Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Why not use this time at home to grow professionally? Our senior leadership team at GSI would like to share with you their favorite professional development books. Whether you choose to read them on your own or with friends and coworkers as a part of a virtual book club, each of these books is a great way to help make connections to your professional development goals.

Check out the list below – one of them may become your next favorite!

DENNIS R. MAPLE, President and CEO

Jack: Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch

Book cover for Jack straight from the gut by Jack Welch

Straight from the Gut provides leaders with a roadmap for building great teams by ensuring their people are the central focus. While the book is about 20 years old, the lessons around holding people accountable to perform as agreed to and constantly looking to upgrade the team through development and recruitment of talent remains true today. It’s a good read and much of the data and insights on people leadership are still relevant today.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

Book cover for The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

According to Dennis, if you haven’t read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team yet you may want to! This book is about teams identifying and confronting unproductive leadership behaviors that impede the execution of company goals and long-term sustainable, predictable success. The book is a quick read and it provides examples of very common dysfunctional behaviors that must be addressed before a team can become a high-performing and consistently deliver expected results and outcomes.

Execution The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan

Book cover for Execution The Discipline of Getting Things Done

In this book, Bossidy and Charan explain that great companies that achieve their goals focus on three pillars: strategy, people and operational plans. They delve into the importance of these three pillars, how they’re linked and how companies can succeed when all three are balanced. The book also offers insight on how organizational leaders can benefit from being linked to performers throughout the organization and how accountability is tied into performance, rewards and compensation.

CHRISTINA ESTRADA, SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer

First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

Book cover for First, Break all the Rules

As an HR professional, Christina says this book shattered several paradigms that she had learned about how to best manage people. Four key elements emerged from the research on what great managers do:

  • Select for talent beyond just experience, intelligence or determination;
  • Define the right outcomes, not the right steps;
  • Focus on strengths, not weaknesses when motivating people;
  • Help find the right fit, not simply the next rung on a ladder when developing people.

The best managers “manage by exception” and don’t treat people how managers want to be treated, rather how their people want to be treated.

BOB SCOPINICH, SVP, Chief Financial Officer 

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries by Peter Sims

Book cover for Little Bets by Peter Sims

 This book explains the importance of gradual improvement and constant innovation through lots of little failures and small wins.

Like most books about business, there are great stories and examples from big organizations, but Little Bets goes beyond solely focusing on companies. There are examples of Chris Rock working on new material, General McMaster developing counter-insurgency tactics and Frank Gehry designing buildings. Bob felt that the variety of examples made for a more interesting read than the average business book.

 CHRIS MALONE, EVP, Chief Growth and Strategy Officer

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Book cover for Start with Why by Simon Sinek 



In this book, the author argues that customers don’t buy or become loyal to WHAT companies make or sell but rather to WHY they do it. Successful companies attract loyal customers because their missions, purpose and intentions show customers that they are honorable and trustworthy. Sinek’s message encourages brands to focus on defining their mission and purpose (the why) before focusing on the products or services they will sell (the what).

 Give and Take by Adam Grant

Book cover for How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Written by world famous psychologist and tenured Wharton School professor Adam Grant, Give and Take draws on extensive research to determine the success levels of three types of people: givers, takers and matchers. He ultimately determines that givers are generally the most successful and influential people because they freely provide more assistance and support than they receive while generally expecting nothing in return. Be sure to check this book out if you’re looking for fascinating insight into the how workplace personalities and relationships influence personal and professional success.

 MELISSA MILLER, VP, Digital Marketing

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Book cover for Mendela's Way by Richard Stengel

Melissa says this classic book is her all-time career favorite due to its focus on interactions with people not only in the workplace but also in everyday life. It was one of the first books she read in her career to help her understand the importance of how to treat colleagues and others in her sphere. Although the book has been around for a while, Melissa believes the practices readers can learn from it are still relevant today.

Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Working with Emotional Intelligence

Developing a strong emotional intelligence, or EQ, is key for effective leaders. This book talks about the techniques and skills that draw EQ into the workforce. Melissa says she believes leaders must be sure to look at the total person and what is happening in the person’s everyday life to understand what makes him or her work best. This book reveals that by focusing on EQ, leaders can use empathy to help others and defuse conflict.

