Category Archives: Vanguard Organizational Leadership (VOL)

How to Manage Conflict and Deal with People

A collection of thoughts and ideas for success in dealing with difficult people or difficult issues compiled by Michael Shields, Salem Keizer Public Schools, Director of Transportation and Auxiliary Services, and David McCuistion, Vanguard Organizational Leadership (VOL).

Conflict and the Dynamics of Understanding

Why conflict?  The business of transporting students safely to school will have days that have disruptive conflict with other human beings.  How we deal with others, especially during a conflict,  is probably the most important factor in our jobs. Dr. Mary Kay Whitaker of About Leaders: Making a Difference, writing in her White Paper on Conversation Map, says that it is a big mistake to avoid situation that are disruptive to workplace environments. Additionally, she said that it is equally important to address the disruption and conflict; not only to resolve the issue, but also to insure the safety and protection of everyone affected by the disruption. The better we do it, the easier our jobs and the better we will feel about ourselves.Maslows-Hierarchy-of-Needs

As documented by Abraham Maslow in his Hierarchy of Needs, Every human being has basic needs that must be met before they can become comfortable is any environment.

The primary needs are food, clothing, and shelter.  Other needs are to be loved, valued, and appreciated.  People have a need to feel in control of themselves and their destinies. Many of the frustrations we encounter on a regular basis, whether from parents, staff, or employees, are because some of these needs have not been met.

When we are dealing with conflict situation it requires us to figure out what or why the person is frustrated or angry.  People will get frustrated when they feel they are losing one of these needs.  Dr. Stephen Covey encourages us to “Seek First to Understand then to be Understood”; this is habit number five in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” If we are to understand, we must first listen.

Dr. Covey tells us there are five levels of listening: ignoring, pretend listening, selective listening, attentive listening, and empathic listening.   The fifth level of listening, “empathic”, is when you listen with both your heart and your mind.  People often take positions (position = what they want) and dig their heels in.  What you can do is find out their interests (interest = why they want it).  Too often we all try to move to a solution before we clearly understand the “why.” The leader must remove him/herself from the position of problem solver and put themselves in the other person’s position to fully understand their position and conflict.

We must listen, not with the intention of responding, but to understand the other person’s position.  Instead of thinking of a solution, leaders must listen with empathy to what is being said, to understand the intention of the speaker, the depth of their feelings, while watching for their non-verbal words to compliment the understanding. We must ask ourselves, “Is what I have to say really important to what is being spoken to me, will it really add to the conversation.”

conflict management

Conflict is Often the Result of Unmet Needs

With many of the people that are frustrated or angry, you may never find out what their underlying problem is.  For some of them it may require professional assistance.  Your job at resolving the conflict is to attempt to understand what their motivation is for the subject matter before you not whether they need professional help.    You must assess the situation.  Can this conflict be resolved by conversation,  preferably face to face?  Does this person always approach you in a difficult manner? Are they swearing or using derogatory terms?

In Making Teams Succeed at Work it says; when two employees are having a conflict at work that they can’t resolve on their own, try this strategy:  Ask each employee to paraphrase the other employee’s point of view.  This will go a long way toward determining if each employee understands where the other one is coming from.  It may be that it’s a simple misunderstanding, which can be easily worked out.

A New Look

Have you noticed the changes that have occurred in the last five years?  People are questioning more, they seem to be less trusting.

If you are in a leadership role, then you are automatically in a position of being questioned about your decisions; whether you are a school bus driver and the students are questioning your authority, or an office person and the public is questioning your answers, or a supervisor and the employee is questioning your motives or intent. People today want answers; they want facts that support your answers.  The public is upset with a bus driver, and they want written documentation that something was done.  The bus driver writes up a student, and they want something in writing from the principal that something was done. All of us are in some leadership role and may have experienced this lack of trust.

I believe it stems from people feeling they are losing control, and they want that control back.  The puLosing Controlblic is starting to vote down levies, because they are frustrated with government in general. Why, because they feel they do not have control.   One of the ways we can try to offer people that feeling of control is to get them involved in the process.  Find out what their interests are.  Try to understand their wants. Then, work together with the information towards a solution.

The most impressive techniques I learned recently were at a three day workshop put on by John and Carol Glaser.  The purpose of the workshop was to train the district teams for collaborative negotiations. These teams were from both labor and management.  People donated their weekend to complete the training.  So what was the training?  The prime focus, in my opinion, was to understand the other person’s interests and then to work towards a collaborative solution that addressed both sides interests. The second focus, again in my opinion, was to stay focused on the interests and not on the person(s).

