Today is World AIDS Day, a commemoration to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding the international HIV epidemic. We’ve come a long way since the day was established in 1988 – but we still have far to go with an estimated 1.2 million people in the United States infected and 40,000 new cases added each year.

All organizations can learn from how we’ve gone about tackling this disease. Instead of trying to spread resources equally throughout the nation, the CDC and Department of Health and Human Services have identified just 48 counties (out of 3143 counties and their equivalents) and rural areas in seven states that account for greater than half of the infections. They are targeting these areas for four interventions: early diagnosis, sustained treatment, pre-exposure prevention, and quick response to outbreaks. They’re not trying to do everything – or do it everywhere – rather, leveraging their efforts where it can have the greatest impact.

It’s another example of the power of data and utilizing key metrics to let you know both where to focus your work and whether your strategies are working. We could all benefit from such discipline.

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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