JULIE TREON, VP, Strategic Planning and Communications

Mandela’s Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage by Richard Stengel

JULIE TREON, VP, Strategic Planning and Communications

This compact book offers a deeply inspiring look at an extraordinary statesman, leader and human being – Nelson Mandela. In Mandela’s Way, Stengel does an amazing job of exploring the experiences and complexities of this leader and then sharing the wisdom learned through 15 lessons that range from leading from the front – and back – and the importance of finding ways to instill joy and peace within our lives to the importance of recognizing that the answers to life’s most important questions are rarely yes or no. I turn to this book often for inspiration and insight.

The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey

Book cover for The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey

This is a compelling read not just for business leaders but for everyone as individuals. The principles shared in this book, if applied, can yield wonderful benefits for both our personal and professional relationships. Covey’s book is comprehensive but practical in the advice it conveys. In particular, this engaging book compels its readers to go deeply into the agendas of our hearts and to honestly recognize the impact this has on our behavior. This is a memorable read that will change the way you engage with others.

Another day of training logo with computer

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, businesses all over the world had to figure out how to modify their processes quickly while continuing to move forward.

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI) employees were at the forefront of these changes, ensuring we were meeting the needs of our learners while keeping attendee interactions strong. Pre-pandemic, we conducted in-person training sessions for new franchisees and School education directors. With everyone socially distancing, GSI swiftly adapted to this rapidly changing new environment. Tracey Grill, the GSU trainer-onboarding, and Donna Crosson, the corporate franchise trainer, stepped in to guide the Goddard system through this transition. “I have the greatest job in the world,” Donna said. Donna used her training experience and expertise to guide the team and assist them in tapping into that passion and enthusiasm in order to create powerful virtual training tools for new franchisees and directors.

What We’re Doing Differently 

Without a classroom environment, the team focused on finding ways to connect with franchisees digitally. They found that using a well-balanced mix of different platforms in conjunction with face-to-face virtual meetings helped recreate the feel of the in-person classroom. They also introduced a mix of interactive icebreakers and activities to keep the learners engaged during training while helping them make vital connections with one another.

It is a people-first approach. Participants come with varied professional experiences that impact how they receive and retain information. The team connects with the participants first, which informs how technology is used to deliver content. Franchisees must walk away with the tools they need to be able to hit the ground running when their Schools open and need to feel like they’re truly part of the Goddard family. They can then carry the same kind of familial atmosphere into their Schools.

What Our Challenges Were and How We Overcame Them 

Of course, this new way of doing things wasn’t without its speed bumps. For example, with franchisees tuning into training remotely from all over the country, connectivity issues can sometimes arise. The team ensures that all the franchisees have dial-in options and hard copy materials available if they aren’t able to access the training digitally.

There’s also the matter of the dreaded meeting fatigue, which can set in when conducting online meetings. To minimize this, the training team strategically schedules the flow and timing of the training sessions to make them more digestible while giving the franchisees a break to absorb the information they learn. Learning activities are also carefully planned to maximize opportunities to interact with the presenters and one another.

Speaking of information, Donna coordinates with various subject matter experts to ensure virtual delivery tips and tricks are shared with the entire training team. After each session, the feedback informs adjustments that can be made to enhance the experience. Continuous improvement is always at the forefront to ensure the most impactful learning experience for participants.

What We’ve Learned and How We’re Moving Forward 

The main takeaway that Donna, Tracey and the team of presenters learned from this experience is that while face-to-face training is preferred, virtual training can be just as successful and fun. It has also forced them to think outside the box to find new, creative ways to connect with franchisees through interactive activities. They plan to continue to use those activities to link each phase of training to the next while continuing to use self-study assignments to bridge the gap between training sessions. In true Goddard Systems fashion, virtual training has been a perfect example of how learning opportunities can be found anywhere – even in the comfort of your home.


Black History Month Betsey Stockton and the Perry Preschool Project image

At GSI, we are always working to provide the very best in early childhood education. For Black History Month, we are highlighting Betsey Stockton, a pioneer of adaptive teaching, and the Perry Preschool Project, a groundbreaking education research study. Stockton and the Perry Preschool Project had the same goal: finding a way to provide children with the best learning experiences.

Betsey Stockton: Pioneer of Early Childhood Education

Betsey Stockton’s work as a missionary kickstarted her involvement in early childhood education. Born into slavery in New Jersey in 1798, she was taught to read and expressed her desire to become a missionary when she was about 20 years old. When Betsey was freed in the 1820s, she went to Hawaii to fulfill this dream and launch her teaching career.