In the final analysis, conflict management requires several personal leadership skills that must be developed and honed in order to resolve internal strife that is detrimental to organizational success.



It is often said that the only thing that is constant in the present day is change. Societal norms play a large part in our personal norms, beliefs and philosophies. While in some cases it may be a good thing, for instance the way technology has improved our methods of doing business, more often societies norms slowly erode the basic values that are foundational and fundamental to society and organizations.

Many societal norms, in the interest of having more “fun” in life, have caused a severe and serious decline in personal morals and ethics. All one has to do is watch the many advertisements, movies and television shows that have not only corrupted our morals, but also degraded the work ethic of the populace, more especially among our young men. Young men today seem confused and confounded by the excessive male-bashing video clips more favorable of the opposite gender causing them to question the importance of their personal manhood and integrity.

Hollywood’s view of open sexuality, some Judicial rulings and political actions have slowly replaced many of the country’s basic religious beliefs in the name of personal pleasure, abortion and “separation of  church and state” under the First Amendment to the Constitution. The ever increasing numbers of legal actions against people who exercise little or no personal integrity also permeate the media, which educates our populace toward changing their basic core values – values that Americans have maintained for the past 200-plus years.

Roman Legionnaire by Augusto Kapronczai

I’m reminded of a speech given by now retired United States Marine Corps (USMC) General, now President of Birmingham-Southern College, Charles C. Krulak in which he tells of the gradual erosion of the Roman Legionnaires1 sense of personal integrity through the influence of the “politically correct” Praetorians or Imperial Bodyguards. During the time of the 12 Caesars at their morning inspections, the Legionnaires would strike with their right fist the armor breastplate that covered their heart and yell “Integritas” (In-teg-re-tas), which in Latin meant material wholeness, completeness and entirety. In other words, the integrity of the armor and the man was sound, solid and completely un-impregnable.

The politically correct Praetorians had the finest equipment and armor (i.e. latest technology). They no longer had to shout “Integritas” as their armor was sound. Instead they would shout “Hail Caesar” to signify that their heart, and subsequently their integrity and loyalty, belonged to the imperial personage – not their unit, institution nor their code of ideals, i.e. their core values.

Although the Legionnaires continued to hold fast to their belief, even while changing the shout to “Integer” to indicate their completeness in integrity, the steady social decline had its effects upon the Legion. Slowly because of laziness, parade ground drills were abandoned, the armor became to heavy to carry and was cast aside, resulting in a loss of personal integrity as well.2

Fast forwarding to the current era, society has taken on some of the declining habits of the Legionnaires. For example, we pay more attention to our smart phones during meetings because our distractions are more fun than the boring meeting.

Similarly, as the heavy armor was cumbersome and uncomfortable, coat and ties give way to Business Casual or relaxed fix jeans and sport shirts. Family nights and weekend football game preclude attending church or some other community service activity. The idea of making a donation to promote some community function is easier than joining in service to the community.

King Solomon also tells us in one of his writings in Proverbs that “The man of integrity walks securely”, that “the integrity of the upright guides them, and that “righteousness guards the man of integrity.”3

In a recent group discussion on the social website LinkedIn, the question was asked, “Should work be fun?” Thefun-at-workre was an article accompanying the question that focused on how to have fun at work through the addition of “organized fun activities” to enhance the workplace environment. My comment, which did result in some positive feedback, included the following:

The “fun” is in the “doing” – accomplishing the mission and turning the vision into reality. Rewards, recognitions, cakes and punch are the affirmations of the “doing,” the accomplishing, the developing the experience and improving excellence.

We need to quit worrying about having fun all the time, number one because it is not always fun due to challenges, issues and concerns, and two because the intrinsic rewards are long-term and more important than the short-term gifts of fun-time Charlie things.

I tend to focus more in what motivational speaker Mike Frank calls “Leadership PRIDE – Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence.” I added three other “E” parts: Everyone or Ethics or Experience. Fun is about Intrinsic Rewards. Keep the Quest Alive!

 Note: “Great Time” image above not associated with LinkedIn Group or the referenced article.4

The idea of having fun in the workplace often lowers standards of common decency that results in sexual harassment comments, unprofessionalism, workplace attire and behaviors that results in questionable integrity of employees.

President John F. Kennedy once said, “I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.” 5

I believe the “fun” comes from the intrinsic rewards gained from the servant leadership of all employees as they see their accomplishments from their personal efforts, and as they improve in their own lives and the leadership they exhibit as a result of their personal growth. I believe it is my contribution to the human spirit to which President Kennedy referred in his quote.

