The Most Impactful Strategies for Character Leadership | Alison Jones

EP162 Nicole Greer square (3)

How Can You Lead with Intention, Integrity, and Purpose?

In this episode of the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast, Nicole Greer interviews Alison Jones. Alison Jones is a leadership transformation speaker, coach, and author of the number one bestseller book, Character Leadership. She’s the founder and CEO of The Wellness Society, LLC and she helps leaders and organizations break through apathy by reigniting a sense of purpose and significance. Additionally, she supercharges employee energy, engagement, and well-being. 

In this episode: 

  • We explore the concept of character leadership, emphasizing the importance of leading with intention, integrity, and purpose. 
  • We discuss the impact of leadership on organizational culture and employee well-being, highlighting the need for leaders to be self-aware and to cultivate a mindset of service. 
  • The conversation covers the victim, victor, and vessel mindsets, with Jones advocating for the vessel approach to foster a peaceful, others-centric leadership style. 
  • We also touch on the role of ego and the power of gratitude in leadership. The episode concludes with a personal anecdote and a plug for Jones’s book.


As the host of the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast, I’ve had the privilege of engaging with some of the most insightful minds in the realm of leadership and organizational culture. In a recent episode, I sat down with Alison Jones, the author of Character Leadership and the founder/CEO of The Wellness Society LLC, to explore the profound impact that leadership can have on both individuals and organizations.

The Genesis of “Character Leadership”

Alison’s journey to writing Character Leadership was fueled by her recognition of the critical need for strong, effective leadership. She observed the detrimental effects of toxic work environments and became an advocate for positive leadership as a catalyst for creating energized and happy workplaces. Her book serves as a testament to the power of leading with purpose and intention.

Defining Character Leadership

During our conversation, Alison defined character leadership as the act of leading with intention, integrity, and purpose. She stressed the importance of authenticity, humility, and integrity, suggesting that true leaders inspire others to follow them for the greater good, not out of fear or obligation.

Crafting a Leadership Statement

We delved into the practicality of creating a character leadership statement—a guiding principle that encapsulates a leader’s intentionality and purpose. This statement acts as a north star, ensuring that every action taken is aligned with the leader’s core values and objectives.

The Mindset of Service

Alison introduced the vessel model of leadership, which emphasizes the importance of being a conduit for positive impact and serving the greater good. This model contrasts sharply with leadership styles that are ego-centric or focused solely on personal success.

The Victim, Victor, and Vessel Mindsets

Our discussion also covered the different mindsets that leaders can adopt. The victim mindset is characterized by a sense of helplessness and a tendency to blame others, while the victor mindset is about achieving results, often at the expense of others. Alison advocates for the vessel mindset, which is others-centric and fosters a peaceful state of being.

The Pyramid Model of Character Leadership

Alison shared her pyramid model of character leadership, which starts with the foundational elements of awareness, acceptance, authenticity, abundance, and appreciation. These traits support consistent behaviors that lead to compassion, connection, and commitment, driving personal growth and energy.

The Role of Ego and Gratitude in Leadership

We touched on the role of ego in leadership and the importance of collaboration, maintaining an abundance mindset, and expressing appreciation for teams. Leaders are encouraged to practice gratitude and bring positive, compassionate energy to their roles.

The Energy We Bring

A key takeaway from our conversation was the significance of the energy leaders bring to their interactions. It’s essential to be mindful of this energy, as it not only affects others but also reflects on our own state of being. The power of gratitude can be transformative, changing our energy from negative to positive.

A Personal Connection

I shared a personal anecdote about meeting Alison, which underscored the impact that genuine connections can have on our professional and personal lives. It was a reminder of the importance of community and the shared journey of growth.

Final Thoughts and Resources

As we wrapped up the episode, I couldn’t help but reiterate the value of Alison’s insights. Her book Character Leadership is a resource I highly recommend for anyone looking to lead with more purpose and intention. For those seeking further guidance, visiting her website is a must for additional resources.

In conclusion, our lively and engaging discussion underscored the importance of character leadership in building a vibrant culture. By leading with intention and focusing on the development of our character, we can create a positive impact on our teams and organizations. It’s about being mindful of the legacy we’re creating—one interaction at a time.

Mentioned in this episode:


Alison – (00:00:00) And to me, the ultimate goal is that we are leading with purpose. We have that purpose in mind, and sometimes it’s in those small day to day things. It’s in those interactions. It’s in building those relationships. Sometimes it’s larger, sometimes it’s we have a big mission and, you know, we want to impact. We want to change lives, whether it’s something massive, like, you know, clean water in third world countries or whether it’s something smaller, you know, “smaller,” where it’s a company mission to produce the best product it can produce to make lives better.

Voice Over (00:00:33) – This is the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast, your source for the strategies, systems, and insights you need to turn your dreams into your destiny. Every week, we dive into dynamic conversations as our host Nicole Greer interviews leadership and business experts. They’re here to shed light on practical solutions to the challenges of personal and professional development. Now here’s your host, a professional speaker, coach, and consultant, Nicole Greer.

Nicole (00:01:00) – Welcome, everybody, to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. I’m Nicole Greer and they call me the Vibrant Coach. And I am here with another incredible guest I’ve got today on the show. Look at this book, y’all. It’s Allison Jones. She has written a book called Character Leadership. Let me tell you all about her. Allison Jones is a leadership transformation speaker, coach, and author and this book is a number one bestseller. Character leadership. She’s the founder and CEO of The Wellness Society, LLC, and she helps leaders break through apathy and organizations by reigniting a sense of purpose and significance. She supercharges employee energy, engagement, and well-being. Please welcome to the show, Allison Jones. How are you?

