Pearls of Leadership Wisdom

Pragmatic, practical and immediately useful, Pearls of Leadership Wisdom provide leaders at all levels with a fresh perspective on ways to potentially lead better. Based on lessons learned by author Sandra Davis, Ph.D., in working with leaders of all types over the past 40 years, pearls are “quick reads” intended to get you thinking and acting on becoming a better leader. We are confident you will find your own ways to practically use these pearls and make them your own. We wish you great joy and success in your leadership journey!

Visit Amazon today to purchase Pearls of Leadership Wisdom, Volume I and Pearls of Leadership Wisdom, Volume II.

Sourdough For Leadership

Since January, many leaders have been reflecting on what new practice they started in 2020 that they would like to carry into 2021. Sandra Davis recognized that one of the things she took on has a lot to do with leadership. She began making sourdough starter and sourdough bread—and realized how much that is tied to leading in times of change and developing culture. Here she challenges us to think differently about the transformations we are leading, the changes we are making in ourselves, and the culture we want to create.


Here Sandra shares one of her favorite traditions and invites us to think about ours. What traditions make you smile and laugh? Which ones fill your heart with gratitude and love? In this video, Sandra explains why traditions and rituals are so powerful in our personal lives. Then she challenges us to think about how we can apply these same concepts to our organizations to make our professional lives more meaningful too.

Women in Leadership

Recently Sandra enjoyed hearing from a number of women executives through events hosted by the Minnesota chapter of Women Corporate Directors and Twin Cities Business. Here she shares key insights on building trust, speaking up, motivation, and influence—and introduces an intriguing new concept, leadership waterfalls.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

We’ve heard that expression a lot recently, yet it got Sandra thinking about what can we learn from preparing for running a marathon while we are in the middle of a marathon. For that, she turned to her good friend who is an expert on this topic. Listen here as Sandra shares sound advice that applies as well to marathon training as it does to managing through a pandemic. 

Take a Chance on Me

In this time of tighter budgets and resources, one of the most impactful things we can do is to take a chance on team members. When you have a major task or project to delegate or assign, it may be tempting to text one of your go-to people, yet not so fast. In this 4-minute video, Sandra shares a smart alternative and three great questions to ask yourself first.

Secrets of Motivation

Drive and motivation aren’t static traits that you either have or don’t have. Ambition and dreams can be awakened. Here Sandra shares two stories about the undeniable impact that a leader can have on awakening motivation. After you hear them, consider what talent you may have overlooked in your organization. Sometimes it is right there in front of us.

The Power of Belonging

A few years ago there were a lot of opinion pieces about how loyalty in organizations is dead. But Sandra believes that notion of thinking that loyalty is dead has obscured us from actually seeing that there is a basic human need to belong that all individuals have. In this video, she shares four key coponents of belonging and brainstorms actions that leaders can take to bolster each one.

Finding Delight and Gratitude

Since our world is full of so many things we cannot control, Sandra wants to zero in on a few things we can control. In this 4-minute video, she shares a mindfulness exercise that many have found to be extremely helpful and that will help bring more delight and gratitude to your life.

Tuning in to Stress

Despite the fact that our world is beginning to open up, it is still a psychologically stressful time for many. So how do you stay attuned to signs of stress in yourself, or in others, during these times? In this 5-minute video, Sandra reviews his three stages of stress reaction, and how you can effectively respond to both others and yourself during difficult times.

With Hope for Boundless Compassion


Given the recent events in Minneapolis, Sandra was moved by a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.” So while she doesn’t have solutions or easy answers, she does share some ideas on how to use silence effectively to show boundless compassion.

The Power of Reframing

So have you ever been in a situation where you felt stuck? Or felt you were trying to solve a problem and you were totally at a dead end? Or felt that somehow a situation was hopeless? In those moments, that’s exactly when you need to be able to reach into your toolkit for the process of reframing. Here Sandra shares three examples of this powerful concept in action.

Protect the Vital Few

During this pandemic, leaders are living in a constant battle between the immediate, urgent tasks in front of them and the mid- or long-term, strategic efforts. In this pearl, Sandra shares two stories and three ways that you can help your organization stay focused on the vital few priorities. Like ice cream.

Leadership Vulnerability: Courage in Action

As a leader during this pandemic, you might feel the need to have all the answers. Yet denying the kaleidoscope of feelings we are all having only leaves you seeming inhuman or inauthentic. In contrast, if you can acknowledge what you’re concerned about or worried about and balance that with optimism and hope, that is very powerful. In this pearl, Sandra shares three important ways leaders can be vulnerable to show up as better leaders.

