorded in this quotation:


If we didn’t feel that an individual can shape one’s life, we wouldn’t be concerned with developments of character and fundamental precepts like justice, the value of truth, the redeeming power of compassion, and the transformational power of love.

One of the most valuable lessons Mollie taught Kitch and me happened when she shared these words of wisdom: “No circumstance is so dark or hopeless that a change of heart and smart action cannot change the course.”

Samuel Butler believed that every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or anything else, is always a portrait of himself. Kitch and I went to Wilkes University on a beautiful autumn afternoon to listen to a friend talk about her hero. In the course of the discussion we recognized that the portrait she drew of Judge Rosenn produced a vivid image of her caring, giving, sharing andMMJG_1354 serving heart of gold and soul of platinum.

Thank you, Judy and Bob Gardner for this marvelous experience.

Thank you, Judge Rosenn for a lifetime of service to our country and our community.

Thank you, Mollie for preserving this legacy and sharing this message of hope and healing. You and your mentor are an essential part of the mosaic of the Face of America on its best day, and we are in your debt.

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Leadership, Love and Lincoln

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Leadership, Love and Lincoln

Written by Tony Mussari
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Digital Photographs Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2013
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
Historical Images from the Library of Congress Digital Collection

“Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves.  Love, therefore, is its
own reward.”
Thomas Merton

On this Valentine’s Day, Kitch and I would like to share a few of the things we learned about love from our 16th president, AbrahamIMG_9232_250 Lincoln, during our Face of America journey.

Ten months ago, we were recording scenes for our documentary Walking Into The Light At Gettysburg. During the presentation of the living historian who was interpreting Abraham Lincoln for the students from North Plainfield High School, I asked this question:

Help these students understand the importance of these two words compassion and tolerance?

He answered with words I did not expect to hear:


It’s hard for me, because when you are talking about ‘oh tell us about your leadership style…’

A lot of it you just do because you think it is the right thing to do and it comes from …love. Love of my fellow man.

I was a politician because I loved people.  I loved being a politician because you can help people. I think if you come from a position of love of your fellow man, I don’t think you can go wrong.

I think that out of love comes all of the actions. It’s the fountainhead. That’s what I try to do…and to me that’s all it takes, love and effort.

Granted this was an actor playing Lincoln, but in so many ways his words ring true.

When I think about the greatness of Abraham Lincoln, I think about a leader who personified:

Courtesy not acrimony;

Understanding not hostility;

Thoughtfulness not theatrics;

Kindness not callousness;

Giving not taking;

Magnanimity not meanness;

Love not enmity.

So what does this have to do with our national day of love?

In my opinion, a great deal.

In all things great and small, Lincoln gives us a blueprint of what America is on its best day.  He reminds us of what we can be at our very best, and it’s all about love of country, love of our neighbors, compassion for those who are hurting, and tolerance for those who are different.

You may not find specific quotations from Lincoln about love, but you can find many examples of his kind and gentle heart reaching out to help others in need, and his steadfast determination to preserve the union and promote equal opportunity for everyone.

Of all the lines he authored, this is his most inspirational thought for me:

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have.”

And what animates that light?


Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara: A Classic Face of America

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara: A Woman of Character, Leadership and Responsibility

Written by Tony Mussari
and Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2012
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

The uniform does not take away heart. VADM Sally Brice-O’Hara

A Woman with a Purpose

This is a story about Rear Admiral Sally Brice O’Hara, an impressive woman by any standard. She is a woman who knows something about leadership. She is a leader who knows something about compassion and service. For 38 years she has served her country in 19 different assignments in the United States Coast Guard.

Kitch and I met Sally Brice-O’Hara in 2001 at Training Center Cape May. We were there to produce a program for our series, Windsor Park Stories. It was one of the best days of our career.

Sally was the Commanding Officer of Training Center Cape May.  She was generous with her time, and every one of her associates helped us with our work. We did not know it when we arrived, but before the visit ended we received a crash course in leadership from a woman whose friendship we earned that day.

Quiet and determined by nature, Sally took us on a walking tour of the training center. It is her style to demonstrate with acts of competence, kindness and thoughtfulness rather than embellish events and experiences with words. Watching her engage with the young men and women who would spend less than two months learning the code of conduct and the practices of the U.S. Coast Guard, three things were obvious. This was a woman who loved her job. This was a woman who enjoyed all the responsibilities that came with the job. This was a woman who did her job well. 

