Friday, December 13, 2013 - 1-2 PM ET
Innovation and Resilience in Leadership
Guests: Martha Johnson and Sharon Benjamin
Martha's Placemat (pdf)
1800 F - GSA Images (pdf)
In her new book, On My Watch, Leadership, Innovation, and Personal Resilience, Martha Johnson, former administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, tells of the strategic innovation that characterized her tenure before her abrupt resignation in the wake of a scandal regarding an internal training conference held in Las Vegas. The GSA influences all of government and can model desperately needed innovation, Johnson says, adding that the scandal headlines and political jokes shouldn't be the only public picture of GSA. Johnson's book details cutting edge improvement strategies she promoted, and the systemic challenges of leading a large agency—working without complete information, the distortions of scale, and the constraints of government service. She also reflects on her highly public resignation and the lessons she believes can help leaders advance innovation and shoulder risk.
Martha Johnson is leadership speaker and writer who draws on the lessons learned as an executive with a more than 30-year career in public and private organizations. Her focus is "Sensible Leadership" which reflects our current need for leaders who are strategic, resilient, pragmatic, and resourceful. She was nominated by President Obama and confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate to be the administrator of the GSA, a post she held for two years. She also served eight years with the Clinton Administration and was appointed to two commissions with the British Government. Her private sector career has spanned the information technology, architecture, strategic consulting, and automotive industry. In addition to On My Watch, Johnson has also published a novel, In Our Midst, which placed in the semi-finals of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition. Johnson earned a BA from Oberlin College and an MBA from the Yale University School of Management. She is married, has two adult children, an elderly father, and lives in Annapolis, Maryland.
Sharon Benjamin, PhD is principal of Alchemy, a Washington D.C. based management consulting practice. She consults with multi-lateral, NGO and healthcare organizations. An adjunct at NYU, she teaches the leadership capstone course for MPA students. Her work supports leaders seeking to effect profound transformation -- within themselves and their organizations, pioneering innovative methods such as Positive Deviance. Her previous positions have included Vice President for Marketing for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in Washington, D.C. and Director for Major Gifts for the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge MA. She earned her doctorate in organizational behavior from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati OH, where she has co-taught three leadership seminars. She has been active in the non-profit community, serving as Treasurer of the Board Earthworks, Chair of the Board of Directors of Bluevoice.org, and a member of Oceana's Board of Governors.