In Hawaii, Betsey taught at the mission school, educating both local and missionary children using the monitorial method, according to a National Association for the Education of Young Children article. This teaching method grouped children by ability, and more experienced students, known as monitors, led the groups.

Betsey returned to the East Coast, and in 1828 she was recruited by the Infant School Society of Philadelphia to teach at a new infant school, where teachers would educate young children using a combination of play and learning activities based on observing objects or studying picture cards. To prepare for the position, Betsey trained in New York. When she returned to Philadelphia, she started what would become a successful infant school for African American students. Due to her expertise, Betsey was soon asked to train teachers to educate Ojibwa students at a mission site on Grape Island in Canada. Betsey’s work here would serve as a blueprint for other mission schools in the area.

Betsey then taught at the Witherspoon Street School for Colored Children in Princeton for nearly 30 years. To honor her inspiring work, Princeton University named a garden after Betsey in 2018, saying, “Given the many lives she nurtured over the course of her courageous life, we believe it is fitting that she be commemorated in a garden that we hope will be a place of beauty and reflection for both town and gown.”

The Perry Preschool Project

This 1960s research study only lasted a few years, but the results showed that the right kind of education can benefit children for the rest of their lives. From 1962 to 1967, David Weikart, a psychologist, and Charles Eugene Beatty, the principal of Perry Elementary School in Ypsilanti, MI, worked together to create a program that would bolster the cognitive skills of disadvantaged African American children.

The program selected African American children from three to four years old and randomly assigned them either to a control group that received no pre-k education or an intervention group. Teachers worked with the students in the intervention group every day on planning and executing tasks and then reviewing the results. The intentional teaching strategy they used ultimately showed long-term positive results. The researchers followed the children into adulthood, and they found that the intervention students were more likely to have attained higher levels of education with fewer suspensions, were more likely to be employed and were less likely to commit crimes than the members of the control group.

A summary of the findings by the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, the organization behind the project, concluded that “all young children living in low-income families should have access to preschool programs that have features that are reasonably similar to those of the High/Scope Perry Preschool Program.”

James Heckman, a Nobel laureate, an economist and the current head of Perry Preschool research, said the program saw success because it could “activate the spark” of learning in the students while also engaging their parents, according to The Hechinger Report.

A Lasting Legacy

Betsey Stockton and the Perry Preschool Project have been instrumental in shaping early childcare education. At GSI, we are inspired by education leaders, and we are grateful to the educators who help children create brighter futures.

Christina Estrada

We are proud to announce Christina Estrada as Vice President of Human Resources.  Christina is a seasoned human resources leader with experience in human capital management across multiple industries. In this new role, she will be responsible for talent acquisition, performance management, benefits and compensation, talent development, and more.

“GSI is consistently named as one of the best places to work in Philadelphia, and I am excited to further drive this positive culture for employees,” said Estrada. “My first order of business will be to meet the unique team members of GSI and find ways to continue fueling their passion for the company.”

Prior to joining GSI, Estrada held a variety of HR executive leadership positions with Fortune 500 companies, including Aramark, Time Warner, America Online, Disney Consumer Products, and Citibank. Most recently, she was the Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for TIAA Bank, where she led the cultural integration and transition of all human capital processes, systems, and policies during its acquisition of EverBank. Estrada is passionate and committed to ensuring an inclusive workplace, and she provides ongoing leadership and advocacy to an organization’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Estrada holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Arizona and a certificate in HR Strategy from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations where she has also been a guest lecturer. She was named one of Hispanic Business magazine’s “100 Most Influential Hispanics” in 2011.

Welcome to the team, Christina!

Plaque on building for Monal B Patel

Bhavesh Patel has been working toward his goal of opening his Goddard School located in Granger, IN for three years, in memory of his late wife.

>>>Read more of the story here<<<

Portrait photo of woman
Janice Kennedy, owner of The Goddard School located in Olathe (Northwest), KS, reflects upon how her six years in the US Army Reserve prepared her for owning a Goddard franchise in this fascinating article for Authority Magazine.


In his latest contribution to Forbes, Paul examines the role public relations plays in this new era of media.


Owner and director working

Franchisees like Priya Punugoti, owner of the newest Goddard School located in Lewisville, TX, exemplify the type of ambitious, altruistic entrepreneur that the brand attracts.