For years now, when speaking to my Navy Junior ROTC students, I have reminded them that their name and their integrity is what they will take with them to their grave. I can only hope that I am remembered for my contribution to the human spirit as a result of my personal integrity.

Let’s get back to basics of morals and ethics. Integritas!


1. Roman Legionnaire by Augusto Kapronczai retrieved from Warrior in Art Blogspot at
2. Excerpts from the Keynote address for JSCOPE 2000 by General Charles C. Krulak.
3. NIV Leadership Bible – Leadership Principles from God’s Word, Proverbs 10:9; 11:3; 13:6.
4. “Have a great time” image retrieved on 2/2/2014 from Force 10 Coaching at
5. Retrieved on 2/2/2014 from Book of Famous Quotes at

5 Steps to Building a Leadership Dynasty


As I reflect upon the “Roll Tide” fever that is rising throughout Alabama, even in some television commercials following their third National Championship, I am reminded of my own coaching successes, and some of the foundational ideals of leadership and organizational sustainability.

Several words are being thrown around in the sports media that speak to the long-term growth of Alabama Football — “Dynasty” and “Legend”, each which brings to mind leadership legacy.

Alabama coach Nick Saban, post-game and season interviews, outlined several of the factors that have contributed to the Alabama Dynasty, not just during his era at Alabama, but over the years going back to Paul “Bear” Bryant in the 1950s. As I listened to him after the game, in his “Gatorade” soaked shirt, and during his next-day news conference, I thought about the leadership required to build a dynamic, sustainable program in any arena.

Successful Organizations have a Program

There is a foundational ideal around which any successful program is built that becomes the character, the heart, of the organization. It is based on the moral authority of the primary leaders, the CEO, Head Coach, President, etc., which becomes the standard of ethics for the organization.

The leader models the acceptable behaviors for everyone, inside and outside the organization, thereby dictating the value system that must be accepted and incorporated into the personal value system of employees. People and other organizations observe these traits in the daily operation of, not only the organization as a whole, but also, in the performance and behaviors of the team members. Furthermore, leadership holds everyone accountable to these standards, taking necessary corrective action when necessary that upholds the standard.

Coach Saban exhibited his leadership by sending two players home a day after the team’s arrival in Miami because they failed to adhere to acceptable organizational standard of conduct. By doing so, he re-enforced the team expectations, enhanced his respect level, which inspires trust and confidence in his leadership. Coach Saban referred to his action as it related to the “program” of the organization.


Organizational Vision

Leadership establishes a vision of the organization; not the primary leader’s vision, but the vision of the organization. The primary leadership — Coach, Trustees, shareholder expectations, etc. — collaboratively says, “This is how we want to be perceived outside the company”. The collaboration continues down through the organization to establish buy-in and build the vision into the core of everyone in the organization.

Southwest Airlines vision of low air fares, flight safety, better Customer Service than anyone else with on-time flights has not changed since their inception in the 1970s. As Colleen Barrett, CEO Emirates of Southwest Airlines, says we are a Customer Service company, we just happen to fly air planes. The vision of Alabama Football, which reflects the University’s vision, states, “A Tradition of Champions – A Future of Leaders.” Everything they do, on and off the field, directly relates to their vision.

A strong, value-laden vision is crucial to success and sustainability.

Learning Organization

There are five qualities of a successful learning organization: Standards; Instruction; Practice; Feedback; and Release. Obviously, these apply to Universities and competitive teams of all types. It can also be applied to all organizations as well — Corporations, Companies, Religious, Community Service, Youth, etc.

Leadership for long-term sustainability and success needs also to follow this line of reasoning.

  • Standards – unarguably a foundational attribute for structure, teamwork, commitment, and performance.
  • Instruction – life-long learning is a requirement for personal and organizational growth to prevent stagnation and decline. Change management is necessary to maintain viability in economic terms. Likewise, leadership training is essential for leader growth.
  • Practice – expertise requires practice. All teams require practice. whether it be for equipment operation, competition, emergencies or new procedures.
  • Feedback – helps improve performance and growth. Employee feedback improves procedures for competing tasks. Feedback is essential to prevent mistakes that are costly to the organization. Employee mentoring is a form of feedback and affect several aspects of organizational performance.
  • Release – empowering employees to make decisions relevant to their position in the workplace improves confidence, teamwork and individual leadership. Alabama Football vision reflects this aspect of the learning organization.



