What Great Leaders are Saying about Gracious Leadership: Lead Like You’ve Never Led Before (Advance Praise)

“Janet Meeks tells a personal, clearly articulated story of learning and practicing ‘Gracious Leadership’ and its central importance to mission success.  Hers is a timeless, head and heart journey that reveals a path for all of us.”

C. Robert Kidder, director, Merck & Co.; former board chairman, Chrysler; former lead director, Morgan Stanley; former CEO, Duracell; former CEO, Borden Inc.

Gracious Leadership, by Janet Smith Meeks, shares the powerful, personal examples of how passionate, brave, courageous and communicative leaders deliver tremendous value to all their constituencies and are truly the recipe for organizational and personal success!”

Kerrii B. Anderson, former president & CEO, Wendy’s International; corporate director, Worthington Industries and Labcorp; chairman, Elon University

“Continuous learning is not always about learning something new, but reminding yourself of the important things you may have forgotten. Seasoned leaders who read Gracious Leadership and utilize the Conversation Starters will help refresh and refine their own leadership competencies and create a great learning experience for their teams.

When I talk with folks about what I have learned over the years, I always tell them they should handle disappointments with grace as it will be remembered and pay dividends in the future. Janet’s book reminds me there are many other opportunities where grace can be applied to everyone’s advantage. 

Janet’s comments that great leaders recognize they don’t have all the answers are spot on. They are not afraid to ask the people who do have the answers the right questions, no matter what level these folks may be. And when they ask, Gracious Leaders listen like no one else is in the room.”

Mike Kaufmann, CEO Cardinal Health, a Fortune 100 company

“Gracious Leadership is more than a book, it is a case study of one individual—the author, who describes her experiences from childhood and family values to the impact family values had on a career in both the financial and health care industries. A successful and remarkable CEO, the author emphasizes, that the basic principles of Gracious Leadership are transferrable regardless of corporate, organizational or even government focus. Perhaps, and most importantly, the author provides insights as to why some leaders miss the mark.

Janet Meeks has blessed us with a documentary, a guideline, a new label and introduction of a completely new description of the attributes of Gracious Leadership. Regardless of position, title or responsibility, or even type of organization, I find this work to be more than insightful.

Early in my reading, I knew I had to complete this work when I noted the following words from the author: ‘I believe teams of all types within all industries and organizations can reap great rewards from displaying gracious and respectful behaviors as they seek to optimize their collective performance. This holds true at home, on the basketball court, in the C-Suite, or in the Boardroom.’ The preceding words clearly established that Gracious Leadership is about a focus on people, the people within the organization who ultimately make the organization what it is or becomes.

I wish I had this work many years ago. Janet Meeks has given us a glimpse at her life journey and the 13 attributes of Gracious Leadership in a learning and teachable format. This work goes beyond the definitions and principles of leadership described in Jim Collins’ legendary work Good to Great first released in 2001. This work is a must read for all who really believe that we, as individuals and organizations, succeed via the quality and excellence in how we serve and recognize others for the contributions they make!”

John Fleming, Author, Consultant and Speaker; former Publisher/Editor-In-Chief of Direct Selling News; former senior executive of Avon Products, Inc.

“Gracious Leadership: Lead Like You’ve Never Led Before provides invaluable insights into leadership—real and true leadership. The Key Ingredients shared by Janet are precisely those required for GREAT leadership. Whether you are just beginning your journey to become a world class leader or you have many years in your role as a leader, Janet’s insights are inspiring and remind us all what is important in developing ourselves to our fullest potential.

I have been blessed to know Janet for many years. She is impressive beyond words, brilliant, compassionate and someone who truly cares for others. Janet’s spirit and affirmation of her undying FAITH are both humble and bold. She continues to be an amazing role model to many. I am honored to be one of many people who has benefitted from her wisdom. Enjoy Gracious Leadership. A world full of gracious leaders—Janet’s aspiration—would make our organizations and communities a wonderful place. Let’s all lead like we never have led before—starting today.”

