Leading with Love


Dr. Brett Simmons, a tenured professor and blogging friend at the University of Nevada in Reno, has a group of MBA students who blog; many of whom add their wisdom to my posts by commenting on a regular basis. I asked if any of them would like guest post. This is the second guest post from one of those students.  

Kate Grey finds joy in creating adventurous marketing communications programs that produce results. Thanks to Lynn’s influence and the MBA program at the University of Nevada, Reno, she is now a student of leadership too and blogs at Grey Matter www.kategreysf.wordpress.com. I hope you’ll find her short post as powerful as I did, and visit her wonderful blog too.

The best leader I ever had told me she loved me.

For anyone who knows Lynn S. Atcheson professionally, that might be surprising. Lynn is a business powerhouse and steward of organizations that matter in our community. When I worked for her, she was vice president of marketing communications for the region’s largest health system. Lynn was the first woman to fill several key roles our state, including the first female appointee to the Nevada Commission on Economic Development and the first female president of Western Industrial Nevada, a prominent executive-networking group. She helped establish the region’s economic-development agency, EDAWN, back when Reno, and just about every other city its size, was very much an old-boys network.

Caring for the team pays off

Love is an unusual attitude in a business leader. In Lynn’s case, love expressed the central tenet of her personal leadership philosophy: servant leadership. She was there to care for me and my peers, to shepherd us, to give us wings and help us grow. The result was a tight-knit, high-performing team. With all her achievements in a male-dominated business world, Lynn loved us in a distinctly motherly fashion, as her daughters and sons, which is exactly how she expressed it in the one or two conversations we had about it.

Lynn truly believes in the value and purpose of leadership, and spent a lot of time studying leadership concepts and bringing them back to her staff to consider. As our servant, she did all the heavy lifting, reading books and vetting ideas, and then presenting them back to us for adoption. Lynn built trust in her day-to-day leadership behaviors and actions, which lead to truthful, impactful conversations where life’s most meaningful emotions could be expressed.

Of course, love is only a small aspect of why I respect Lynn so much. I’m still in awe of the many, many things Lynn’s achieved in our community. She was the founding president of Truckee Meadows Tomorrow, which measures progress on our region’s quality-of-life indicators, as well as the founding president of the Nevada Women’s Fund, which offers programs for women and children. Today, she’s a member of the board of trustees of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority and the board of directors of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, two key local agencies.

Lynn was, and still is, my archetype for leadership. I love her right back for that.


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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.

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