The Power of the Porch


Connection & Leadership

Last month, my team and I gathered together with an executive team whose members came from all parts of the globe for an offsite meeting. As the facilitator, I knew the time together had to be powerful, high-energy, and valuable in order to warrant three days away from the office for this group of hard-working, high-performing leaders.

The time together was a huge success no matter how we measured it. Survey results were overwhelmingly positive. The buzz in the room throughout the three days was palpable. Over dinner one night one executive said to me, “You and your team are the Rolls-Royce of team facilitation.”

And … while this was wonderful to witness and hear, the reason the time was as powerful as it was could be summed up in one word: connection. Participants talked about how energizing it was to have time to self-reflect (connect with themselves), enjoy their colleagues (connect with others), and learn ways to become even more successful (connect with a purpose). The goal of our work is to help our clients experience the power of connection because connection is the antidote to so much of what trips us up in our personal and work relationships.

Turn the ghosts that haunt you into ancestors who accompany you. That takes hard work and a lot of love but it’s the way we lessen the burdens our children have to carry.

Bruce Springsteen

We are wired to connect. When connection is slim, nowhere to be found, or of the wrong kind, people can fall into various states of depression often resulting in compromised performance, isolation, denial, disengagement, and addiction.

We all need safe containers that allow us to reflect, heal, and prosper even as we continue to have missteps. People can thrive when they have healthy, mindful, and trustworthy connections. It is connection, not correction that we need.Progress, not perfection.

A family-owned business with which we have had the privilege of partnering for many a moon invests in its culture and leadership by harnessing the power of connection in a variety of ways. Recently, I had two of the executives and their wives over for dinner. As we sat on the porch talking about our work together and our personal journeys, the CEO said “This time on the porch is what we try to do at the office: provide a place where people can truly be themselves. I would never leave this porch if I did not have to.”

He and his executive team, along with so many of our clients, believe in creating the “porch-experience” at work: an experience that invites people to return to their true selves, be accountable and honest, share their stories so they free themselves from whatever it is that keeps them stuck in damaging patterns, and as a result, enhance the kind of leadership that transforms businesses and lives.

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Karen Hardwick brings decades of expertise to her work as a trusted advisor and coach to C-level and senior executives, their teams, and organizations.

Karen is known for sharing her own life-stories with clients in order to role-model transparency, foster connection and empathy, and enhance success. She has created a unique model for deepening connection — The Connected Leader™ — which gets to the core of a company and its people with compassion, intuition, and business savvy. Her upcoming book, The Connected Leader, is filled with her powerful voice and inspires others to lead with emotional wholeness, spiritual strength, and mental well-being in order to become their best selves and help others do the same.

Karen lives in Atlanta with her husband, Greg, and their 17-year-old son, Matthew, where she can be found around the table with friends and family eating nourishing, home-cooked meals and sharing stories. She is the biggest contributor to the family ‘swear jar,’ despite her daily practice of meditation and prayer. And above all, Karen believes that living a life of connection is courageous; a sacred calling that requires all we’ve got.

Karen J. Hardwick, M.Div., MSW


The Power of Connection

Karen is currently writing a book about how the power of connection can transform leaders into catalysts, groups into teams, and businesses into places where people lean in to courage, clarity, and compassion.

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