Alison (00:01:46) – Hi, Nicole. I’m doing great. How are you?

Nicole (00:01:48) – I’m really good. I am so excited to have you because I have read your book and I L-o-v-e it, okay. So, everybody, Character Leadership. So good.

Alison (00:01:59) – Thank you. You’re actually one of the first people that got the new updated version with the added testimonials and a few tweaks. Yeah, you’re one of the first.

Nicole (00:02:08) – Yeah, I love it. Okay, so I want to read something right straight out of the introduction because I thought it was great. Listen to this, y’all. “In a world brimming with literature on leadership and organizational culture, some may ask, do we need another book on leadership? Is there anything new to say?” And so I love that you start out with kind of like poking a hole and what maybe people might be thinking, but the answer is yes, we need a new book. “Leadership continues to be one of the most requested topics for workshops, speaking engagements, and client interventions according to the Speaking Industry Benchmark report published by AAE Speakers Bureau. You know, the top things people want to hear about are diversity, equity, inclusion and leadership. What brought you to write this book? How did you get here?

Alison (00:02:52) – So it’s been a long journey. I write a little about that in the beginning of the book. But I’ve always been really aware from friends and even my own experiences of just how important strong leadership, effective positive leadership, is and just starting out when I first started working and hearing so many stories of people who just were dreading going to work, and they just felt like their workplaces were toxic and their managers were just toxic, it was just it was so sad, honestly. So I decided to go into that as a career. And I believe that it’s still something that is just, you can talk to anybody and they will have a story for you about working for somebody who just made them feel insignificant or stressed out all the time, or they felt that there was a major disconnect between their supervisor and the work they were doing. It’s just something we all go to work. If we go to an office, whether we do or not, but work, it takes up so much of our life. And wouldn’t we want to spend it somewhere where we feel energized and happy?

Nicole (00:03:59) – Yeah, 100%. And energized and happy is vibrant. That’s what I’m talking about. I love, like I said, I love, love the book. Okay. So she talks about character leadership.  Now in my little methodology I talk about integrity. But don’t you think integrity and character are kind of the same animal? What do you think, Allison?

Alison (00:04:18) – Yes, and I talk a little bit about integrity in the book. So I believe that, you know, I have boiled it down to what I call five essential states of leadership. And they all start with the letter A, which makes it easy to kind of remember. But one of those five states is authenticity. And I believe that integrity is part of authenticity. Can you be a leader without integrity? Well, there’s a lot of debate out there, as we all know, about what leadership really is. But for me, we’re focusing on positive leadership. We’re focusing on, you know, leadership where people are inspired to follow you for the greater good because you’re bringing out the good in them, because you’re helping lead them towards the greater good and those types of leaders, absolutely, integrity has to be a part of it. And when you’re leading with authenticity, when you’re leading with integrity, and I believe humility is wrapped up in there as well, who wouldn’t follow a leader like that?

Nicole (00:05:12) – 100%, 100%. Well, you know, on page four, and those of you who listen to the podcast all the time know I collect definitions of leadership. And look at Allison. She’s advanced. She put it in a book. She’s got a definition in here and so let’s unpack your definition a little bit. She says on page four, early on, she says the answer to our worries to build a vibrant culture is to have character leadership. I couldn’t agree more. And she says character leadership is a call to lead with intention, integrity, and purpose. It’s a call to lead from a mindset of service and to build character traits that translate to effective and transformational leadership in the workplace. Oh, my God, what a definition. So good, so good! Leading with intention, integrity, and purpose. So you talked about integrity already but you might want to touch on it again. But talk about intention, integrity, and purpose. Unpack those a little bit for us because those are fantastic.

Alison (00:06:09) – Right. You know, I think that a lot of it really does come down to intentionality. And I would love to see leadership being more intentionally woven throughout, not just workplaces, but communities, families. What about in the home? If we lead with the intention, what if we raised kids and we said, hey, how are we growing our leadership as kids, as a family? To me, let’s have leadership be part of our conversation, not just in the workplace, not just on boards that we serve on, not just in, you know, nonprofit organizations, but let’s do it in life. Let’s be leaders. Let’s lead with intentionality. And to me, that’s with a purpose in mind. What is the greater good here? So I think if we let’s stick to the workplace for a second here. But if we say there’s a situation we’re trying to figure out, there’s an interaction that’s going on.

If we really think about what is the greater good here, what am I trying to do? Is it really this end result I’m trying to get, or is maybe the greater purpose right now is this relationship that I’m trying to develop. I think that can really have an impact on how we lead, the decisions we make, how we behave and character is something we all have to obviously we all, we never arrive on earth, right? We’re never going to be. Yeah, none of us have a corner in the market on character. We’re all always either growing our character or not. And I believe that we’re all changing. And if we’re not changing in an upward direct direction, we’re changing in the opposite direction. So let’s grow our character. And so when we do that and when we decide to be intentional about it. So I use the analogy of, you know, a tree that’s an orange tree. If it’s not an orange tree at its roots, it’s not going to bear the fruit of oranges.

