Ballinger | Leafblad: Lifting Up Leadership
Driven by Transparency, Inclusiveness and Equity
Oct 16, 2019

Photos & Video by Ryan Stopera

Meet the entrepreneurs behind Ballinger | Leafblad: Dr. Marcia Ballinger and Lars Leafblad. These two Pollenites are behind one of the 12 purpose-driven businesses that have come together in support of Pollen’s mission to change our collective story for the better. Together, they challenge Pollenites to raise $20,000 by Give to the Max Day on November 14, which they will match dollar for dollar. 

Match the hive and donate today.


All About Ballinger | Leafblad

Ballinger | Leafblad works with organizations who believe that including more voices and perspectives in an executive hiring process is the right approach to finding new leaders. These organizations prioritize transparency, inclusiveness, and equity in their approach to executive hiring and leadership transitions. 

Marcia and Lars prioritize sharing the impact and stories of their civic client organizations as part of their outreach. “We believe this can change the collective narrative of what our communities see as possible,” says Lars. “We also actively work to lift up, highlight, connect, and nominate individuals from under-represented or marginalized communities.”

“Search firms sometimes have a reputation of being competitive internally,” says Marcia. “We don’t have a trace of that. We truly respect, enjoy, and value each other as partners, friends, and colleagues.”

If you happen to walk by their office you might hear Marcia’s world-class whistling or Lars’s less than world-class attempts at re-enacting a Broadway musical number.

POLLEN: Ballinger | Leafblad has been around for five years now. How do you think about your impact in the civic sector over that time?

We draw energy and inspiration from watching the leaders we’ve recruited to our clients over the past five years bring transformative change and impact to those organizations. 

Some things we think about: How have we stewarded and shared the privileges and opportunities we’ve been given? Have we paid it forward to others? Have we opened doors of possibility for others? 


POLLEN: How do you go beyond transactional relationships to build real connection and meaning in your networks?

We provide structured feedback calls for candidates not selected by our clients to advance in an interview process.

Marcia provides an hour every Wednesday morning from 8 to 9 am CT to take one-on-one phone calls about networking, career counsel, and interviewing. 

We do what we say we will do.
We admit when we made a mistake.
We ask for help.
We lift others up.
We seek to pay it forward.



POLLEN: What do you think is the secret to connecting across difference?

Humility – Being willing to admit when you’ve made a mistake or being willing to ask for clarification for additional information to inform your response to a decision, question, or internal perception or assumption you’re processing. 

Curiosity – Showing a genuine interest in the lived experience, perspective, ideas, and opinions of others you encounter in your life. 

Empathy – Seeking to recognize there are moments where simply acknowledging the discomfort, pain, hurt, or injustice someone is experiencing without attempting to fix, minimize, dismiss, or redirect the emotion(s) present can be life, or career, altering.  

Active listening – Honing the practice of listening to understand versus listening to respond. Asking clarification and follow-up questions when presented with an opportunity or situation to converse across difference(s). 



POLLEN: What is your greatest source of pride in your work?

Seeing potential in others before they see it in themselves. 

Watching the impact leaders we recruit to a client have on the organization and the broader community over time.



Find Ballinger | Leafblad and give them an online hug for supporting Pollen. 

Lars’ Twitter
Marcia’s Twitter
Marcia’s LinkedIn
Lars’ LinkedIn

Posted by Pollen on Oct 16, 2019
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