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Muddy Boots         

The Wear Muddy Boots Blog

Muddy Boots Blog

Leadership never comes from sitting behind a desk....you need to get your boots muddy and get in the field with your employees, customers, clients, vendors, and stakeholders. The more you listen the more you learn. The individual closest to the action generally knows the real story. 

I have been a manager for 40 years, starting with IBM and now leading a non-profit, Episcopal Community Services, in what I hope will be my last professional chapter.  I have a fair amount of scar tissue, which I have come to learn is the best teacher. Leadership can be about talk and vision, but it is way more about deeds. For what it's worth, here are some of my thoughts on the subject of leadership, muddy boots and other stuff I find interesting. 

Thank you for your interest and I welcome your comments and exchange. Ideas and views are better when shared.


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I will not stand in the way of the Meeting.

Posted by griffithd on November 16, 2019 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

One of the many benefits of living where we live is there is a long and deep Quaker tradition and active practice. To be clear I am not Quaker, but our children attended a Quaker school, kindergarten through eighth grade. I was asked to clerk the development committee and in turn sat on the school committee. I called a good friend who is a Quaker and asked a few questions after my first meeting. What’s a clerk? Someone who chairs a committee, but does not lead. What do they mean by a ...

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Run to the Fire

Posted by griffithd on October 16, 2019 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)


If you are reading this, you are, or are about to be,  a stakeholder in Episcopal Community Services.


First we say thank you for your commitment and support of our work. You often ask us for the elevator speech on Episcopal Community Services. It strikes us that our annual report letter is an excellent place to share that story.


ECS is a 150-year-old social service agency that has always “run to the fire,” fighting some of the...

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Unconditional Love

Posted by griffithd on October 6, 2019 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I

I am sitting on the bench in our kitchen overlooking our garden. The garden is in that October transition from vibrant greens to fall browns and reds. The dog is asleep next to me curled in the shape of my leg and breathing in a deep and slow rhythm. It is that Sunday time after church but before the Eagles game, all under a fall grey sky. The coffee always tas...

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The Interview

Posted by griffithd on September 1, 2019 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)


When I graduated from college and interviewing for my first job, I was fortunate to get an interview with IBM. One of the meetings was with a branch manager in New York City. I walked into his office, and he was sitting behind his desk, I sat in front. Early on in the interview he pulled out of his desk a set of wooden-handled rubber tubed stretching exercisers called a pull apart. W...

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This is your time

Posted by griffithd on August 16, 2019 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I played hockey. I quit when I was 37. I remain a fan. To me, it is still the greatest game on the planet. If you are a fan and if you are old enough, you know where you were in 1980.


My wife and I were in the car on I95 driving to a friend’s house for dinner, and we were listening on the radio to the 1980 Olympics and the semi-final game between the USA and the Soviet Union. In a match for the ages, the US beat the Soviet national team and went on to win the Gold med...

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We are all Baltimore

Posted by griffithd on August 3, 2019 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

As one who works in a historic Philadelphia social service agency focused on the issues of intergenerational poverty and the associated solutions for individuals and families, and as one calling for us as a nation to join the movement to address poverty with intentional actions and investment, https/www.wearmuddyboots.com/apps/blog/show/46936679-the-movement, I cannot sit quietly while the President tweets and speaks not as a leader of all Americans, but in language that is racially changed ...

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The Movement

Posted by griffithd on July 9, 2019 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The Movement

I work at a one of the oldest social service agencies in Philadelphia. For 150 years we have run to the fire and served some of the most vulnerable individuals in our City. The elderly, the homeless, youth, individuals and families experiencing poverty and deep poverty, many over generations. There is no question that our work saved lives, improved immediate situations, and eased the pain of being in crisis when no obvious solution was apparent. For many social service agen...

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Talent Matters

Posted by griffithd on July 3, 2019 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Over the years, I have been asked about what makes for a successful business or organization. Many answers come to mind. Product, service, marketing, strategy, capital, technology, values, culture, and the list could go on.

However, in my experience, the number one factor and the one that the great CEO’s focus on is Talent.

So the identification, the acquisition, the care and feeding, and the development of Talent is vital. You could be overloaded in all of the other succe...

