MasterMinds Leadership is proud to announce the opening of our East Coast office in Virginia Beach, Virginia! We welcome our newest team member, Dr. MaryJo Burchard, the Vice President of Strategic Leadership, who oversees our services on the East Coast.
Dr. Burchard works to help leaders clarify and focus on what's most important to them, optimizing their personal and professional effectiveness through data-driven coaching and training.
As an integral part of the MasterMinds Leadership team, she continues to develop resources to help people map out their contribution and needs in times of upheaval, change, and crisis.
“The greatest gift we can give to others is genuine care and connection,” Burchard says.
Dr. Burchard works tirelessly to help leaders in public sector, business, education, and nonprofits develop behaviors and interactions that increase effectiveness by raising the bar of wholehearted, caring engagement and building teams that are optimally ready for change and uncertainty whenever it hits.
MasterMinds Leadership’s President Dr. Phillip Shero said, “I’ve known and admired Dr. Burchard since 2010 as an innovative researcher and skillful practitioner of human-centered leadership. She brings tremendous authenticity and energy to her work and is a perfect fit with our people-first values.”
To introduce Dr. Burchard and welcome her to the team, Shero sat down for an interview with her. Read about her passions, plans, and professionalism she brings to the MasterMinds Leadership team below, in the first of the Dr. Burchard Interview Series.
Part 2 discussed the process of change readiness, as an individual and as an organization, and you can read that article here.
In Part 3 of the Dr. Burchard Interview Series, MaryJo talked about how organizational culture defines employee engagement, and you can read that article here.
In the fourth and final part of the Dr. Burchard Interview Series, MaryJo discusses how to motivate a diverse work environment. Read here.
Interview Part 1
Shero: Mary Jo, your background is an unusual blend of education and industry, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you bridge the worlds of academic theory and practical application.
Burchard: Higher education has a unique ability to feed and sharpen people's curiosity. It can help people take questions like "I wonder if," or "I wonder why," and convert them into things that can be measured, and data-driven solutions.
My time in higher ed has challenged me to continuously work on getting better at asking the right questions to solve the right problems. You can get really good at solving the wrong problems, and still end up with the core issue unresolved. For me, that is how the two worlds of higher education and organizational consulting come together:
"I can effectively take your curiosity and put tools in your hands that will help identify and solve core, root issues rather than serving cough medicine for lung cancer."
Shero: You are known for bringing a holistic human perspective to leadership and organizations. Why should leaders give attention to the human side of business?
Burchard: That’s a really important question. I wish more people thought more about this, because it’s easy to look really nice and neat on paper with all the little boxes, and the pyramids and the charts. But every one of those boxes on the work chart is a human being that comes to work every day with passions, gifts, baggage, AND stuff that they need to get done as soon as they get home.
When you are just engaging with a position rather than a human being, you are not going to be able to engage on more than a quid pro quo level of investment with that human being.
When people are engaged, they have significantly better outputs than people who are disengaged. Whatever role we are playing, whatever position and responsibilities we have, we are human beings first. When people feel treated like human beings, they are willing to give more than their job description requires. So, it's actually good business to humanize employees, rather than seeing them as tools to get jobs done.
"When people feel seen, heard, and valued as human beings, they will give what they are not required to give: their hearts."
Shero: Connected to that, one of your well-known hashtags online is #unbreaktheworld. What can leaders do to create a better environment for humans at work?
Burchard: Yes, I love that hashtag! It’s our family motto – to unbreak the world. Look for something that is broken, start where you are, and use what you have to unbreak it. Work on getting something better in little pieces. It’s not trying to fix everything at once, but it’s finding what you can see, and using what you have – right where you are – to make something better.
Sometimes when leaders come in and see all the things that need to be fixed, all the systemic problems, it can feel insurmountable.
I am reminded of Mother Teresa who said, “When I look at the human ocean of need, sometimes it is intimidating to see that all I have is just one little drop in the ocean. But I’m still going to give my drop.” I think there is infinitely more power in our little decisions that we make every day to make something better than endlessly working to fix the big, systematic problems.
The principle behind #unbreaktheworld is to find one small thing that is right in front of you, the person that is right in front of you, the issue that’s right in front of you and say, “How can I engage with this thing using only what is in my hand right now to make this a positive engagement? What can I do right now to fix this one thing?”
When it comes down to it, work culture is a collection of the relationships within the organization. Relationships are the culmination of interactions between human beings. Every time you interact with another person in an organization, you are doing something to either reinforce or challenge the current culture. The #unbreaktheworld principle is a challenge to start right where you are, using what you have to engage with whatever is happening right now, and make it as beautiful as you can. The ripple effect is infinite.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the rest of the interview to learn more about Dr. Burchard’s views on organizational culture, her televised segment on understanding motivation, inclusion and diversity, and her work on change readiness.
Dr. Burchard holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership (with an additional emphasis in Ecclesial Leadership) from Regent University; an MA in Leadership and Organizational Development, a graduate certificate in Peacemaking and Conflict Studies in the Workplace, and a BA in Management and Organizational Development from Fresno Pacific University.