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Book Club

Blue Toad Cover

CompSource Oklahoma, a leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance in the state since 1933, chose Grateful Leadership as their corporate book club offering as a means of elevating their corporate culture. Sixty people signed up for the experience and received a copy of the book, thanks to the generosity of the company!

When I heard about this initiative from HR Director Erin McDermott, who had read the book and thought it would be an excellent addition to the company’s leadership development initiatives, particularly in light of the significant change CompSource is undergoing as they transition to a mutual insurance company, I nearly jumped up and down with excitement. Then, what really delighted me was the highly organized, five-session program put together by Geoffrey Varner, Learning Development Coordinator — complete with reading assignments and “homework” based on the weekly readings. He also designed a PowerPoint presentation for each session. I loved it so much that I contacted Erin and Geoff and said IIL would be pleased to have me lead an online closing session for the book club members. Much to my delight, all of this happened, and it was one of the most gratifying experiences imaginable.

Over and over, I heard how people were now acknowledging and showing their appreciation to co-workers much more frequently. It was a thrill to realize that this kind of organized, well thought out book club offering has the possibility of changing or enhancing, and even transforming, a company into one with an acknowledgment culture. I also learned that according to participants, there are already some wonderful models of Grateful Leadership in the company, who happened to be at our online event and who received lots of acknowledgment from others

I personally experienced Mark’s wonderfully generous acknowledgment skills when we had an unusual audio problem, that he must have sensed was driving this presenter crazy! He took the opportunity to text everyone in the session with this statement: “I want to acknowledge Judy for her persistence!” Now it’s much easier to acknowledge someone when things are going great, but I never had any idea how much it could mean when things are in the breakdown mode. Participants probably did not realize how much his simple comment meant to me in that moment of instructor’s agony. Of course we got the problem handled, but for a time I was suffering deeply, perfectionist that I am, until Mark texted the group.

IIL truly wishes to acknowledge CompSource Oklahoma for this wonderful initiative they have undertaken. They will have IIL as a resource to support the transformation their people are undergoing and have already undergone, for the long term. With CompSource’s permission, we are able to share an overview of the format of the Grateful Leadership Book Club offering they created in the form of an electronic, internal publication that is distributed to the company’s employees only — about 350 people! Our gratitude goes out to CompSource Oklahoma; we at IIL recommend using this format as the basis for other Grateful Leadership book club offerings.

The above image is the CompSource Oklahoma newsletter cover. Below is the published piece. 

GL Capture Blue Toad

Until the next time…

Judy Umlas


Recommendations from Source America Book Club Facilitator

“I have the honor of facilitating the Emerging Leader’s Book Club series for SourceAmerica affiliates.  The series last for six months with a different book each month.  Each participant reads the same book and we have a monthly conference call to discuss comments, experiences and thoughts relevant to the book’s focus.  The book selection for February 2015 was The Power of Acknowledgment by Judith (Judy) Umlas.  The Emerging book club participants were treated to a great surprise…Judy Umlas, author of the book, joined us for the discussion call.  The discussion was quite engaging and lively with lots of stories of how the power of acknowledgment changed many participants’ approach to interacting with co-workers as well as family members.  Several participants commented that before reading the book, they thought they were giving acknowledgment but, in fact, they were giving praise.  We also learned that while praise is better than no comment, acknowledgment is a deeper, more connective act.  It is interesting that a short book with only seven principles could have such a profound impact on a group of people.  I am certainly grateful that Judy was willing to lend her perspective on the book club discussion call.” 

Sabrina Harmon

Book Club Facilitator


Vienna, VA 


{Please note: Members of the Center for Grateful Leadership have access to a Book Club Q&A PDF that they can use to hold an engaging, high-impact offering with colleagues and in corporate and personal book clubs!}

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