You can try to staple some oranges on there and say, it’s an orange tree, and it might look like an orange tree for a while. And that would be, you know, like just trying to act a certain way, behave a certain way. But if you’re not an orange tree at your roots after time, that fruit’s going to decay. And whatever that root system is, maybe you’re an apple tree. You’re going to bear the fruit of apples. So we want to make sure that we’re very intentionally cultivating that character at the root system. How are we building it every day? We want to be intentional, I believe, about cultivating those traits, practicing and growing and developing those traits. It could be in any number of ways. And to me, the ultimate goal is that we are leading with purpose. We have that purpose in mind, and sometimes it’s in those small day to day things. It’s in those interactions. It’s in building those relationships. Sometimes it’s larger, sometimes it’s we have a big mission and, you know, we want to impact.

We want to change lives, whether it’s something massive like, you know, clean water in third world countries or whether it’s something smaller, you know, “smaller,” where it’s a company mission to produce the best product it can produce to make lives better. But we’re always looking at that purpose in our interactions and in our choices. So to me, that’s sort of leading with that, that intentionality and that purpose.

Nicole (00:09:11) – Yeah, I love what you’re saying. So intention, integrity, and purpose. So everybody write that down. Write that down. Take good notes. That’s what mama said when we went to school and this is school to build a vibrant culture podcast as a school. So, you know one thing, I have a mentor, Allison, and her name is Anne. And she said to me one time, you know, an intention is great, Nicole, but you have to give an intention attention. And I was like, dang, if that ain’t true. I just thought that was so good. So, you know, to wake up every morning and maybe, you know, have a little sticky note on your mirror from Allison Jones, the author of Character Leadership, How to Attract, retain, and Energize Employees to Create a Winning Organization. Maybe you say, okay, first of all, how am I going to be a man or a woman of character today? What am I working on? And then what is my intention? How do I give it attention? How do I be a man or a woman of integrity? And how do I live out my purpose and my mission? So I think leaders need to get up and, like, repeat that, like, rinse and repeat every single day so they can get their head in the game. Get thinking that way.

Alison (00:10:14) – And let me just say one thing right there too. So one of the things in the book that I talk about is if you create what I call a character leadership statement, that’s sort of your guiding statement. So it would look different for different people. And, and that’s one of the things I think is so neat about leadership. And when you talk about your vibrant culture, vibrant leadership, which is full of life and vitality and energy, I just love that you have that word vibrant because it’s such a beautiful word and it’s got so much energy associated with it, and everyone’s brand of leadership is going to look different. So I think there are core traits we like. You brought up integrity, which is just perfect because I think integrity is essential. I think that an abundance mindset is essential. I think showing appreciation is essential, being aware and accepting, but how that’s going to look for each leader with their own unique personality because they’re leading from within, is going to be so different. So I recommend crafting your own character leadership statement. And Nicole for you, I could see that yours would be really fun and jazzy, because the leadership statement I know is that you probably want to make people laugh. You probably want to make people smile, and to you there’s going to be that very vibrant energy. Maybe the word vibrant is in yours. Someone else might have a little bit different statement. Theirs might have more about empowering others. Maybe someone that’s about showing compassion. All these things are great, but whatever it is that you’re focusing on at this point in your life, to try to, like you said, have that word in your mind at the beginning of the day. What am I going to focus on? So if you say I am a compassionate, vibrant leader or I am an empowering, energizing change maker, if you repeat that throughout the day and that starts to get in, like you said, the attention to the intention, I think incrementally that can really change how we show up each day. 

Nicole (00:11:56) – Yeah. That’s fantastic. Okay, so everybody in the book, she gives you directions how to come up with this character leadership statement. Did I say it right?

Alison (00:12:04) – You did.

Nicole (00:12:05) – Okay. All right. So you can do that. Now I’ve got a document. So like hey email Allison, email Nicole and do your homework. People don’t just listen to this stuff and think, oh, well, that’s nice. Call us and let’s actually get this work done. So I have a little document creating a mission statement for work in life. And so that’s what I encourage people to do. And so what you said is so great. So we’re on the same page here everybody. So listen to this. Nicole Greer is on a mission to energize, impact, and influence people, to lead a more vibrant life from considering what is possible and taking the steps to make it probable. That’s what I do all day long is I do podcasts and I train. I do the same thing Alison does. She does all the things like me and that’s what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to help people get themselves in the game here. Okay. So let’s talk about mindset.

Alison (00:12:54) – That is very authentic to you.

Nicole (00:12:56) – Oh, it is! I mean, you know, I’ve been doing that for a long time. Yeah.

Alison (00:13:00) – Yeah. From the moment I met you that is very authentic to you which is why it resonates. Yes.

Nicole (00:13:06) – Yeah. Yeah. And you know, and when I go places, I challenge people all the time. Do you have a mission statement which, in Alison’s case, if she comes and works with you, she’s challenging you to actually do this. Like we’re not talking about philosophy here. Well, we are. But you got to take action on these these things people come up with. So get Alison’s book and get that done. All right. Let’s talk about mindset real quick because we talked about giving your intention attention. But you put in here character leadership is a call. So first of all I love that word call. There’s something bigger in the world that’s calling you. Yeah okay. Just think about that. 

Alison (00:13:47) – We are not  just here to take up space and breathe oxygen. We are not. There’s a vacuum inside of each of us, and it is a call to do something greater.

Nicole (00:13:56) – That’s right. You know, Alison, sometimes I’ll say to people, you know why the world is such a hot mess? Because people don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing.

Alison (00:14:02) – Yes, I 100% agree. Yes.

