The Cleveland’s Defines a New Idea for Leaders Everywhere


( ENSPIRE Entertainment ) Authors Marisa and Simon Cleveland‘s New Book, There is No Box, to Release on Nov. 8

ENSPIRE Contributor: Alexandra Rivera

Cleveland and her husband, Simon, encourage readers to rethink leadership development creating a more inclusive and empowered environment. The Clevelands have over 40 years of experience in corporate, government, and education making them experts in leadership. Cleveland also understands the importance of balancing being involved with writing, music, and dance in her lifestyle, and as a former gymnast, cheerleader, and dancer. Marisa has also led writing programs, chaired events and fundraisers, and mentored emerging bestselling authors.

There is No Box is a guide for leaders to see the importance of drawing outside the line. The book does a deep dive into where leaders should start, becoming boxed in entering the workforce, and breaking boundaries. There is No Box is meant to provide established and beginning leaders with tools to prove leading is a lifestyle. Marisa earned multiple degrees including her Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from Northeastern University, her Master of Arts in English from National University, and her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications from George Mason University. 

Photo of Marisa Cleveland

ENSPIRE spoke with Marisa Cleveland recently about her new book and rethinking leadership. 

You and your husband have over 40 years of experience in corporate, government, and education. How does this help your approach to leadership? 

One of the main concepts of the book is based on experiential learning, and this means gathering as many experiences as possible to help create more informed decisions. With our combined experiences rooted across different industries, we’ve been able to analyze in what ways leadership impacts others at various stages of any organization. When we entered higher education, we focused on how we could share those experiences with others to help them on their path of leadership development.

How did you come up with the idea to rethink leadership development? 

In all stages of our careers, we’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to take training courses that aligned with our current jobs, but we rarely had the chance to take training in other areas. For example, in order to be reimbursed for a workshop, we first had to draft a rationale for why that workshop would help us do our current job better.

When we met some alumni from a community leadership development program, those program participants shared with us how there could be a different focus on leadership development. Since Simon and I enjoy researching topics that interest us, we further examined leadership development through the individual, the community, and within an organization. This investigation demonstrated how leadership is not a trait. Leadership is a lifestyle, and this changed our understanding of leadership development.

What is one of the key points in being able to rethink leadership development? 

You are the CEO of your life. I think we all have an opinion or an idea of what a CEO is. When we ask people what a CEO does or how should a CEO behave, we get similar responses. They are in charge; they decide, they have followers; they lead the company in a positive direction, etc. When we promote ourselves to the CEO of our lives, with the idea that “our lives” is our company. That concept reframes how we view every decision we make. We are in charge of our lives, we decide, whether we realize it, we have followers, and we are responsible for leading ourselves in a positive direction.

Photo of Simon Cleveland

What are other proactive ways besides your book that people can challenge themselves in rethinking leadership development?

This is a fantastic question! The most proactive way someone can rethink leadership development is to consider learning as an ongoing endeavor. Leadership development isn’t something with an end date. Leadership development is continuous and fluid.

Are there any other new projects or plans you have for the rest of this year? 

We are excitedly creating a leadership development training workshop for emerging leaders. We hope to help others on their leadership journey. Since there are limitations with many leadership development programs, our goal is to create this training as an abbreviated workshop that operates holistically for the participant and shows them they don’t have to settle for what others have chosen as the default standard.

Cleveland and her husband are rethinking the idea of leadership with a new approach in her new book There is No Box. The book is set to release on Nov. 8 this year. 

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