Expert Interview: Renee Moorefield, PhD, MCC

January 16 2018 / by Mari Ryan

The role of leadership in wellbeing initiatives is important. What does it mean for a CEO or manager to lead wellbeing? In this expert interview, Renee Moorefield, PhD, CEO/Founder of Wisdom Works, talks about the role leaders play in wellbeing in the workplace and how organizations are viewing wellbeing.  You can also read our previous blogs on leading wellbeing here.


Mari Ryan: Welcome to the Workplace Wellbeing Essential Series. I’m Mari Ryan, I’m the CEO and founder of Advancing Wellness. It is my pleasure to welcome you to this expert interview, where we explore topics that impact employee wellbeing. My guest today is Renee Moorefield.


Renee is the CEO of Wisdom Works, an organization dedicated to building thriving leaders throughout the world. She’s coached thousands of senior and emerging executives, from Fortune 500 to entrepreneurs, who seek to operate a greater consciousness, wellbeing and internal balance, plus the genitive capabilities to uplift their workplaces, families and communities, and our planet.

Renee chairs the Global Wellness Institute, Wellness at Work Initiative, and she is the author of the leadership blog “Wellbeing and Strategy.” Her 2004 book, Driven by Wealth combines the drive wealth with wellbeing to cultivate healthier organizations and a well world. Renee, I’m so excited to have you with me here today.

Renee Moorefield: I am delighted to be here.

Mari Ryan: Great, thanks. Let’s jump right in and talk a little bit about much of the work, the research that you have done, is at the intersection of wellbeing and leadership. Talk a little bit about what it means for senior leaders and manager to lead from the perspective of wellbeing.

Renee Moorefield: You know, it’s interesting because in the wellness field, we’ll often talk about that intersection being senior leaders and sponsoring wellness initiatives. I think that’s an important role, but when we talk about … when we work with leaders about leading wellbeing, we are getting them to think about integrating the advancement of wellbeing, the upliftment of people on the planet into their core purpose as an organization, their core purpose as senior leaders, their value systems, the way they operate, their management routines, everything people do being exuding the advancement of wellbeing in that much broader definition of wellbeing. I think it’s within that environment that wellness programs, engagement programs, productivity programs – all those kinds of programs can live and work well.

Mari Ryan: That’s great. It sounds like a very different approach than what we might have learned in business school where the focus was on the bottom line and drive to the numbers; this sounds like it’s a much more “people-centric” approach, caring for people. Are you finding that this is becoming more widely adopted? Is it just a few organizations that are doing this? What are you seeing happening around this?

Renee Moorefield: That’s a really good question. I have been seeing it grow the last few decades, so what I [indecipherable - 0:05:56.7] work driven by wealth to integrate these ideas, wealth w-e-a-l-t-h and wellbeing into some new idea. I would say the idea was just beginning in a most significant way, but since [indecipherable - 0:06:13.2] every last couple of decades you see more and more companies, more Fortune 500 companies, and small entrepreneurial businesses, that say of course we have to make money – that’s kind of a given – but that purpose isn’t the purpose that inspires people, and it doesn’t inspire the level of creativity and engagement and energy and potential, human potential that we’re trying to tap into.

For most people, making a profit is, or making money, even in a person’s own life … we know from all the Gallup research, making money in your own life, yes, you need it for security, survival, food, healthcare, all those basics, but it is your connection to something that matters, meaningful, a purpose, a clear reason, relationships in your life, health – those are the things that matter.

This is a more conscious way of doing business. There’s a whole movement of around conscious capitalism, and that would be words that encapsulate what we are talking about.

Mari Ryan: I’m curious, how do you see organizations using their assets to advance wellbeing, both in their organization, and perhaps, more globally?

