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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    EMPATHETIC LEADERSHIP: Becoming a Leader Who Cares

    istock photo

    istock photo

    I recently had an opportunity to interact with a variety of people in a service based organization for a prolonged period of time. The nature of these interactions was often stressful for myself and those around me.

    Performance of their job duties required a high level of quality control and process focus. To break the tension, I occasionally joked with them that they needed to avoid making any errors because it would require them to complete too much paperwork.

    But after a while, I began to realize that despite the pressure of their roles, most of them displayed a remarkable level of empathy. They didn’t simply act like they cared about their client population, they really did seem to understand, and they actively advocated for them. It struck me that many of these individuals are not only in roles that are appropriately aligned with their giftedness, but that they are part of an organization that genuinely cares about their work. This led me to think about the culture and the “feel” in many other organizations; and to wonder how employees, clients and other stakeholders experience them in the context of empathy. Continue reading

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    heart, head, handsSeveral centuries ago, during the Revolutionary War, a group of soldiers were trying to move a heavy piece of lumber that was blocking the road.  As hard as they tried, over and over again, they couldn’t seem to move it from the ground. Their corporal stood nearby giving them direction and probably graciously allowing them a brief period of rest. He may have even sought their input on “how” to best move the huge piece of wood. But after their repeated efforts, his patience was wearing thin.

    Another more senior army officer came along on horseback and observed their efforts. After a moment, he suggested that the corporal help his men. The corporal responded with a tinge of offense in his voice, “Me? Why, I’m a corporal sir!”

    The senior officer dismounted his horse and stepped over to the men. He positioned himself alongside them, and gave the order to “heave”. All of a sudden, the timber moved into the position where they needed it, no longer blocking the pathway.

    He then turned to the corporal and told him, “The next time you have a piece of timber for your men to move, just call the commander-in-chief.” The officer was George Washington.

    Washington’s behavior modeled servant leadership. He led by example. He didn’t merely direct others, or solicit their input. He demonstrated his willingness to serve and support them. And as a result the soldiers felt his tangible encouragement of their work; and he understood the challenges of their roles.

    Continue reading

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    Water and Trust – Priceless

    What is your most valuable and powerful commodity? Many of you might say money, your home, or investments. As important as those are, I believe your most valuable commodity is water. This may surprise some of you, but think about it. If you live in America, you are rich in this natural resource because you generally have access to clean water, and use it constantly throughout the day.

    I admittedly use water like I have an unlimited supply. I take wonderfully long hot showers, I run the water constantly while performing tasks like brushing my teeth or rinsing off dishes. I put small loads in the washing machine. During the summer I water my lawn at least every other day.  I buy bottled drinking water because I like the taste. I pay for all of this water usage, but the cost is easy to rationalize because of its importance to me. Yet, I take the availability of water for granted.

    Over 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, however, millions of people in underdeveloped or war torn nations lack access to clean drinking water, and suffer from sickness and diseases as a result. Water is basic need and a common commodity throughout the entire world, but uneven supply and cultural differences in demand result in great variability in the cost of obtaining it.



    Thinking about the value of water to the environment led me to focus on organizations as an entity or environment, and to ponder the most basic yet valuable thing needed to make them function. It occurred to me that trust is that fundamental element. Trust is the foundation upon which all positive relationships are built. Steven M. R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust (2006,  CoveyLink, LLC) describes trust as a requirement for the credibility and empowerment of organizations, financial systems and human interactions.

    Like water, we sometimes take trust for granted in how we communicate with our employees, our customers, our shareholders or our stakeholders. There are plenty of examples in the past decade of corporate CEOs and financial leaders who abused the trust of the people they served, and many paid for it with their jobs, their bank accounts, their freedom, or their health.  Organizational leaders may wrongly assume that their employees will remain loyal and inspired to put forth extra effort for the success of the team, in spite of failure to acknowledge the employees own needs.

    Like water, we sometimes use trust as if there’s an unlimited supply, until one day we find ourselves in a crisis of short supply.  The cistern of trust, like a cistern of water, is depleted because it’s constantly being used without being replenished.

    Like water, lack of trust may result in organizational sickness or malfunction. Low trust breeds insecurity, instability and incapability. Ultimately the inner glue that binds a team together dries up, and it falls apart.

    Like water, trust is a basic human need. It’s used to build relationships and connections between people as a basis for accomplishing goals and objectives.

    Like water, trust can be gained by gathering it. The steady consistent drip of a faucet will ultimately fill a bathtub. The steady consistent actions of leaders will build a reserve of trust.

    Like water, trust is a precious commodity.  A certain amount of it must be saved and preserved for a drought or time of need.

    Like water, that same pool of trust can quickly dissipate.  Strike a big hole in the side of a container of water and it splashes out onto the ground never to be gathered again. Similarly, a single significant despicable act can destroy trust forever.

    Building A Reservoir of Trust

    How do you build trust in your organization? Do you fully recognize its value and treat it as a priceless commodity, or do you take its existence for granted? Building trust requires the active demonstration of care and sincerity between people. It provides refreshment to the soul, and like water it lubricates and smoothes the rough patches in our daily interactions. Trust overlooks inadvertent slights and missteps. Trust looks for the good, and assumes the best. What’s the trust level in your organization?

    Copyright 2011 Priscilla Archangel

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