Nicole (00:14:06) – If everybody figured out their call, we’d probably find the cure to cancer and a hundred other problems. Okay, so, so a call to lead. So a mindset of service. So when you say this is a book about attracting and retaining and energizing employees, you’re talking about a mindset of service, what the organization has to have. Talk about that.

Alison (00:14:27) – Yeah. So in the book I talk about sort of different I call it the vessel model of leadership.And so it sort of ties in there that when we have that mindset and that view that we are going to be sort of that vessel through which positive impact flows, that we are here not just to get a balanced budget or to produce the product or all of that, but when we’re here to show up and, and basically offer ourselves for service for this greater good, then we can just allow that impact and that influence to flow through us instead of always forcing things and, you know, all the blame placing and all of that. So, I think that honestly, we can all think of leaders that we say are the great leaders of all time, you know, the Nelson Mandela, the Mother Teresa, and they’re all very different. Not all of them were the best speakers. Not all of them were always telling people what to do. Not all of them were, you know, running billion businesses. But there was just something about them where they showed up as their authentic selves and they served other people. They had that higher vision, that higher calling. They were called, they felt tapped on the shoulder, you know, to do something. And so can we infuse that into making the widgets? Well, yes. If we are trying to be, you know, if you’re working a drive thru window, can you still be the best part of someone’s day? Yes you can. 

Nicole (00:15:57) – And that’s the service today. That’ll happen.

Alison (00:16:00) – Exactly. My pleasure, right?

Nicole (00:16:03) – 100%.

Alison (00:16:04) – Yes. So I think we can if we really look at our lives through the lens of service, I just like you said before, if we can all do that, the world will be a very different place.

Nicole (00:16:17) – Yeah, 100%, 100%. Okay, so the other really cool thing that you can do at Alison’s website, tell us your website address real quick.

Alison (00:16:25) – Yeah. So it’s a 

Nicole (00:16:33) – Okay. So in there y’all. Oh my gosh that’s how we talk in Concord, North Carolina, y’all. She’s got chapter two okay. And in chapter two she’s got this thing okay. It is the vessel model of leadership. Now this particular chapter, chapter two, she’s already downloading major major goodness. She says that there are different leadership styles. And so you can go to her website. So you go to her website backslash.

Alison (00:17:03) – So for the leadership style quiz. Yes. So leadership-style-quiz.

Nicole (00:17:09) – Okay. All right. So you go there and you’ll take the quiz.

And I took the quiz and I’m a driven gal as you all know. And so I came back with the success style. What are the other two styles that you can have?

Alison (00:17:22) – So we can I believe and again, not that we want to necessarily, you know, label people or put them in these tight buckets, but I think it’s helpful to see where we tend to fall so we can be a little bit more security based, a little bit more success based, or a little bit more impact based. So how hard are we driving for results? How hard are we driving to stay safe, and how much are we really just focused more on what is this bigger impact? And being success based is where many of us are, and it’s a great place to be because we’re empowered and we know we can get results. We are driven and that’s a great place to be. There’s some dangers in it that we can push hard sometimes we can push ourselves hard. We can burn out. Right? You know, we can not take care of ourselves. We can sometimes push for results at the expense of relationships. You know, we’ve all sacrificed things sometimes that we look back on and we say, it might have been better to focus on the relationship over the result. So but impact based, many success based people have a lot of that as well. But there’s a very narrow range there where, you know, there would be more like everything is more about just the collaboration, the greater good. Getting rid of all ego. That’s a really tough place to be, but it’s something that we can all strive to have more of in our lives.

Nicole (00:18:46) – Right. And that’s that character development thing that Alison is talking about. So, like, Nicole Greer is not done yet. She still has room for improvement. And and here’s the thing, Alison, almost everybody on planet Earth is not perfect. Have you noticed that?

Alison (00:19:00) – I have myself included. I think I might have fallen into the success category, too.

Nicole (00:19:06) – Right. Right. And here’s the thing. You know, I do. I want to win. I have that attitude. But I think the thing that really resonated with me is I need to take care of myself better. I do. I put work before Nicole Greer sometimes. So really good advice in here for you overachievers like me. All right.

Alison (00:19:24) – And that is something to Nicole that we can talk about these things and we can talk about the need for more character without already having fully arrived ourselves. It’s just like all coaches, they’re not perfect, but they just figured out some tools that have helped them go to the next level in their lives. And it’s the same thing. We can talk about wanting to be more of a character leader without feeling that we have already arrived, and we’ve got it all figured out, because none of us on this earth are ever going to be fully there. But can we get more incrementally there and make more of an impact?

Nicole (00:19:56) – Yeah, 100%. And you know, what she’s talking about is for real, real, because I go all sorts of places and train. And what’s interesting to me, Alison, is I’ll go somewhere and I’ll be giving the training on whatever the topic, leadership, emotional intelligence, change management, whatever the stuff is. And I’m delivering the training and one of the folks will come up to me on a break and go, Nicole, can I ask you a question? I’m like, sure. And they’re like, is my boss going to get this training? And I’m like, no, honey, I don’t think so. And they just have this look on their face like, oh, because they know, like I need this. But so does he, or so does she. And so again, we’re not done yet, right? You know. So you want to have an impact. You got to get in there leaders and do this training. Yeah.

Alison (00:20:38) – So, one of the people who wrote a review for my book early on made that comment that they were going to kind of slip one to their boss.

And it was just kind of humorous the way they said that, because it’s that kind of approach. You, I yeah, I get it. And we all know we’ve all heard it and the statistics bear it out. There’s so many studies that what is the main reason that people leave a job? It’s because of their boss.

