It’s rare that one can be introduced as a former vice chairman of Morgan Stanley, a gospel singer with a four-album discography, and a three-time author. But Carla Harris is the exception, not the rule. With her new book, “Lead to Win” out now, Harris is on a speaking tour and came to the District to share her book and message on leadership.

“There is a measure of creating the culture that happens with proximity,” Harris told The Informer,” proximity breeds familiarity, and familiarity fosters mentorship.”  

The message is timely, as Washingtonians face conversations surrounding unprecedented office building vacancies, hybrid working, as well as downtown office building conversions to residential. Harris is admittedly a proponent of in-person, but not to the exclusion of hybrid working environments. “It’s not an either-or type of thing,” Harris explained.  

“Leadership has transformed from oversight to insight,” Harris shared. Her philosophy marries experienced leaders, who are willing to share their hard-won experience, with the future leaders who are receptive to the soft-skills and insights which promote career development. This is the exchange.  

When asked about employees who elect to be fully remote, Harris cautioned that they may not be the right fit if they are not teachable. Conversely, Harris emphasized that an effective leader would inspire their people to come in person. The relationship is symbiotic.   

The tension between employees, preferring to work from home in sweatpants or work remotely on an island, and employers has come to a head. Some incentive must be presented to inspire employees to come into the office. The older methods, of exchanging compensation for oversight, are unattractive to today’s employees. 

Harris acknowledged this tension with her assessment of leadership’s psyche, “people who are in the seats of leadership are boomers and beyond, and they grew up in a very different leadership context.” The ‘my way or the highway’ attitude does not work for millennials and they, “demand, as table stakes, transparency, inclusivity and feedback.”  

“Lead to Win,” is a concise and charismatic effort that promotes leadership reflection. 

While the book stems from Harris’s experience in the financial sector, it may be applied in any sector. The principles embedded are essential for organizational development across the public and private sectors. 

To learn more about how Harris achieved this outcome, secure a copy online or locally at Mahogany Books.

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