Leadership lessons for any sector, visualized

It’s fascinating to learn from leaders in different sectors. If you’re organizing a conference, it’s a great opportunity to bring in a leader from an unrelated area. That’s why I’m excited to share these graphic recording images about leadership from a recent international mental health and disability conference, because the content is relevant to leaders anywhere.

The opening speaker was Guy Naysmyth at the 2015 International Initiative on Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) and Disability Leadership (IIDL) in Vancouver, Canada. He says that a hero approach to leadership won’t build the future we want, we need powerful, interconnected groups:


Philadelphia City Commissioner Arthur C Evans spoke about managing change for a trauma-informed approach. He wants you to get very clear on “conceptual clarity” while building consensus:

IIMHL trauma informed practice- mental health conferenceEmbrace complexity in problem solving. Dr Diane Finegood says we can’t have ‘cordial hypocrisy’ if we want to solve complex problems. Instead, it needs authentic trust:IIMHL Innovation WEB

Shelagh Rogers was interviewed (on the other side of the microphone!) about her lived experience with mental health, and how she uses her voice for change:

IIMHL Shelagh-Rogers-WEB-mental health

Carol Hopkins shared the role for indigenous traditional knowledge. It supports mental health transformation with its holistic wellness approach, and we can all benefit:

IIMHL Indigenous-Wellness-Systems-WEB-mental health

If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with engagement and process. If that’s also your thing, then you’ll appreciate how this conference had a true focus on engagement, and why graphic recording was a great fit.

graphic scribe mental health
photo by jimmy shootz

We used both digital and paper/analog graphic recording at this event. My colleague Yolanda Liman from Drawing it Out provided fantastic digital graphic recording on her ipad with the disability leadership group (IIDL) – here’s one of the great images. Those images are now online at this link here, and big thanks to Yolanda for her important contribution!


If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with process. Here’s some insights into what happened behind the scenes to integrate visuals for better engagement.

I worked in the ballroom to summarize the mental health event (IIMHL). After each short keynote, participants had facilitated discussions at small tables, followed by a shorter Q&A with everyone. We layered in further reflection by asking people to summarize key insights onto post-it notes that were displayed on an ideas wall. Every two hours we updated the graphic recording display area with 8-foot posters in the foyer and Yolanda put her digital summaries on a TV. These graphic recordings created a conversation area. And, at the end of the event, graphic recording was a unique wrapup: Yolanda and I presented a slideshow on stage, so both conferences could see what the other group discussed.

People in leadership positions attend so many conferences that the events can blend together. Graphic recording and engagement can help the content stand out, and make an event unforgettable.

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