Nicole (00:21:01) – 100%. Yeah, sure.

Alison (00:21:02) – And it’s that trickle down. 

Nicole (00:21:06) – Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, Alison and I are really hoping we’re reaching somebody. We love you to death. We just need you to come to training. We need you to come to coaching. We need you to read the book, okay. And don’t forget, here’s the book right here. Character Leadership by Alison Jones. All right. So in chapter two, you talk about that as a leader there’s like three mindsets. So I you know, I’m a big believer and like you got to get this brain hardwired the right way. And you say there’s three different ways that people think.

One is the leader thinks they’re a victim and then they blame others. You know, my team didn’t do a good job. What’s wrong with my team? Or victor, you push others, you know, like we have to work hard or hard or harder. And then there’s the vessel, which I love, right? The conduit to pull others into the mission and to the purpose. So we talk a little bit about the victim, the victor, and the vessel. I love your alliteration.

Alison (00:22:02) – Yes. I was taking a walk one day with my dog, and I was thinking about the whole concept of, you know, just that mindset. None of us want to say we’re trapped in a victim mindset, but we get there sometimes, whether we want to label it victim or not. Where we do feel that, oh, you know, why can’t anybody else do the job right? Why does this always happen to me? Why do people, you know, get stuck in that scarcity mindset where things are happening to us and we become fearful because we so much want control over situations and we don’t feel that sense of control. And we tend to want to blame others and not take responsibility because that feels scary to take responsibility. So we get stuck in sort of this woe is me, things are happening to me, and when it all came to me that it’s really these three V’s, I was like, we got to put this into a model to help people really conceptualize this. So yeah, that’s sort of the victim. Everything’s happening to me. And, and people aren’t, you know, like you said, blame, blame, blame the team. And then it is definitely a disempowered state. It’s also very ego driven because it’s very much about me and protecting me, when a lot of times with self growth and improvement, we move out of that state into a more empowered state with the victor state. And it’s certainly more empowered, it’s more empowering. We know we can achieve results. We’re not blaming everybody we know we got this. We can push, push, push. So it’s definitely, you know, where many of us are and where many leaders and organizations are and are usually very good at executing and getting results. But it is also still very much an ego driven straight state where it’s about achievements and success and results, often at the expense of others and the greater good and relationships. Not always. And again, we can all notice ourselves as a victim, victor, and a vessel in different stages of our life, but we tend to live more in one place than the others, and that’s what we’re just trying to get a sense of. So when we move more from that, so I call, the victim state, we’re blaming others, victor state, we’re pushing others, and then that vessel state is instead it’s a peaceful state where we’re pulling others. It’s more of a natural pulling. People want to follow. They want to be led because of how we’re showing up with that character, with that focus on others, it’s more others centric. It’s not egocentric, it’s other centric. Things are happening rather than driving, driving, driving. Things are happening through us because we’re allowing ourselves to be that conduit. And if you think of that vessel that’s, you know, it’s carrying something valuable to others water, whatever it is, this nourishment that people need, it’s that it’s that conduit. And it can be that conduit of these valuable things that people need the change, the impact. And when we can show up that way and sort of remove our ego from, from the equation and recognize, oh, that’s ego starting to crop up. Time for me to put that to the side and focus on the greater good here. Not weak, still getting results, but collaborative and understanding when it’s time to chill and take care of ourselves and other people. And when it’s time to maybe stop the debate because that’s not for the greater good or whatever that may look like. You know, I think that that is the type of leader that people just flock to.

Nicole (00:25:27) – Yeah, I agree.

Voice Over (00:25:29) – Are you ready to build your vibrant culture? Bring Nicole Greer to speak to your leadership team, conference, or organization to help them with their strategies, systems, and smarts to increase clarity, accountability, energy, and results.

Your organization will get lit from within. Email her at, and be sure to check out Nicole’s TEDx talk at

Nicole (00:25:53) – There are people in our lives. Just everybody stop for a moment and think of a leader that you had that you’re just like, I would do anything for them. You know, that’s the person who’s a vessel that makes things happen and is providing you the way. And I love what you’re saying about caring. You know, when I, when I teach, a lot of times I’ll tell leaders, here’s the two most important habits you need to have, which is the H in my shine coaching methodology. In the H is ask powerful questions. Right? Help people find their own answer. Pull them into the conversation. Ask what they think, you know. If you want to know what’s going on with the customers, ask the people who work with the customers, you know. Right? And then listen, like, be a good listener. You know, I heard this over in that part of the company and that over in that part of the company that must be real. Real or that must be what people think is real. So I think, you know, asking powerful questions and listening would make you an awesome vessel.

Alison (00:26:55) – I think that is so perfect that you brought that up. And it’s interesting because when I first learned about your vibrant culture, I was thinking to myself, you know, what would make a culture vibrant? Obviously there’s things that we all know, you know, trust and diversity and all of these things make a vibrant culture. But I thought, you know, a word that kept popping into my head was curiosity, asking those questions, remaining curious. And how often do leaders ask to listen versus telling people or just asking because they want a certain answer, but asking those questions and then holding space for the people to respond without interjecting all the time with our own opinions and beliefs and answers. Imagine how empowered people feel if you ask, and then you listen and you just hold that space for them.

