Gary Heil Profile Photo

Gary Heil

WSB Exclusive Speaker

Founder, The Center for Innovative Leadership and Author

Gary Heil, an internationally recognized expert on service and leadership, helps organizations see things as they really are—not as people wish they were—in order to create lasting change.

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Gary Heil'S SPEAKING FEE Under $25,000

Gary Heil Profile Photo

Gary Heil is an author, educator, lawyer, consultant, and coach. For the last four decades, he has been an ardent student of the human side of organizations. He was a pioneer in the study of employee engagement and loyal customer relationships, and he remains a vocal and passionate advocate for finding more effective ways to lead inspired teams.

Heil is the co-founder of the Center for Innovative Leadership, where he continues to advise leaders in a wide range of industries on cultural issues. He has served on a number of public and private Boards, including Gymboree, Red Envelope, and Front Range Solutions. He presently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Cell Tech Metals.

Heil has spent the last decade engaged in a study of more than 700 leaders, trying to better ascertain why many leaders have difficulty making the rhetoric of better leadership a reality, and what separates exemplary leaders and inspired teams from the merely good ones. The results of this study are the basis for his recent book Choose Love Not Fear: How the Best Leaders Build Cultures of Engagement and Innovation that Unleash Human Potential, released in Spring 2020.

He is the co-author of a number of bestselling books including Leadership and the Customer Revolution, One Size Fits One, Maslow on Management, The Leader’s New Clothes, and Revisiting the Human Side of Enterprise.

Heil’s journey has been a diverse one. In addition to his consulting and coaching roles, he was the co-founder and CEO of the National Pitching Association, where he teamed up with a number of Hall of Fame players and coaches to help young athletes play more effectively without injury. He has served as an Examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and as SafeLife’s Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer. He co-founded the webcast “Leadership Lessons from the Fast Lane,” and early in his career, he navigated a Polar icebreaker from pole to pole.

Heil is a graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy. He received a Master’s degree in Organizational Behavior and a Juris Doctor degree from The University of California, Hastings College of Law.

Featured Videos

Gary Heil Profile Photo
Gary Heil

Gary Heil on How Your Environment Influences Your Behavior

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Gary Heil

Gary Heil on Changing Yourself to Face the Future

Gary Heil Profile Photo
Gary Heil

Managing Transitions with Gary Heil

Gary Heil Profile Photo
Gary Heil

Gary Heil on Mindfulness

Gary Heil Profile Photo
Gary Heil

Gary Heil on Creative Thinking

Gary Heil Profile Photo
Gary Heil

Gary Heil on the Need for Certainty

Gary Heil Profile Photo
Gary Heil

Gary Heil on Being Better than You Were Yesterday

Gary Heil’s Speech Topics

  • Choose Love, Not Fear: How the Best leaders Build Cultures of Engagement and Innovation

    As innovation becomes the only sustainable competitive advantage for most organizations, the need for a more inclusive, more human way to lead has become more apparent and more necessary. Yet, despite this universal recognition of the need for leadership innovation and cultural change, many organizations seem to be moving in exactly the opposite direction.

    • Why, despite $50B a year in investment and decades of effort, have we made so little progress in developing better leaders?
    • Why, despite all the investment of time and treasure, are two-thirds of employees still not highly engaged. And why do nearly a fifth of them work to undermine organizational goals?
    • What separates exemplary leaders from the merely good ones?
    • If innovation is so valuable, why do so many leaders talk of the need for creativity but then punish creative expression?
    • How must leaders change to be effective in a world where technology has rendered leaders more necessary and less powerful?

    For the last decade, Gary has led a team to try and find answers to these challenges, interviewing more than 700 leaders on three continents. The findings of this study form the foundation of his new book Choose Love Not Fear in which he reveals what he’s learned from some of today’s most successful leaders – from the teachers transforming classrooms and coaches winning national championships to the world’s top business leaders effectively competing in today’s rapidly-evolving environment.

    In this session, attendees will understand how great teams and great leaders differ from the merely good ones as they learn practical ways to build a culture that supports unleashing human potential. Attendees are challenged to rhetoric of great leadership with concerted action in each of the following areas:

    • Create a cause worthy of people’s commitment
    • Ensure the right people are on the team and the wrong people are off
    • Create a culture where people’s best is the standard
    • Ensure mutual accountability
    • Learn to Love Different
    • Seek Commitment and not Compliance
    • Embrace Vulnerability.