Pay Attention to Your Attention

I used to believe that multitasking was a strength and something that I could uniquely do. Now brain research has proved that while you may be able to do things almost simultaneously, the fact is by switching from one task to the other, you lose productivity and effectiveness. Multitasking doesn’t work. To help you switch gears, here are three bywords you can use.

Lead From the Seat You Are In

Here’s the thing: leadership and influence don’t really come with the chair you sit in, they come from you. We are all capable of influencing others in ways great and small. What matters most about being able to influence comes from your mindset and candor, not your title. Plenty of people lead more broadly than the seat they occupy. So can you! In this 5-minute video, listen as Sandra shares three things you can do to influence from the seat you are in.

Are You Caught in the Waiting Game?

Pragmatic and immediately useful, Pearls of Leadership Wisdom provide leaders at all levels with a fresh perspective on ways to lead better, especially during challenging times. Based on lessons learned by Sandra Davis, Ph.D. in working with leaders over the past 40 years, Pearls of Leadership Wisdom are “quick reads” intended to get you thinking and acting on becoming a better leader. Now Sandra reflects on her Pearls in our current business context, highlighting their relevance to new leadership challenges. In this 5-minute video, Sandra shares four critical questions leaders must ask themselves if they are caught in a waiting game in this environment. Her best advice? Resist this temptation.

Coaching and Self-Renewal

Looking at me seriously over her favorite sandwich, my nine-year old granddaughter said, “So, Oma, what is your work? What do you really do?” I attempted to help her understand first of all what a psychologist is (not so easy) and then said, “In my work, I help people who are leaders get better at what they do.” She thought about this for a while, and then asked simply, “Then who helps you get better?”

Bring Out the Best in Others

The sunlight cut sharply through the clearing in the dense New Zealand forest around us while the Maori woman proudly spoke of her tribal culture. Each family, she explained, has a special gift which is theirs to share and pass along from generation to generation.

C-suite Selection and Succession: Delivering Leadership Excellence for the Future

MDA Leadership helps CEOs articulate executive leadership needs, identify top talent, and accelerate C-suite transitions.

Senior Executive Blueprinting ™
Succession planning begins at the top. CEOs, in partnership with human resources and their boards, must think carefully about the talent they need for the future in key leadership roles. Similar to CEO Blueprinting™, MDA Leadership helps our clients articulate the executive leadership they will need to successfully navigate emerging business challenges and drive evolving strategies.
C-suite Selection and Succession
Not all C-suite hires and promotions achieve success. We help CEOs select the right executives by bringing an informed, experienced, and objective voice to the table. Based on a CEO’s criteria and an organization’s norms, we assess and analyze executive candidates to provide definitive and well-grounded promotion and hiring recommendations.
C-Suite Transitions
About 60% of executives say they were not prepared for the strategic challenges they faced in their new senior leadership roles.3 MDA Leadership accelerates effective transition into the C-suite. Through a unique discovery process, we help executives gain deep insight into what it will take to be successful given stakeholder expectations, team dynamics, and the nuances of C-suite leadership. Our seasoned coaches guide leaders in designing and executing highly relevant and engaging onboarding plans.

Board Services: Enhancing Board Effectiveness

MDA Leadership helps boards strengthen their governance roles and internal dynamics.

Board Evaluations
Most boards are required to evaluate their own performance on an annual basis—an exercise that can range from “checking the box” to an experience that truly engages board members in the right conversations. Our services include full board evaluations, individual director reviews, peer feedback, chair role transitions, and action planning.
Board and CEO Consultation
Creating strong board and CEO collaboration requires mutual trust and respect. Forging and maintaining productive relationships cannot be left to chance. MDA Leadership provides trusted advisor consultation for CEOs and their boards to foster alignment in critical areas such as decision-making, role clarity, governance, and communication.
CEO Coaching and Trusted Advisor Consultation
Two-thirds of CEOs don’t receive any outside advice on their leadership skills, and yet almost all would be receptive to suggestions from a coach.4 Since a one-size-fits-all playbook for CEOs doesn’t exist, MDA Leadership provides CEO coaching. Whether business performance is hitting the mark or not, even seasoned CEOs benefit from the safe place and counsel we provide to help them evolve their leadership.

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At MDA Leadership, we know there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for every organization. We take the time to get to know your business and your leadership needs and recommend a range of options that are the best fit for your growth goals. Let's see how MDA Leadership can optimize your Talent Strategy for the Long Run®.