Nicole (00:27:42) – Yeah, I’m like, I tell people all the time, you don’t have to be the smartest one in the room. You don’t have to be the sage on the stage. You need to get the genius out of your people. And you know, when you think about vibrant, you know, of course it’s light. And I’m like, people have ideas. There’s a light bulb over everybody’s head. You just don’t notice. And so you’ve got to get in there and ask those questions. So I love this victim, victor, vessel thing to think about. I think it can really help you all. Okay. Now page 44, 45, 46, 47, and 48, people, is this chart, okay? There’s no way you can see it. But I want you to see that there’s a chart for three pages. Okay. And, in here, Alison has taken just an amazing amount of detail and time and energy to talk about the the leadership style, the communication style, the team dynamics, the impact on others. I could go on and on, but she will help you kind of look in the mirror and see your leadership style. So tell me a little bit about how the three different leaders show up in terms of their impact on others, because I think that’s the most important thing. I ask leaders this powerful question, Alison, which is when I coach or if I do a big personality team building or something, I’ll say, here’s a very important question. Very powerful. What is it like to experience you? 

Oh, that’s so good! I got it from Kathleen when I went through my master coaching program. I don’t think people know, they don’t get, like, the way you behave is making people have a reaction.

Alison (00:29:18) – It’s so true to try to put yourself in other people’s shoes. I just have to share this really quick tidbit because when you say that immediately came to mind. So I teach a fitness class and we had a trainer that came last month, I believe, and she said to us, because she was encouraging us to video ourselves and to play that back and do it every now and then to just. And she said, I hate to say it this way, but we need to watch and see what we’re subjecting our class participants to.

And, then we videoed each other that day. And when I look back at my video, I was saying the word all right a lot while I was teaching, all right? And I was like, that’s just dreadful.

Nicole (00:29:56) – Yeah. Where is that all right coming from?  

Alison (00:30:01) – So, I have stopped. I’ve cut the word all right out of my teaching because it’s just not something you want to hear someone saying all the time. All right, all right. So it’s just kind of funny when you said that. What are we subjecting people to as a leader? So a lot of times we get so caught up, I think, in wanting to protect ourselves. We all, I believe, are walking around an older version of our younger selves. And we all have these wounds and these scars and these insecurities that we’re still trying to resolve from way back when growing up. You know, even many who, and I talked about this in the book. and even many high achievers, what is driving that? And often it is we’re still trying to prove someone wrong.

We’re still trying to be okay, right?. And in doing this, what impact are we having on other people when we’re trying to be right? We’re trying to be the best. We’re trying to be successful. We’re trying to have the most accolades. What are we doing? In essence, other people are feeling smaller around us, and we all know the Maya Angelou quote about it’s not what you say, it’s how you make people feel that’s what they remember and that’s what makes a difference. So we’re all busy trying to be successful and trying to get all these places. But how are we making people feel? What is that impact that we’re having on them? And are we? So the subtitle of my book, the engage, empower, and energize employees, are we leaving them feeling engaged and empowered and energized? You know, and that’s the impact that we’re having on people. We’re either leaving them feeling more of that, less of that, or just no impact. I’d rather try to leave a little bit more of the positive empowerment, energy, and engagement.

Nicole (00:31:44) – Yeah, yeah. I couldn’t agree more. And and sometimes I’ll share with people that with leaders like there’s, like there’s this feeling scale and you know, if you drew an arrow up and down on a piece of paper, you had a little, you know, carrot top on the top of the the line and a little carrot top at the bottom of the line, essentially your employees, they all come to work somewhere on this, this feeling scale. And so the leader’s job is to move them up, you know, and, you know, like get your head wrapped around this. All my leaders that are listening, people do better work when they feel good. Yeah, it’s not rocket brain science, you know, it’s like, you know, if I walk around and my impact is that people are like, oh my God, Nicole is so funny. And that was just great. And I’m excited about what she shared with us. Then I’m going to get to work. But if I come in, I’ve got a frown and I’m mad about things and I’m upset or I don’t say anything. That apathy thing that you talked about in your that I read in your intro, then people are like, you know, well, why am I here? What’s the point?

Alison (00:32:55) – Yeah. And we have to remember that people coming to work, I mean, honestly, whether it’s in an in-person office or virtually when we’re all working from home, people are still coming to do their job and they’re coming with all of it. They’re coming with their parenting struggles. They’re coming with their relationship struggles. They’re coming with their financial issues. They’re coming with their lack of sleep, their sleep deprivation. They’re they’re coming with all of it. And then they’re coming to do their job. They’re not coming as robots. They’re coming as human beings. And the company depends on these human beings to do the work, to have a successful organization. But if we forget that these are people coming with fears and exhaustion and all these things, then we’re missing the opportunity to have this impact that is not just for that person, but it’s going to result in better productivity, more energy, all these things. So it’s not just a feel good concept. It’s a strategic concept.

Nicole (00:33:57) – Oh my gosh, 100%! I love Alison Jones, don’t you? Everybody, okay.. Well, you know, and here’s the thing. You know like I just said a little while ago you know think of a leader that, you know, you thought really cared about you. So, you know, I’ve told this story a hundred times, but, you know, I had a leader, her name was Nancy Freeman, and she didn’t really even know me yet. And I was young at the time, and she just called me up and she was very straightforward with me. She was a straightforward gal. She was courageous. She was bold. These are all character traits. And she told me, she said, I just really don’t think you know what to do as a manager. We’ve promoted you too soon. So I’m coming to help. And I was like, okay, you know, and and I think, you know, like a lot of people, I don’t know if this is your story out there, people, but sometimes when you do have a lot of energy and you’re willing, which is another amazing character trait. Willingness to me is the ultimate character trait. People will promote you like, she’s got a lot of energy. She’ll figure it out. But, like, Nancy just didn’t leave me hanging. She’s like, I’m coming to teach you how to read a profit and loss statement. I’m coming to teach you this, coming to teach you that. And I was like, okay. And just really shaped me as a young business person. I mean, wow, how amazing is that?