  • Leaders are in the Opportunity Business: Inviting Employees to Engage

    Today, few would disagree that employee engagement is fundamental to the future success of any organization. Yet, despite the universal agreement of the need for greater engagement, most do not share a common definition of the term, a method for assessing the level of engagement nor a theory for increasing engagement among people on their teams. In this session, Heil will share his experiences in working with exemplary teams and discuss:

    • How HIGH Levels of engagement correlate with organizational success;
    • How engagement relates to intrinsic motivation;
    • Why and How present people practices can undermine engagement;
    • Why engaged people and teams are almost always actively learning;
    • How engagement is a prerequisite to innovation and creative contribution; and
    • How SMART goals can inhibit engagement and innovation.

    Attendees will leave this session with practical ideas about how to increase individual and team engagement and how effective leadership will need to innovate in the future.

  • Leadership in the Age of Social Media: How Great Leaders Thrive in an Era Where Leaders are Less Powerful and More Necessary

    If there is one trend in the study of leadership that has been consistent over the last half-century, it is the transfer of power from those who traditionally have held the power to those who, in the past, have had little.

    Technology-driven change has accelerated in recent years and is making it nearly impossible to be effective simply imitating the leadership practices of generations past. For those who have advocated for ‘people practices’ that are both more human and more effective, their time has come. The final chapter of command and control leadership is being written and the future belongs to those leaders who learn to influence through the power of their relationships and not their positions. In this session, Heil will share his experiences in coaching leaders for more than four decades and will discuss:

    • How accelerations in technology are changing the way we must think about effective leadership;
    • How traditional notions of leadership have been too hierarchical and leader-centric;
    • How generational changes are changing the kind of organizational cultures that will be required to sustain future success;
    • How there is a leadership role for everyone in the organization;
    • Why all influence is relational and how this will transform future leadership practices;
    • Why our leadership talk has rarely matched our leadership actions— and what we can do about it.

    In this session, Heil will propose 7 leadership ideas that we have known for decades but can no longer afford to ignore. Especially relevant for leaders of young and changing companies, attendees will leave this session with a better understanding of what will be required to influence in a world where people can connect with anyone, anytime instantaneously.

  • Creating Culture Change One Person and One Habit at a Time

    The culture of an organization is the result of the shared values and beliefs of the group. Except in times of crisis, culture change is almost always more difficult than most people think. Culture is sticky. It doesn’t change easily. Culture resists change contrary to the existing culture. Culture rarely changes from the top down. Culture changes when a group of people summon the courage to take a different route into the future. In this session, Heil will share his experiences in working with organizations committed to changing their existing cultures and how every person shares responsibility for helping to transform the cultures in which they perform. He will discuss:

    • Why we often underestimate the pressures inherent in the present culture.
    • Why the most impactful aspects of culture are often tacit, unarticulated, underappreciated and, therefore, harder to change;
    • Why culture change is messy and requires conflict that must be anticipated and managed;
    • Why it is difficult to understand the present culture of the organization while you are living inside that organization;
    • How culture can be measured quickly and inexpensively; and
    • How culture can be transformed by leaders (regardless of position) who are willing to change present practices in pursuit of a shared cause.

    Attendees will leave this presentation with a framework for creating culture change no matter their position in the organization.

  • The Future of Human Resources: Taking a New Road Less Traveled

    In a world where Innovation is the most valuable currency and engagement is fundamental to future success, it is time for ‘people practices’ to become more consistent with what we know about why people make commitments— and why they don’t make commitments. The future will require that HR practices support the fair and less fearful administration of practices while supporting higher levels of learning and growth. In this session, Heil will discuss:

    • How HR professionals can more effectively measure and manage culture;
    • How to develop Performance Management Processes that are more effective and more equitable;
    • How to morph recruiting practices to help accelerate an organization’s abilities to be more adaptive and creative;
    • How leadership development must innovate to be effective; and
    • Why most organizations need to develop a new theory of employee engagement that can be measured and managed, along with takeaways for putting a plan in place.

What other organizations say about Gary Heil

Gary personalized his messages for our unique government contracting situation. He showed passion and humor and kept the audience’s rapt attention. Thanks for helping us make a better conference by having Gary speak!


What other organizations say about Gary Heil

The leadership message was a great takeaway for many…and I think we hit a home run. Just about everyone said they thoroughly enjoyed his engaging style, fun stories, relevant message and importantly the key actionable takeaways. The balance in terms of message and style for the ending was just right.


What other organizations say about Gary Heil

Gary Heil’s presentation helped us a great deal. He gave the members the kind of insight they needed to better understand the issues and carry out their future planning.


What other organizations say about Gary Heil

People were particularly impressed by your powerful delivery and the clarity of your examples, as well as how well they related to their own customer satisfaction situations and issues.


What other organizations say about Gary Heil

Gary delivers a call to action. He tells us we have to stop talking about change and start making it happen. Heil is candid and tough, and filled with provocative ideas and smart suggestions.



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