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Tight Lines

Posted by griffithd on June 8, 2019 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)



As many of you know in recent years, I have rediscovered fly fishing. Much is written about the Zen of fly fishing, so I am not going to go there. I have written some on that subject in the past. https/www.wearmuddyboots.com/apps/blog/show/45693167-on-the-water

Instead, I have been looking for connections and insights from being on the water, my work at Episcopal Community Services, my work with t...

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Muddy Boots Basics

Posted by griffithd on May 21, 2019 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Last week I had the opportunity to speak to an assembled group of leaders of family businesses sponsored by the Delaware Valley Family Business Center. They asked me to share my perspective, aka scar tissue, on the attributes of leadership observed over my years in business and my service as a board chair with privately held for-profit organizations.

I shared five core attributes.

Muddy Boots. Leaders who put on their Muddy Boots and go into the field and listen to the answers to ...

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May 1st

Posted by griffithd on May 2, 2019 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

On May 1, 2019 I was elected by my fellow board members to be the next Chairmen of the Academy of Natural Science of Drexel University effective July 1, 2019. I am humbled and honored by this call and I am energized by the challenge given to all of us to be “A force for nature”. Ironically May 1st also marks six years as the Head Coach at Episcopal Community Services.

I have two passions as I go about my final professional chapter after forty plus years in the for profit wo...

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deg muddy boots consulting

Posted by griffithd on April 20, 2019 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

My board, speaking and consulting fees go to fund the nonprofits Jacqui and I support. At the urging of you all I am posting the deg muddy boots consulting site. I work with several individuals in this work and you can refer us where you see a fit or if you are like minded you can join us.

What we do.

"deg muddy boots" consulting provides tested advice and counsel to family businesses and nonprofits. Services include leadership development, strategy creation and review, team align...

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Leadership Matters

Posted by griffithd on April 3, 2019 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

“It is hard to be accountable for history that you did not make. However, it is even harder to be accountable for the history that you will make.”

It is popular in the current political environment to look at the historical record and find an explanation for today’s ills. Poverty, Race, Economic Inequity, Climate Change, Gender differentials to name a few across the spectrum. One hears in the current call for restitution to right historical ills a call for accountabili...

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So you want to run a nonprofit ?

Posted by griffithd on March 23, 2019 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)


After 37 years of working in the for-profit world, I was asked to lead a nonprofit social service agency in Philadelphia. Having made the switch from CEO to Executive Director, I get asked about the differences from individuals thinking about making a similar transition as a final professional chapter and what they ought to consider.

So after 6 years here is my list.

1. Talent Matters. In both sectors the better the talent, the better the outcomes. Historically nonpr...

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"Time, like an ever rolling stream"

Posted by griffithd on February 24, 2019 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

There are moments in all of our lives that are touchstone moments. We all know where we were if you are old enough when JFK got shot, when Armstrong stepped on the moon, 911.

There are also touchstone moments that are more personal when you met your spouse, the birth of a child, a wedding.

Then there are those that are markers, moments when you will never look at life the same way again. Your first paycheck, the first time you experience death, the day you “arrived,” t...

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A Patagonia Lesson

Posted by griffithd on February 11, 2019 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)


I have been away from Philadelphia for 12 days traveling in the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina with my spouse and a small group. This is a trip that requires hiking boots, rain gear and because of the wind, layers even though it is summer. It does not need a jacket or bow tie for anything.

Patagonia is in the very southern part of South America on the Magellan St...

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A Storm in America

Posted by griffithd on January 17, 2019 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Poverty in America is not unlike lightning that comes in the middle of a summer night.

You lie in bed the windows open. It is dark but you wake to the rumble of what could be distant fireworks, but it is not July. If the shades are open, you might catch a flash of light over the horizon followed again by that rumble.

Slowly, but not that slowly, the rumble grows louder and the flashes more distinct. You grow more awake and a primal fear grows.

The air grows moist and you be...

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Face Book Live 1.9.2019

Posted by griffithd on January 6, 2019 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)

On 1/7/19 I will be participating in a Face Book Live event in my role as Head Coach at Episcopal Community Services. Our chief of programs, Arley Styer, and I will be fielding a number of questions about our agency and our work and some of the challenges our participants face. I thought I would share some of the questions and our responses. The FB Live will be posted, but in case you miss here are some of the points we will be covering.

1. Why do we need to innovate in this sector?

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