Aisha Glover of Audible on Leadership: Create a Culture of Consensus, not one of Disruption

Posted on June 21, 2021


Aisha Glover was CEO of Newark Alliance and led the effort that made Newark, N.J., a finalist for Amazon’s HQ2. Newark’s high finish in 2018 at the conclusion of Amazon’s competition helped to introduce Newark’s new reputation as a technology hub.

She was recruited to be vice president of Urban Innovation at Audible, the world’s leader in audiobooks and recorded entertainment. Audible is headquartered in Newark. Audible’s founder and executive chairman, Don Katz, emphasizes community involvement, inventive engagement in urban economic development, and non-traditional philanthropy.

Glover delivered the keynote speech April 29 for the CenterState CEO annual meeting, held virtually because of Covid-19. Her varied experiences have shown her that effective leaders are purpose driven and create a culture that thrives on consensus, not on disruptive personality.

In your CenterState speech, you described Newark’s comeback story and said that folks don’t always think of Newark as a college town. Would you like to elaborate?

Sure – happy to. Newark is the fifth largest college town on the East Coast.

What tends to happen in urban areas is you have a more transient student population and larger percentage of commuters. It isn’t how you think of a traditional college town. But for sure, Newark is a thriving college town and our universities are powerful anchor institutions. We end up collaborating and working closely alongside them to advance some of the broader goals and initiatives in the city.

When you think about economic development, your talent pipeline and your workforce is a critical component. If you’re combining workforce needs and talent needs alongside innovation and thought leadership and research, there is no better partner than a university. I think being intentional about those types of collaborations is key.


Let’s pivot to leadership. Were you in leadership roles growing up?

You’ve been doing your column long enough, that you’ve had similar answers – being in clubs at school and the like. I was in organizations, associations, peer mentoring groups, conflict resolution, you name it, and assumed leadership roles. I also like to think of leadership in a little less traditional way.

So I had to flex my leadership muscle in different ways growing up in Brooklyn. We could be kind of knucklehead kids, sometimes getting into trouble a little bit. There were a range of situations whether hanging out with friends or needing to address a teacher in a certain way where I felt empowered to use my voice, take a leadership role, stand up for myself and others, and to make the right decisions, even when people around me weren’t always making the right decisions.

There’s kind of your textbook leadership – what you put on your resume or a college application. Then there are those situations that we’re all confronted with every day where you can be a leader making the right decision or influencing others to do the right thing.

Do you have an example of a time where you stood up for yourself and made the right decision?

Oh, geez. (Laughter) There were like daily decisions where friends would be getting into a bit of trouble or doing things that they weren’t supposed to, and I was not afraid to be a voice, whether that was saying something or just trying to bow out and not go along with the crowd.

I was on peer mediation in high school and really led the conflict resolution there. (Glover graduated from New Utrecht School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, in 1994.) There were instances where certain students would come in or be relegated to come in and resolve their issue. And then I’d speak with them again, separately or after: You guys can’t do this. You can’t get mixed up in anything. Next time you’ll get suspended.

It became a muscle and a skillset, and so I felt that obligation and responsibility.

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