Annie McKee, Ph.D.
Annie McKee is a bestselling business book author and advisor to top global leaders, from CEOs of Fortune 50 companies to government officials South Africa. In 2005, BusinessWeek named her in their Top 100 Leaders issue as an Executive Coach, but Annie's journey to becoming one of the world’s top advisors on leadership has hardly been conventional. It has been full of risky moves and unconventional choices. McKee will tell you it is a journey in which she learned to believe in the power of hope.
Born in England, McKee spent her childhood in Ithaca, New York. She graduated from high school at 16, turned down a scholarship to study nuclear physics and took off for California, and later Hawaii. There McKee worked in community organizing, struggled on public assistance and cared for her three small children, before deciding that college was a must. At 28, she enrolled at a community college and then Chaminade University where, while attending classes, raising a family and working, she graduated summa cum laude. By then a single mom, McKee and her small children next moved to Cleveland where she earned a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University.
While she dismisses the enormity of this accomplishment, McKee instead cites what she considers the true triumph of this time in her life, saying, "I never missed a play, or a game, or any event that mattered to my kids. Every moment and all the effort was worth it. What allowed me to live through these difficult times, really, was hope. Hope that things would improve, hope that I would find a better place and ultimately, that I would help others create a better world for us all."
Armed with her degrees, McKee began to teach, and to study and write about leadership. She was invited to take a position at Wharton, and asked to help the University of Pennsylvania’s senior team bring about a large scale organizational change at the University. All the while, she was building relationships with leaders in other organizations, consulting with them on leadership and change.
Then, along with millions of Americans who were brought to their knees by the image of the flaming World Trade Centers on 9/11, McKee had another defining moment in her already remarkable life.
"I was scheduled to meet with a senior executive in the South Tower on 9/11 and I had rescheduled at almost the last minute," something she says was difficult because she rarely, if ever, cancels her commitments. "I stood at a window high above Madison Avenue just before 9 AM, and I saw the whole thing. Days later and when I finally stopped crying, I felt a profound sense of urgency to realize my own dream of contributing to leaders around the globe."
While there are virtually thousands of tragic stories from that day, McKee says that witnessing the terrorist attacks was the catalyst for the most important — and positive — decision of her life. Almost immediately, with friend and business partner Fran Johnston, Annie formed Teleos Leadership Institute, a consulting firm with a mission of developing values-based leadership and resonant organizations. The global leadership development firm works with executives from all walks — energy to media, finance to governments — to help them better understand themselves and the impact of their actions, words, and attitudes not only on themselves, or even their leadership, but on everyone around them. She and her team travel the world consulting to and coaching many of the world’s most influential leaders and organizations. Clients who have benefitted from Teleos services include, among others, Thomson-Reuters, UniCredit Group, United Nations Development Program, Unilever, Viacom, Vodafone, PR Newswire and Creative Commons.
McKee has co-authored groundbreaking books on leadership, including Primal Leadership (Harvard, 2002, with Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis) and Resonant Leadership (Harvard, 2005 with Boyatzis). Another popular book, Becoming a Resonant Leader was published by Harvard in March, 2008 with Boyatzis and Teleos co-founder Frances Johnston. Annie’s newest book, Management: A Focus on Leaders (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2011) is a groundbreaking college textbook that revolutionizes the way management is taught and learned.
She serves as Adjunct Professor at the Graduate School of Education at University of Pennsylvania, and teaches at the Wharton School’s Aresty Institute of Executive Education as well as Brookings Executive Education with leaders in the U.S. Federal government. Annie also serves on the Board of Center for Social and Emotional Competency at University of the Pacific as well as the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute. Annie also supports her global community by sponsoring the education of a host of talented young people in the developing world and mentoring young leaders.
Her address has changed and the mode of delivery for her message is different these days, but McKee's mission has hardly wavered. "My mission is to, one by one, with leader after leader, help others embrace the hope that carried me through my life. If I can help people experience hope and find their dreams, and give them the power to realize them, I will consider my life worthwhile."
Annie McKee received her doctorate in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University and her baccalaureate degree, summa cum laude, from Chaminade University of Honolulu. She continues the study of her discipline with the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland and the Institut für Gestaltorientierte Organisationsberatung of Frankfurt, Germany.
Annie is married to Eddy Mwelwa, and they have four children, Rebecca, Sean, Sarah, and Andrew.
Books & Articles
THE HUFFINGTON POST
Balance Yourself, Not Work and Life
February 19, 2012
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW
How to Neutralize Your Toxic Boss
September 24, 2008
Good Bye Adam Smith, Hello Emotional Intelligence: How Awareness and Empathy Just Might Save the Planet
June 20, 2011
2012 HRPS GLOBAL CONFERENCE
Come See Annie McKee Speak at the 2012 HR People & Strategy May Event in NYC
May 6 - 9, 2012
Annie McKee shares what resonant leaders do to build strong teams, a resonant culture, and a climate that fosters innovation.