The Admiral’s Rules

During her interview, the person who was about to become the second female Admiral in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard talked about the values that helped her earn that honor.

She identified honesty, integrity and responsibility as the most important values she learned at home from her parents and as a child growing up with a love of horses and all things equestrian.

When she entered the Coast Guard after college, she found these values to be aligned with the core values that are proudly displayed on bulkheads around the training center: Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty.

She was emphatic about one point.  Character does count.  It is the foundation that will last a lifetime, and it is essential to leading a good life.

She also stressed the importance of teamwork, and she made a very compelling point when she said, “I must live by these standards when I am in uniform and when I am on liberty.”

Over the years, Admiral Brice-O’Hara has taught these values as a leader, a mentor, a crisis manager and a friend.

During an interview with Veronique Freeman, she shared these thoughts:

Accountability is a vital component of leadership: accountability to one’s self, accountability to others, and accountability to the organization.

First, we should be true to ourselves, doing everything to the best of our ability. This
includes being humble enough to speak up and ask for advice when we need it – and to include others in the solution.

Second, we should always look after people who work for us, making sure they have everything they need to do their jobs well: the right equipment, adequate resources, clear policy and guidance, and strong TTP (Training, Techniques, and Procedures).

Third, we must strive to be the stellar Coast Guard men and women who wear the
uniform and represent the Coast Guard to the world – and to do so with very highest standards of drive, determination, success, and trustworthiness.


RADM Brice-O’Hara has very strong feelings about mentoring.  In an interview in 2009, she explained the benefits of mentoring:

My mentors contributed to my achievements with encouragement and timely advice, such as pointing me to specific things that could help expand my professional knowledge. They gave me tips on applicable courses, books and articles to read; some pushed me to seek collateral duties that would broaden my experience.

I attempt to do the same for the men and women that I mentor. Instead of focusing just on what they know, I try to open their perspectives and nudge them to things they may not have considered. Helping them understand and effectively use policies, identifying ways to take advantage of applicable tools the Service offers, or simply listening and providing a venue for venting are ways that I add value in the mentor-mentee relationship. Mentoring allows for some pretty frank conversation, which is healthy and should lead to better understanding about issues of concern.

And it works two ways, because as a mentor, generally to a more junior person, I benefit from hearing how Coast Guard policies and initiatives are received…was it as the organization intended, or were there unexpected consequences that necessitate further action by decision-makers?

…mentoring is a great way to further reinforce and embed values and principles among our fellow Guardians.

Leadership with Gratitude  

Kitch and I ended our Windsor Park Story about Sally Brice-O’Hara with this thought:

For the young men and women who join the United States Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara is an example they all should imitate. As long as there are people like Sally Brice-O’Hara in the service of America our homeland will be secure.

It was 2002, and a wonderful friendship was about to begin. During the past ten years, it has grown in many human and qualitative ways since we produced Making Waves:Rear Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara.

Kitch and I admire her attention to detail, her high expectations and standards, her respect for the dignity of the individual, her sense of reciprocity, her loyalty to friends and family.

She is a leader who never lost her sense of roots and her ability to connect with people from all walks of life. One of her most compelling characteristics is her genuine affection and appreciation for her parents, her husband and her children. She always gave them credit for their invaluable help and life-sustaining support

Sally Brice-O’Hara is a gratitude person with a heart of gold. She cares about people, and that may be her greatest strength.

In more ways than words can describe, she is an inspirational and memorable Face of America on its best day.  Every day of her service to America was a good day for America. She brought people together.  She helped people develop their talents. She affirmed the people on her team and she looked after people in a way that enabled them to find the best edition of themselves.

Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara lived what she taught. She enabled the success of others because it is fundamental to good leadership.

Those of us who are fortunate to know her, work with her, and serve America with her are better people because of her friendship and leadership.

This month, Admiral Brice-O’Hara will retire from the Coast Guard. When she leaves her office for the last time, the words of Isaiah will apply to her leadership and her service:

She can “Go out with joy and be led forth with peace.” She never let the uniform take away her heart.

Thank you Sally for showing us the way to become better people, and better Americans.

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