Cultivating Goodness


Call me naïve or unrealistic, but I believe that we get what we put out there. When our intentions are pure and meant to serve the greater good, on balance we’ve made a positive ripple in the universe that will be repaid. The best leaders don’t expect something good to come back, but it tends to happen anyway.

In other words, when you sincerely express goodness, it comes back to you. When you are intentional, you can learn to cultivate and express grace that is returned to you by others. It can be hard, but possible when you:

Forgive others mistakes: Holding a grudge is far too easy. Forgiving is much more difficult. Yet when you learn to forgive mistakes (and even shortcomings), you model it for others to follow. That’s what makes you a leader – you lead, they follow. Forgiveness, although not in your job description, is something you must learn to have a healthy organization.

Accept responsibility: Looking to blame or avoiding the stuff that’s hard to do is common. You are the leader, and you must model the “can do” attitude of putting your stake in the ground and figuring out what YOU can do to make the situation work. When things aren’t as they should be, look inside and ask, “what can I do?” – I’m sure you’ll find the right answers.

Feel grateful: Remember to be thankful for the gift of being able to lead others. It is a great privilege and responsibility, but when done well, the rewards are also great. While you’re at it, express gratitude at every opportunity to those whom you serve; they don’t always have it easy either.

Be inclusive: Be vigilant that you don’t become the tyrant who is calling the shots from on high. Genuinely ask others for their input into decisions, plans and actions that will impact them. Expect that they will be thoughtful and wise in how they respond, and they will.

Give credit: Give credit to others, even when you’d like to have the spotlight. If you’ve done your job of leading well, you know that the credit for all that goes well belongs to those who’ve supported the cause of your organization. Say it out loud, to them and to anyone who will listen. Help your followers to feel proud for a job well done.

Be human: Accept that you aren’t perfect, and admit your failings. A special leader I know once said “a little bit of vulnerability goes a long way”. Humility is a catalyst for great leadership. As long as you know that you are fallible, you will be open to new learning and ideas.

Serve and lift others up: Leading others isn’t about “you”, it’s about “us”. Watch for the barriers that get in the way of your team’s best work, and then work hard to remove them. Remind your team of what they do well, and reward them for it. Use criticism sparingly.

When you put goodness out there, it comes back to you. Make an impact and watch goodness ripple throughout your organization.


I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

One comment on “Cultivating Goodness

  1. Mary Jo,
    If what you share is naive, then I, too, am naive. I love your message and glad to see that you’re starting with forgiveness.

    Good read for leaders and employees.


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