Greenleaf called foresight “The Central Ethic of Leadership” and that it is “the lead the leader has.” For Alabama football this is evident in their recruiting program. Leaders must also exhibit systematic foresight to stay ahead technologically, in the market place, fulfilling customer and employee needs, and implementing the almost daily change requirements to remain at the forefront in their business world.

Dynasties are built by leaders who maintain the foundational character of the organization; who keep the vision alive to both the organization and to those who are on the outside looking in; who create a learning environment that is passed on from generation to generation; and who visualize with a systematic foresight of the future. Changing when necessary, updating the system and employee with the required training and instruction, and maintaining a open line of communication up and down the organizational structure.

  • Dynasties have Immense PRIDE – a Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence.
  • Likewise, Leaders=Demonstrate PRIDE – a Persona Responsibility In Developing Everyone.
  • Furthermore, Leadership Builds PRIDE – a Personal Responsibility In Developing Ethics.

The future leaders they develop will live the ethical value system embedded in them from their association with the organization; who in-turn develop leaders, as so on.

The Courage of Servant Leadership

The majority of discussions about Servant Leadership center around a calling, listening, empathy, emotional intelligence, character, leading with moral authority and putting other people first in a leader’s practices.

Equally important is the leadership characteristic of courage, if for no other reason than following a theory that is only partially accepted as a realistic leadership philosophy. Courage to stand as a rampart against unethical behaviors, while resisting pressures of high profits at the expense of employee needs and growth requires immense courage by leadership. At times leaders must choose between doing the right thing for employees over sacrificing standards to increase the bottom line.


 As Mark Twain tells us, there are two types of courage:  Physical and Moral. As he points out, most often courage is thought to be physical. Rarely do we think of the moral aspect of courage. As servant leaders, we must consider both moral and physical courage as a major practice.

To more fully understand this essential quality of leadership, leaders must know be knowledgeable of the differences between morals, ethics and honor. Traditionally, these traits have different and distinct meanings:

Moralsa set of standards or rules that governed one’s behavior; a set of virtues based on the natural law; cultural differences between right and wrong.

Ethics the behavior one exhibits based on his/her virtues or morals;

Honor maintaining a proper sense of right and wrong based on moral standards of conduct. As stated by Revolutionary War Hero Capt. John Paul Jones: “I will lay down my life for my country, but I will not trifle with my honor.”

Servant Leaders are expected to be persons of honor, with high standards of morals and ethical behaviors, whose integrity is beyond reproach at all times; 24/7 even when no one is looking or watching.

medal-of-honor.jpgUntil recently, courage meant physical courage only, with little consideration for the moral or ethical aspects of the behavior. Saving a person’s life meant placing one’s self in danger with the possibility of sacrificing one’s life to save another person. In the military, such action is sometimes recognized with the awarding of the Medal of Honor for valor above and beyond the call of ordinary duty.

Leadership physical courage can be exhibited in several other ways.

  •            Training an employee in the proper procedures of completing a task or responsibility.
  • ·         Educating – scheduled and impromptu – employees on a proposed change or policy.
  • ·         Mentoring and counseling when employee behaviors indicate a need for one or the other.
  •           Conflict resolution – especially during heated moments of aggression by employees.
  • ·         Public speaking on a wide variety of subject matter relative to one’s knowledge and expertise.


A Servant Leader’s honor depends on their exhibiting high standards of moral courage. Examples include some of the following behaviors.

  •  Doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do, especially when under pressure to look the other way or to lower standards of conduct in performance with the idea of motivating future positive behaviors.
  •  Standing up for the leaders beliefs in defense of one’s honor.
  •   Making honest decisions based on organizational ethical standards with unwavering principles.
  •  Admitting mistakes, even in the most embarrassing of situations.
  • Confronting unethical behaviors when discovered and taking responsible corrective action that may even require terminating an employee.
  • Setting the standard in performance according to organizational morals and ethics

Servant Leaders authenticity can only be maintained and emulated by adhering to the highest possible standards of moral and physical courage.

 Where do you stand in your leadership courage? Do you stand as a rampart against unethical and immoral behaviors by employees? Are you an authentic Servant Leader?

 I’d love to read your comments.  Thank you.

How Empathetic Should a Leader Be?

Empathy is described by Robert Greenleaf as one of the twelve characteristics of Servant Leadership. Obviously, when leading from the heart, as is the intent of a serving leader, one has to exercise extreme patience, compassion and understanding in their day-to-day interaction with others.

Be that as it may, just how empathetic should one be in their daily efforts of making a difference in the lives of those whom they are leading? How much empathy is necessary of a servant leader? Until I was asked this question by an interviewing school principal, I admit I had not given much thought to this important Servant Leadership characteristic.