Alison (00:35:16) – She put on her mentor hat. And she was a true mentor to you.

Nicole (00:35:21) – 100%. Yeah.

Alison (00:35:22) – And you remember it.

Nicole (00:35:24) – Yeah. I mean, eons later, thirty years later. Yeah. So she was amazing. Okay, now I don’t want to stop yet. Time flies when you’re having such a good talk with Alison Jones about her book, Character Leadership. Go buy it. It’s on Amazon, people, you know? All right, so I want to talk about page 56. She’s got another little diagram. And you know, Nicole Greer loves a diagram and a model. And, something you can put on a whiteboard. It’s amazing. Okay, so she talks about her five essential states of leadership. She’s already talked about this. And you’ve got, like, five levels. So I don’t know if we can get this done. but the first level you already talked about, there are five essential states, which is awareness, acceptance, authenticity, abundance, and appreciation. And then you cast catered up. Well, you kind of run through that little model for us because I think it is awesome.

Alison (00:36:11) – Yeah. So the reason I wanted to create it as a pyramid is I think that what tends to happen out there and yeah, there’s the pyramid on the screen for those watching. So we tend to go straight to the behavior, which is sort of that level two of the pyramid. We get the training, we learn skills, we learn to try to be better listeners, better communicators, you know, conflict resolution skills, negotiation skills.

These are all behavioral skills that we learn. But if we don’t first address the root, which is that level one, that sort of foundational root of the structure, like I talked about the root system of that tree, those behaviors, we all know they’re they’re going to be short lived, right? We’re not going to be able to stay a very engaged, active listener if we don’t really care about what the person is saying or if we don’t have authenticity in our communication. So if we first can really work on that building of the base layer, the awareness, acceptance, authenticity, abundance and appreciation. And again, there’s other things wrapped up in those, you know, the humility, the integrity, things like that. But they’re all kind of covered in the umbrella of those five traits. Let’s always work on building those. And then as we build those, our behaviors are going to flow more naturally from those five essential states. The next level up, I believe, and it very conveniently is A, B, C, D, E. So the next level up is our C’s because that’s going to create more compassion, connection, and commitment when our behaviors and it’s all about alignment right. So when our behaviors are flowing from these character states we’re going to be more in alignment, right?. And we’re going to feel more compassionate. We’re going to feel more connected. We’re going to feel more centered. All of those things. That’s going to then it’s sort of like a reverse funnel that’s going to increase our drive, our dedication, our determination, because now it’s almost like this is our way of being, and we’re seeing the positive results. And people are saying, oh, this style of leadership works for me. And we’re seeing the energy that people are now bringing to their role. And then that top level is sort of that ongoing energy. The energy that comes from that increased drive and dedication and then the ongoing education and enrichment, where we continue to now try to tweak the things that need tweaking and learn more and grow as a person, always going back down to those character traits. So it’s this continuous cycle where we never arrive. But I think if we look at it that way, where if you don’t first develop that root system at the base, the rest of it is that house of cards, it’s we’re going to have these fleeting attempts. It’s going to fall. So I see the character traits being that base which leads to the consistent behaviors. Then that increased true compassion, centeredness, commitment, the drive, the dedication, and then that energy that comes from it and that ongoing education and enrichment of who we are as people and how we’re showing up. Does that make sense?

Nicole (00:39:20) – It makes total sense. People get it.

Alison (00:39:23) – Made sense to me in my head. So I’m glad.

Nicole (00:39:26) – Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know,  I really like the orange tree analogy because it’s true. I mean, what you are at the core is going to put out into the world that same thing. Right? You know, you’re going to produce what you are.

And I think, you know, you’ve talked about ego a lot. And, ego is a funny thing. We’ve discussed it on the Build of Vibrant Culture podcast before, but let me just remind you or tell you for the first time, if you’re just tuning in for the first time, is that ego was put in you by, I believe, the creator so that you would have a little partner to keep you safe. And you’re only supposed to use it in your youth, you know, because when you’re young, you’re vulnerable. And so you need a little partner on your shoulder called your ego that helps you stay safe, keeps you secure, helps you gain a little bit of control of a situation, and helps you get approval. Now, those three things are what feed the ego. But then what Alison is saying and what I have said is that when you get older, you don’t really need to parade your ego around anymore. What you need to do is to collaborate with the people around you, get into these five states.

Let’s read them one more time in case you’re like, I didn’t get all five of those A’s. Here they are. Awareness, you know, and in my coaching methodology, my S is self awareness. So again, Alice and I are like two peas in a pod. awareness. And then like acceptance, self-acceptance, acceptance of others. One of the things that I tell is like I taught personality stuff yesterday to a financial team and I said, you know what people say to me? Oh, I got this person on my team. They’re really different. And I’m like, congratulations, you have a human right, you know? So it’s like, you know, awareness that people are not just like me and they’re not going to be. And then I need their skills, their strengths, and then I need to bring my own skills and strengths. So awareness of who’s on the team, authenticity being a man or a woman of integrity, abundance, having an abundance mindset. And then for goodness sake, appreciating the fact that you’ve got a job, you’re working in a company, you’ve got humans there to help you. I think sometimes we just don’t really appreciate all the things we’ve got. Do you have a gratitude journal, people? Yeah. You need it every day.