Renee Moorefield: I think that comes through lots of different mechanisms. One would be – and these are not in any one order, so I’m going to share as I think of them. One is using their brands, their communications and their messaging, to be verbally uplifting. You see in the holiday season that’s common for companies to come out with brands, or when we have a social issue like right now, sexual harassment, or women in the workplace, women in leadership, or issues around the world, globally, that a company says I stand for something that’s more inclusive. I stand for embracing more diversity. I stand for creating a world that works for more people, not just a few. You’ll see in corporations – and I won’t name corporations, I won’t name examples, I can think about three or four, but none are better than the other. Anytime a company says I stand for something, and it is more inclusive and more embracing, and does either brands, communications, through their strategies and initiatives in the community, through their relationships and partnerships in the community.

I’ll give you a quick example of that, which would be Nike Corporation. Nike, around the world, has not only gotten “dinged” for its [indecipherable - 0:14:05.9] about diversity, it’s turned that into taking a stance about being an inclusive workplace, and it has integrated the concepts of embracing diversity into how it hires, how it recruits, how it speaks about who it is, about tapping into and unleashing human potential. It’s turned what could be a very divisive [indecipherable - 0:07:05.3] into a way of being and operating, and presenting itself in the world. That would be a good example.

Nike also did … and of course, it’s partly a sports organization, Nike did some incredible research with a number of institutions around the world that came together in a platform called Designed to Move, and it’s all of the research pulled together that looks at what’s the benefit of just moving. Human beings are designed to move. What’s the benefit of physical activity? Sport, play, just movement, getting up off your chair when you’re sitting at your desk all day. They’ve pulled it together in a platform that now can be used by researchers, by [0:15:23.0], by professionals, and in particular, the education system for children around the world. That’s what I’m talking about.

Any corporation that says we stand for this, and for this, it fosters wellbeing for more people and then turns that into practical strategies to effect change in the world and to tap into an unleashed potential and to serve the planet, knowing that this is a finite resource that we are using – that’s what I’m talking about.

Mari Ryan: That’s good. What I really love hearing about is that organizations are taking this and looking at it within the structure in the system of their own organization and working consciously to use wellbeing as a foundational element to their business model, but that they are also thinking about the impact they have beyond the walls of their own organization through all their own stakeholders, but then to everyone, to the community, to the connection that they have at all levels. I think it is so refreshing to hear that people are consciously working at these efforts, and taking a lot of time, money, and putting a lot of thought into this.



Renee Moorefield: It is astounding. In the last couple of decades one of the biggest shifts I’ve seen is not only companies saying this is not about corporate philanthropy, this about a way of doing business in the world, doing business about doing good. That, too, takes what feels disconnected “I’m going to make money … I’m going to do good,” and says no, these are part and parcel with each other. The second thing we said was that shift between understanding our actions have consequences. Our actions have a ripple effect; now how can we make that a positive ripple? How can we be a net-positive, not just a net neutral organization? Those two ideas are very big ideas when it comes to advancing wellbeing.

What I think is really exciting about that is what is showing up in the research, pretty consistently, is when organizations take that approach, they are seeing the return in profit, and their financial security, and financial future. They are reaping a return for going down this path.

Mari Ryan: Renee, where can listeners find more information about your work?

Renee Moorefield: Two sources, easy to find. One is, our company address. The other is our new website of programs specifically targeting what we mentioned, and that’s

Mari Ryan: Fabulous. Thank you so much for being here today, for sharing your wisdom, and as always, it’s a joy to spend time with you.

Renee Moorefield: You as well. Thanks for doing the interview, I appreciate it.

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Topics: Worksite Wellness, worksite wellbeing, workplace wellbeing, wellness, environment, leadership skills, work environment, employee experience, cultural competence, employee happiness, leadership, company leadership, ceo, cfo, c suite leadership, leading wellbeing, employee wellness, renee moorefield

Mari Ryan

Written by Mari Ryan

Mari Ryan is the CEO/founder of AdvancingWellness and is a recognized expert in the field of workplace well-being strategy.