Empathy – not sympathy for the situation of others – is defined as the intellectual identification with, or vicarious experiencing of, the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. In other words, the feelings or attitudes felt within one’s self when considering the feelings, thoughts, attitudes, or expressions of heart-felt concern over an issue that is causing intrinsic anxiety, apprehension or worry in another person.

Leadership is a responsibility that requires a tremendous amount of time and effort in dealing with people as they carry-out the day-to-day tasks of their individual jobs. Leadership today requires more than just expecting the necessary performances of employees to meet company missions and goals.

Larry Spears, in his Focus on Leadership: Servant Leadership for the 21st Century, points out that there is a new leadership paradigm, a new moral principle that requires a new leadership model for successfully leading people to higher levels of success in the organization.

Old Paradigm: Control, Regulations; Manager/Leader Directed; Employee treated like children; Warlike Values.

New Paradigm: Openness, People Oriented; Cooperation, relationships; employee treated like adults; Integrity, trust, mutual respect.

Spears also writes that there is a new “Moral Principle” that says, “The only authority deserving one’s allegiance is given freely and knowingly granted by the led to the leader.”

This allegiance is strengthened when employees see in leadership a clearly evident “servant stature” of the leader. In other words, a caring and empathetic attitude emanating  from leadership that creates within those led a level of trust and loyalty not normally obtained under the old paradigm of leadership.

This type leadership as a model that is based on teamwork and community building techniques. It seeks to involve others in the decision making process, and actually empowers employees to make decision in their daily job tasks that promote organizational success for the good of the organization.

Servant Leadership is Empathic Leadership that is based on an ethical and caring behavior toward employees that enhances their personal growth, which creates a trusting belief that the leader is intrinsically concerned about the welfare of others.

Just how far does a servant leader go to create this level of trust, this showing of how much you really care about the personal growth of the employees? Is it more important than the organizational vision of expansion and higher levels of profits? Evidence is beginning to emerge that indicates empathic leaders contribute more to the bottom line than the old paradigm of leadership. People will tell you, “I don’t care how much you know, show me how much you care.”

servant-leadership-mountain 1

The premier leader of all time tell us that when someone asks you go with them a mile, you should go with them two miles. Empathic leaders “go the extra mile” in their leadership to instill a high level of trust from those under their charge. Leaders can instill this level of empathy in a number of ways.

Key empathic leadership principles include the following empathy-based practices. 

  • Lead from a value-based, principle-centered position of moral authority. Do the right thing with employees, empower them to make sound personal and organizational decisions. Lead from a set of consistent standards of performance, yet allowing for some flexible boundaries for personal growth. Delegate tasks, share power, while creating a culture of accountability. Maintain your personal integrity.
  •  Operate from a high level of Emotional Intelligence (EI). Be aware of your own level of empathy, transparency and service orientation. Develop empathic leaders who will in turn develop other empathic leaders. Be an agent of change for personal growth, not only in yourself, but also in the well-being of others.
  • Become an empathic listener, who seeks to identify the internal “will” of other’s conversations. Be receptive to what “is” being said, as well as what “is not” being said, seeking to understand what the person’s spirit and mind is saying. Observe what the non-verbal signals are sending as well as with the words that are spoken.
  • Maxwell says, “Treat everyone like a 10.” Empathic leaders treat everyone from the same value-based standard, exhibiting a deep-seated belief that everyone has intrinsic and extrinsic value. Empathetic leadership exhibits a strong commitment to the personal growth of everyone – provide professional development; listen to suggestions, reflect on their value and incorporate where appropriate.
  • Make employees your “Number 1” priority – put people first in your leadership. Lead from your heart, with compassion as you help others meet their highest priority development needs. Empathic leaders desire to “serve first”, demonstrating a personal calling in the interest of others.
  • Tough Love. Being empathic does not negate the requirement for confronting behaviors that run counter to organizational norms. Leaders must be compassionate in their leadership and caring when correcting behavioral concerns, exercising all the ideas above. Empathy doesn’t mean leaders will accept performance that is below standards, employee strife that interferes with teamwork, or decision-making that reduces productivity. Empathic leaders are also proactive leaders, correcting problems to maintain organizational efficiency.

How empathetic should you be in your leadership? How far will you go to lead others? Each leader must answer that question for themselves. For me it is going the extra miles when required, to enhance their lives. Instead of giving up on someone, attempt to improve them. You will see the difference you made and, more importantly, you will feel the intrinsic reward from your empathic leadership efforts.

Thank you for your comments.