Two people whispering while man signs paper

If we’re honest, most of us privately wonder if those we lead are being straight with us –especially when it comes to how they feel about our leadership.  (Yes, some leaders worry too little about this!). I recently observed a Town Hall meeting where a new leader had just been promoted to run his division.  In his introductory remarks, many – including me – were struck by his declaration, “One of the things you’ll find is that I’m very self-aware and open to feedback.”  At the back of the room where I stood, I could see the rolling eyes.

Over my 30 year career working with leaders, I’ve heard many declare such self-enlightenment. Borrowing Margaret Thatcher’s observation, if you have to declare you are self-aware, you’re not. It’s been nearly two decades since John Kotter’s landmark study revealing that effective managers know the impact of their decisions on others. But since then, subsequent research suggests that our level of self-awareness hasn’t improved all that much.

In the case of the speaker, I introduced myself after his remarks, and asked him, “So what have you done to become so self-aware and open to feedback?”  Proudly, he responded, “I make it a priority to get a 360 feedback review every year.”  I probed further, “And what kinds of things have you been able to improve in your leadership as a result of all that feedback?”   With remarkable sincerity, he said, “Well, for example, last year I received feedback that our staff meetings were too long so I shortened them by 30 minutes.”  I now fully appreciated all of those rolling eyes.

It turns out, you don’t need to collect formal 360 feedback to learn how others are experiencing you . I’ve observed leaders who genuinely care about how others experience them consistently do the following four things to stay sharply in tune with how their influence is landing on those around them.

Ask for pushback. The basic skill leaders need to keep intentions aligned with impact is the ability to credibly solicit dissent and feedback.  Whether in meetings, or one on one, insights about how others experience you are revealed in the degree to which they feel comfortable pushing back when what they experience doesn’t sit well. If you don’t have people routinely offering dissenting ideas, or raising concerns about actions you are contemplating or have taken, you should worry. No news is not necessarily good news.  After meetings where particularly difficult issues or decisions are discussed, one leader I work with asks a few members of her team, “How do you feel that went, and what could I have done differently?”  Her team has come to realize she genuinely wants pushback and accepts it graciously.  The ability to initiate such conversations is at the heart of receiving honest feedback. Too many 360 feedback processes have become replacements for great conversations instead of instigators of them, because they allow people to hide behind the anonymity of the tool.  But effective leaders simply ask for that feedback on a regular basis in more intimate settings where the conversation can enhance the relationship.  .

Read cues and faces.  The greatest “mirror” reflecting back how others experience you are the faces of those around you.  If you learn to read them, they can provide a steady stream of useful feedback about how your words and actions are being metabolized.  When people look down or avoid eye-contact with you, when otherwise engaging colleagues suddenly become quiet, or when normally even-keeled colleagues get defensive, pay attention.  While people may withhold verbal feedback, their faces and bodies will often tell a different story. Don’t ignore these critical cues. Offer your observation graciously. I observed one leader do this masterfully.  When moods or countenance took a sudden shift, he would simply ask things like, “Tell me how I should interpret your silence,” or “You suddenly seem to not want to look directly at me. I’m concerned something I’ve said isn’t sitting well. Can you help me understand if that’s true?”  These tactful observations invited others to share what was happening internally, and in turn, helped the leader adjust.  Allan and Barbara Pease, in their landmark book, The Definitive Book of Body Language, suggest that because more than 65% of interpersonal communication is non-verbal, spotting the contradictions between someone’s words and body language will dramatically increase your ability to accurately perceive. There’s a wealth of calibrating feedback all around you reflecting back how your words and actions are being received. If you harness it, you’ll not only sharpen the connection between your intent and impact, you’ll deepen the trust between you and others as they observe you changing behavior based on what you learn.

Monitor how you narrate the story.  Leaders are notoriously bad observers of their own reality.  Absent a way to calibrate, we are naturally inclined to interpret how things are going in overly positive ways. Pay attention to your inner narration of what’s happening around you.  If that voice is working to convince you things are fine, step back and re-assess.  Beware too many self-generated messages that sound like, “You know, I think that presentation went really well…so what if they didn’t have any questions,” or “Don’t worry, they understand that you get a little impatient sometimes, but they know it’s because you really care,” or “I can’t believe they think I’m indecisive! You can’t rush the creative process!”  When the voice in your head is working to self-justify or self-sooth, hear it as an alarm indicating you are likely working with incomplete data.  The alternative narrations can be equally destructive.  The harsh voice that criticizes, “You idiot – did you really just say that to your boss?” or “Nobody is going to take you seriously” can be equally faulty. If your narrator’s voice leans to heavily in one direction, force yourself to consider what interpretations you could be missing to develop a more balanced perspective.