Alison (00:41:54) – Every day. Wake up as soon as your eyes open. Three things you’re grateful for.

Nicole (00:41:58) – Yeah, 100%. Yeah.

Alison (00:42:00) – And express it to others. It’s those little things. It’s. It doesn’t have to be a $250 award, you know, to show appreciation, Merit award. It can be, you know, hey, thank you for how you handle that presentation. That was great.

Nicole (00:42:18) – Yeah. And it made my life easier because you’re on my team and. Lord knows that’s what I need is somebody to help me make life easier. And, I mean, I think we can really bond together and do these things. All right. So I love this model on this page. And so, you know, my listeners are like, Nicole, I’m going to get the book, but I know Alison has one more nugget for me, one little tasty nugget.

What would be the final thing that you would wrap a bow on our little podcast and tell people, here’s another thing you need to know. Or here’s your next steps. Or all the above.

Alison (00:42:53) – Yeah, yeah. you know, I would say that one of the words that comes to mind for me is energy. What energy are you showing up with each day? And it ties so much into the vibrant culture and the vibrant leadership. I just absolutely love that, Nicole, because you think of vibrant, the word vibrant and this energy, this motion, the bouncing off of something, it’s alive. And so I think if we can keep tabs on where our energy is, like, and it varies some days our energy, I’m not always talking about physical energy, but are we bringing a positive energy or are we bringing a compassionate energy? Are we stuck in a very disempowered energy state? The energy that we bring is really going to be a huge determinant of how we are as a leader, our happiness in life, how our relationships go. So I guess, just maybe that little nugget of just trying to tap into what is that energy that you are encompassing and bringing? Because as you said, Nicole, people are going to feel it. They’re going to feed off of it, and it’s either going to be something that’s going to leave them feeling better and brighter or not. So just really getting in touch with your energy. Is your energy negative? Is your energy sad? Is your energy disempowered? Is your energy vibrant? Is your energy fun? You know, it is empowering but really starting to think about that. And it’s tough. It’s tough to try to really evaluate that. But I think it’s something that if we are more aware of the energy we’re bringing, then we start to just be more intentional. We can change our energy state if we’re bringing a negative energy and if we’re aware enough and we’re willing to say, you know what, I am bringing a negative energy. We can do something about it. We can shift into a more positive state through true gratitude. We can shift our energy state. So let’s, I think, be aware of what energy we are bringing because it makes all the difference. Not just for others, but for ourselves.

Nicole (00:45:00) – Major nugget. Major nugget: I love it. Yes. So, you know, here’s our challenge to you all.  Here’s the thing. We all stand in choice. We’re so lucky. I don’t know about you. I live in Concord, North Carolina, one of the most beautiful places on the planet, believe it or not. And here’s how we met, everybody. Alison, was sitting right next to me at the Frederick SHRM, the society for Human Resource Management. I went up there and gave a little talk on recruiting, and she’s sitting right next to me. She’s like, oh, you know, I may do the same thing. I got a book. I’m like, girl, you got to be on my podcast. So here she is. So yeah. So it was a little God wink that she’s with us today. So that’s awesome.

Alison (00:45:40) – And you said, come on down to North Carolina..

Nicole (00:45:43) – I did! I’ve got, hey people, I have guest rooms. Call me, come and we’ll sit on the back porch and we’ll have a great time. All right. It’s been another amazing episode of the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. And hey everybody, one last plug for Alison’s book. Allison C. Jones. It’s Character Leadership. If nothing else, go to the website. Tell us the website again.

Alison (00:46:05) – Yeah. So, Don’t forget that “us” and don’t forget it’s three “’S’s” for wellness society. Smart, sassy, and successful.

Nicole  (00:46:17) – She’s the queen of alliteration, too.

Alison (00:46:19) – Yeah, I love the alliteration. It helps me remember everything I think is the reason why. But if you do the backslash after that leadership dash or hyphen, whatever it is, leadership dash style dash quiz, then you can take the leadership style quiz and get some results.

Nicole (00:46:36) – Yep, yep. And then you might even hear a little follow up from Alison. Let her help you, help your teams, help your organizations become vibrant. It’s been so good to have you on the show. Thank you so much, Alison.

Alison (00:46:50) – Thank you. Nicole, it’s been a pleasure.

Voice Over (00:46:52) – Thank you for joining us on this episode of The Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. If you found value in today’s episode, please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. Your feedback helps us improve and reach more like minded listeners. Remember, the journey to building a vibrant culture never stops. Stay inspired. Keep nurturing your vibrant culture and we can’t wait to reconnect with you on the next exciting episode of Build a Vibrant Culture podcast.

Posted in

Leave a Comment



arrow right down

Name the challenge you're facing in your culture, and I will help you solve it.

From executive coaching, culture-shifting workshops, or long-term partnerships, my work is to help you develop your next leaders.

I was fortunate to learn this early from an exceptional leader. She took an eager, overconfident new hire and developed me into a capable leader.

I went on to lead marketing & training for 80+ sites across the U.S. Later, I went out and got almost every credential in leadership development you’ve heard of. (see the list)

Since that time, I’ve joined organizations in almost every industry to build VIBRANT CULTURES where employees take initiative and true ownership in their work.

Let’s build your leadership development strategy together.



I'm really interested in...
(select all that apply)*