Leadership Intelligences – A Holistic Approach

Multiple Intelligences are rarely, if ever, talked about in leadership circles. Two that might be  discussed are intellectual intelligence (IQ) and Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

Gardner's Multiple Intelligences

 In 1983 Howard Gardner, in his book Frames Of Mind, wrote about seven types of multiple intelligences in human beings. Gardner argues that there is a wide range of cognitive abilities, and that strength or weakness in one area or ability does not necessarily correlate to another intelligence. For example, the theory postulates that a child who learns to multiply easily is not necessarily more intelligent than a child who has more difficulty on this task.

While Gardner did not mention leadership in any of his multiple intelligences, it is easily recognizable that to be an effective, efficient and productive leader, intelligence is quite naturally required. As such, I believe there are four kinds of intelligence that directly affect one’s leadership capabilities and methodologies to become a successful leadership practitioner.

Leadership Intelligences

 A holistic approach to leadership requires knowledge, i.e. intelligence, is these areas: Physical (PQ); Intellectual (IQ); Emotional (EQ); and Spiritual (SQ). They are interrelated in that they build on each other as one’s intellectual level increases over time through normal life experiences, academic achievements and professional expertise in our chosen fields.

Young Couple Jogging at the Beach

Christine McDougall, on her website Positive-Deviant, writes about the importance of Physical Intelligence (PQ) to the overall well-being of personal health and fitness. Physical Intelligence relates to Gardner’s bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. Furthermore, current studies and findings prove the necessity of maintaining a strong fitness level to improve longevity and body functions. PQ theory says that individuals need be knowledgeable in fitness, nutrition, and bodily wellness.


Life-long learning is widely regarded as the increase in the intellectual level – IQ – of everyone wishing to improve one’s mind, professional expertise, and position in life. IQ contributes significantly to the personal “wisdom” one attains throughout the maturing process. Henri Bergson, in his book Creative Evolution reminds us: “To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” Continuing education is a never-ending process in raising one’s intellectual level, i.e. IQ.

emotional intelligence

Daniel Goleman, writing in What Makes A Leader, says that his findings have shown that the most effective leaders all have a high degree of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) says EQ is associated with better performance in nine different areas of leadership and management. Goleman’s research clearly shows that EQ is the sine qua non – absolute requirement – of leadership.


Cindy Wigglesworth, in her book SQ 21, outlines from her research 21 key elements to Spiritual Intelligence (SQ); which she emphatically differentiates from religious and religious beliefs. She believes that SQ is developed over time, with significant practice. SQ is defined as: “The ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation.” Wisdom and compassion being the pillars of SQ.

In The Servant As Leader, Robert Greenleaf lists twelve characteristics of Servant Leadership that practitioners need to exhibit in order to be classified as a servant leader.  Two of Greenleaf’s characteristics – Awareness and Self-Awareness are directly related to the above four intelligences.

Self-Awareness refers to having a deep understanding of oneself – emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs, drives, and “who we really are” as we exist in the world. It requires reflection on personal behaviors, interactions with others, and our overall decision-making posture in leadership. Further, it refers to the moral and ethical value system we use as the foundation of our leadership practices.

Awareness refers to our surroundings with whom we interact and build relationships in our leadership positions. Awareness also refers to a leaders abilities to consider the points-of-view or behaviors of others in an attempt to logically learn the inner-self of their behaviors.

The following briefly lists some of the salient points of each of these four leadership intelligences.

Physical Intelligence (PQ).

  • Ability to listen, identify and respond to internal messages about one’s physical self. Pain, hunger, depression, fatigue and frustration are examples.
  • Learn about and understand the mind body connection. For instance: stomach telling mind it is time to stop eating; understanding the difference between the internal voice of wants vs. needs; the bodies need for exercise when we want to be lethargic.
  • Determining our body’s perfect weight, fitness level and perfect diet.

Intellectual Intelligence (IQ).

  • Enrolling in classes of higher learning, obtaining a second degree, technical expertise improvement classes.
  • Research intellectual topics such as philosophy, religion, symbolism, leadership, psychology.
  • Surrounding yourself with people or organizations where life-long learning exists.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

  • Learn principles and practices for improvements in Self-Awareness and Self-Management: self-confidence; self-control; adaptability; initiative.
  • Becoming more socially: empathetic; service orientation to others and the organization.
  • Relationship Management: inspirational leadership practices; change management; conflict resolution skills; teamwork building techniques.

Spiritual Intelligence (SQ).