Dwight Smith, Servant Leader, chairman & CEO, Sophisticated Systems, Inc.; founder, My Special Word

“In corporate America’s drive for growth and profit, many organizations have created a workforce of the ‘walking wounded.’ Employees within these companies leave their souls at the front door and steel themselves against daily insults, indifference and condescending behavior from executives and managers entrusted to lead them. There simply is a better way. Employees thirst for compassionate leadership that honors rather than strips them of their dignity—the kind of leadership that Janet Meeks masterfully details in Gracious Leadership. In this book Janet shares leadership strategies that can deliver exceptional results by transforming companies with toxic cultures into high performing organizations driven by engaged employees who are walking tall!”

Barbara J. Smoot, CEO, WELD (Women for Economic and Leadership Development); commissioner, Columbus Women’s Commission; corporate director, National Church Residences; former vice president, Nationwide Financial

“Readers may be easily overwhelmed by the hundreds of leadership books with catchy titles lining the shelves of bookstores these days. With the publication of Gracious Leadership: Lead Like You’ve Never Led Before, Janet Meeks has made a unique contribution to the collection. Her description of the key ingredients of Gracious Leadership draws not only from the research literature but from the personal stories (hers and others) of successful leaders. Her treatment is ‘elegant in its simplicity.’ Although it may seem simplistic to say that effective leaders demonstrate both ‘head and heart’ competencies, Janet provides the reader with true stories of how this dynamic duo looks in action!

Gracious Leadership is an easy read of complex issues. One cannot help but become personally engaged in each short, crisp chapter. I recommend that this book be required reading for graduate students in healthcare administration, MBA students focusing on healthcare, mid-career healthcare professionals who are transitioning into leadership roles from clinical and/or business roles, and those ‘high potentials’ who have been identified in their organizations as having growth opportunities in their organizations. Upon reflection, I think that leaders at every career stage will take a step forward by not only reading the book but applying the Conversation Starters that the author includes after each chapter.”

Peter J. Giammalvo, PhD, leadership & talent management consultant; retired healthcare executive-in-residence and visiting professor, College of Health Sciences & Professions, Ohio University; former Chief Learning Officer, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Gracious Leadership provides golden opportunities for any leader to be set apart in today’s competitive landscape.  Through applying these important leadership lessons such as walking in the shoes of those who follow you and matching passion with purpose, you can lead your team to deliver peak performance results for your business and your customers.”

Cindy Monroe, founder & CEO, Thirty-One Gifts

Book Reviews

“Look up the word ‘gracious’ and you will find synonyms such as courteous, civil, merciful, compassionate and kind. While those words might not be the first that come to mind when we think of our leaders today, don’t they describe what we all really want in a leader? In her new book, Gracious Leadership, Janet Smith Meeks helps readers understand thirteen key ingredients necessary to lead graciously and to have a positive and lifelong impact on their people and organizations.”

“First, readers get to know the author as Janet not only shares the routine facts of her upbringing, education and early career but also a very personal and powerful story that illustrates the impact of another leader’s gracious leadership on her life. This event helped Janet form her overall philosophy of the head-heart connection in leader behaviors. Employing terrific story-telling skills to illustrate her leadership principles, readers are all in by chapter four, when the thirteen ingredients instruction begins in earnest.”

“What better way for leaders to start the new year than by investing in their own development? Reading and reflecting on the thirteen key ingredients of gracious leadership will help you lead your team more effectively and be a positive impact on your organization as a whole. Read and study Gracious Leadership and you will ‘lead like you’ve never led before!'”

Eleanor E. Biddulph, Leading Fully Present Consulting

Gracious Leadership is a practical book written by an experienced healthcare executive who has led organizational change. The book is “heavy” in content but a quick read. It would be an excellent preassignment for an executive or leadership retreat or a Leadership Development Institute. The Conversation Starters at the end of each chapter will help the reader ascertain how best to apply the learning. I found the emphasis on accountability and ownership were much more practical and focused than many publications I’ve read on servant leadership.” Read the full review…

Lynne Cunningham, Studer Group