Know and permit others to name triggers.  All leaders have buttons that get pushed, and when they do, trigger unproductive behavior.  Some leaders react defensively when confronted with mistakes.  Others become sarcastic or passive-aggressive when they don’t get their way.  And some become harshly impatient when things don’t move quickly enough.  Whatever they are, self-aware leaders know their triggers, and let others name them. One leader I worked with became painfully verbose when he was anxious.  During meetings where contentious issues were being discussed, he would launch into lengthy diatribes in an unconscious effort to calm his discomfort with conflict.  One of the ways he worked to improve was acknowledging that he was aware he did it (which his team greatly appreciated). He asked them to simply hold up their hands when they felt he’d gone on too long.  The first few times people raised their hands, he struggled to shut up. Someone on the team finally said, “If you want us to help you stop rambling, you have to agree to actually stop talking when we raise our hands.”  He did.  He eventually learned brevity, and to emotionally prepare before meetings by writing out concise statements he could employ as needed. Great leaders also apologize when triggered, cleaning up emotional messes.  So if you aren’t regularly apologizing for moments when your triggers get the best of you, chances are you aren’t aware of what they are, or don’t see the painful repercussions they leave behind.

Knowing how others experience you is fundamental to influencing effectively.  Assuming that you’d “just know” if others were bothered by something you were doing, or that because you’re a “good person,” others are giving you the benefit of the doubt, are dangerously presumptuous approaches.  You don’t need a formal 360 process to find out how others experience you. Rest assured, your people are talking about you. You should get in on the conversation. And, pay attention to, and act upon, all of the data you are already getting.


This article was written by Ron Carucci from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Blank Black Image

5 Ways to Make Your Employees Happier in 2019

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Woman working on laptop smiling

It’s no secret that a happy workforce is a loyal, motivated one. If you have reason to believe that your employees aren’t all that satisfied with their work experiences, it’s critical that you focus on addressing the issue immediately.

With the current strong job market, there’s a world of opportunity for your most valued players to take their talents elsewhere if they’re not content where they are. Here are a few things that you, as a business owner or manager, can do in the new year to raise your employees’ satisfaction quotient and entice them to stay on board.

1. Give them a voice

We all have opinions, ideas, and concerns — in life and at work. And it’s important to make your employees feel like the things they say are taken seriously, whether you’re talking about a senior manager or an entry-level administrative assistant. If you send the message that everyone is welcome to share thoughts freely, your workers will feel more valued and respected.

2. Be generous with time off

U.S. companies are notoriously stingy when it comes to paid time off — so much so that 73% of workers would welcome more time off over a holiday bonus, according to LinkedIn. By giving employees ample opportunity to recharge, pursue hobbies, and take care of life’s many obligations, you’ll make their jobs less stressful in the process.

3. Offer some scheduling leeway

An estimated 70% of U.S. employees are dissatisfied with their work-life balance, according to FlexJobs. If you want your workers’ outlooks to improve, think about the different ways you can offer them more flexibility on an ongoing basis.

This could involve letting them set their own working hours (within reason) or allowing those whose jobs can be done remotely to work from home. Extending that courtesy shows that you respect and acknowledge the fact that your employees have lives outside the office, and if you give them enough leeway, they’ll not only grow more content, but most likely return the favor by being flexible when you need it.

4. Be more available

If you own or manage a business, your days are probably jampacked with more tasks and meetings than you can count. And while you can’t necessarily take the time to sit down with each of your employees on a daily basis, you should make a point of being available when workers are struggling or encounter pressing issues that warrant your attention. To that end, encourage employees to reach out and ask for guidance, as needed, so they don’t feel like they have to handle their challenges alone.

5. Foster career development

Nobody wants to feel stuck in a dead-end job. If you want your employees to feel better about coming to work, give them something to look forward to. Allow lower-level employees to shadow higher-ups to learn the ropes and dabble in new things. When possible, give your workers time off for professional development, whether in the form of taking classes or attending industry conferences. If you show your workers that you’re looking to help them grow, they might get more excited about the potential your company has to offer.

Happy employees tend to be loyal employees. If you want to retain your staff in the coming year, focus on making their work experiences more satisfying. It’s certainly a worthwhile investment.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


This article was written by Maurie Backman from The Motley Fool and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Blank Black Image