  • Deeper understanding of one’s own world view, life purpose, value hierarchy and controlling personal ego to consider the higher self.
  • Self-mastery of one’s spiritual growth, living your purpose, values and vision, sustaining faith in and seeking guidance from a higher power.
  • Universal awareness of world view of others, limitations and power of human perception, awareness of spiritual laws and transcendental oneness
  • Social Mastery/Spiritual Presence: wise and effective mentor of spiritual principles; leadership change agent; making wise and compassionate decisions; and being aligned with the ebb and flow of life.

Gardener’s “mind’s eye” theory refers to the human ability to “visualize” or “see” images in the mind. Arguably, this requires deep and intense thinking in order to see objects in the mind that cannot be touched or felt. However, sports coaches and teachers will tell you to visualize certain actions, such as hitting a tennis (The Inner Game of Tennis) or golf ball (Little Green Golf Book), throwing a football, or similar activities.

Have you expanded your Leadership Intelligence beyond your own personal views and thoughts? Do you exercise your “minds-eye” in your daily leadership of others? Is leadership required to understand the intelligences of others whom you lead?

I’m interested in your thoughts and comments.

Is Leadership Really That Complex?

President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower said,  “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” In other words it is the art of influencing someone to complete a task while convincing them it is their own idea and something they want to do in the first place.


Notice he said “art”, which indicates that it is not a “science”, that it is a skill acquired through learning, observing, and practicing. Furthermore, since it is not a science, leadership is separate and distinct from management, which is associated with resources such as goods, services, products, procurement and similar functions. Human Resource Management deals with the hiring, orientations, training and policies that deal with employees of the organization.

 Management is a complex function, dealing with the science of inventory control, financial planning of procurement, expenses, liabilities and profit. It requires analyzing of the effects of change, including the financial risks to profits and loss. These complexities require accounting, financial management and their associated mathematical compilations.

 When all these infrastructures are in place, what is left is the art of influencing and convincing the human factor, the employees, toward the execution of the plans initiated by management.

This is where leadership comes into play in an organization. James C. Hunter in his book The Servant: A Simple Story about the True Essence of Leadership, pointed out that “You manage things, you lead people.” Further, he defines leadership as, “The skill of influencing people to work enthusiastically toward goals identified as being for the common good.”

Complex? I am of the mind it is not all that complex. Difficult? That is another story.

Leadership is a skill and therefore must be learned to be effective. Furthermore, one does not have to be in a top-level leadership position to be a leader.

Maxwell’s Leading from the Middle Myths

Position: “I can’t lead if I’m not at the top.”

Destination: “When I get to the top, then I will learn to lead.”

Influence: “If I were on top, then others would follow me.”

Inexperience: “When I get to the top, I’ll be in control”

Freedom: “When I get to the top, then I’ll no longer be limited.”

Potential: “I can’t reach my potential if I’m not the top leader.”

All-or-Nothing: “If I can’t get to the top, then I won’t try to lead.”

What Maxwell is saying is, “One doesn’t have to be at the top to be a leader.” Nor is he saying that one only learns, or even starts learning, leadership principles when they are in a designated top-level position.

When a person decides on their line of work, that is the time one should begin learning about leadership. One fault of MBA Programs is that their focus is on management, with very little leadership principles and practices being taught.

Another myth is that one has to attend college to learn leadership. Wrong! There are literally thousands of leadership books on the market from which one can learn leadership principles and practices.

A young sailor who worked for me mid-way through my Navy career – Guy Haxton – is a perfect example of the myth that one has to be in a leadership position to be a leader. Seaman Haxton led the following manner:

He learned every aspect of our radio shack onboard ship, every piece of equipment, every system that was made up of this equipment.

He did not hesitate, or have to be told, to train others in the use of the equipment or the various aspects of our communication center.

He could function as a watch supervisor, which required communicating with upper-level management and leadership.

He took the initiative to troubleshoot problem, preventing major disruptions.

Guy Haxton was a leader.

It is really not that complex. Yes, it requires skills to be able to efficiently deliver leadership because we are dealing with people. This is the more difficult part.

Leadership requires practice, experience, making mistakes, control of one’s emotions, listening skills, awareness, self-awareness – Knowing Thyself, empathy, and intense, empathetic listening skills.

Four Leadership Rules of Sailing

Team-building is a much-talked-about leadership topic in today’s business world. While a lot of my leadership skills and practices were achieved through training, a huge amount of it came from my involvement with sporting activities throughout my life; football (quarterback), softball, baseball, umpiring and refereeing, physical fitness competitions and sailing.


As I was watching NASCAR racing last week, I took note of and remembered the team-building training of pit crews, who are key to racing success. In the span of less than fifteen seconds, pit crews can change four tires, refill the fuel tank, clean the windshield, remove litter from the front grill and repair minor damages. I particularly noticed the crew member removing a tire and gently rolling it away. While installing the new tire, another crew member quickly rolled or carried the tire away.

Everyone has an assignment and with methodical excellence carries out their individual tasks, in perfect rhythm with the other team members.

It reminded me of my experiences at sea, the dangers Mother Nature can inflict on ships and boats, and my personal sailing days. Sailing, regardless of the size of the craft, like a NASCAR Pit Crew, requires teamwork expertise and skill to safely sail a craft smoothly through the water.

During one of my sailing classes I remember the instructor, a retired Navy Captain with years of experience sailing his personal 40-foot craft around the world, telling us of the four rules of sailing. These four rules indicate the immense teamwork required to sail a craft, especially when part of a racing team, and can easily be tailored to leadership development, not only as demonstrated by NASCAR Pit Crews, but also in any work environment. They are also quite appropriate to modern team building and teamwork leadership.

Sailing Crew

Four Rules of Sailing

My sailing instructor explained the four rules of sailing in this manner:

Keep the people in the boat;
Keep the water out of the boat;
Don’t hit anyone; and
You have to look good.

Simple enough wouldn’t you think? I can tell you from experience, it is much more difficult than the rules imply; regardless of the number of people in the boat – i.e. on the team. Let’s look at some of the leadership skills required to follow these rules and smoothly sail – guide – your team to success.

►Keep the people in the boat – On the Team.

Take care of your people. Insure that there basic physiological needs are being met; maintain a safe and secure work environment; treat everyone with respect and dignity to permit a team-connection to the work group; create an environment of empowerment and creativity to build confidence and self-esteem; and lastly permit them to grow emotionally, spiritually and morally in a way that gives meaning and purpose to their lives.

Maintain constant training and life-long learning opportunities to improve personal expertise and skills that contribute to organizational and personal visions.

Create a worthwhile recognition program that instills confidence and creativity. Enable a path to promotion for those super-players with recognized capabilities.

In short, leaders values each team member as in integral cog in the wheel that keep the boat sailing toward its intended objective and the overall mission for success.

►Keep the water out of the boat – Protect them.

Prevent contradictory leadership from sources that disrupt the team and question the motive and legitimacy of the leader. Support them, go to bat for them, take steps to build team-member confidence and trust that says, “I trust that you made the right decision and that you are working for the good of the team.” Mentor them to instill a personal and spiritual connection to you, the leader, and to the team; make them feel like a valued member of the organization.

Help them problem-solve personal issues that prevent their total focus on the team vision and purpose. Take an interest in their well-being.


► Don’t hit anyone – Conflict resolution.

Conflict un-confronted is conflict unresolved.

Leadership must be ready and capable to resolve conflicts regardless of the magnitude of the problem. Leaders need to be skilled in relationship building with empathy, exhibiting a caring attitude about individual success and professional growth.

Create team accountability practices that enable individual team members to resolve internal conflicts – resolve disruptive issues at the lowest level possible.

Leadership requires a keen eye for disruptions in the personal lives of team members that interferes with their ability to perform at high levels of success.

►You have to look good – Professional appearance.

External perception is extremely important to the success of the overall team.

Looking good goes beyond physical appearance of team members. Looking good meant your professional appearance was sharp, neat and clean. Three-day-old, un-shaven 5 o’clock shadow is unacceptable in the business environment. Neatly trimmed and groomed facial hair can be dignified looking and promote a professional attitude.


Team appearance projects a professional customer service attitude that enhances the team abilities to meet the needs of the customer.

In addition, this extends to your physical plant, which to the customer indicates your team and organizational pride. Each team member looks good because they feel that the organization is an extension of themselves – their pride, their professionalism, and their desire to deliver top-notch customer service.

Leadership teaarrow - swirlsm building practices – just as in NASCAR and with sailing teams – is a key to organization success. Team cohesion requires a caring and empathic attitude to keep people performing at top-notch levels of performance.

Five Attributes of a Learning Organization

Why do we study History? Arguably, there are many reasons – to learn about past societies, learn about past leaders, to learn valuable skills and attributes of the past, to learn morals and ethical practices that contributed to the greater good of society, and so on.

 The key word here is “Learn”, so that one does not make the same mistakes of past societies while concomitantly creating a “Learning Organization”, society, or generation that will sustain from prior learning for generations to come.

 In 1990 David L. Steward co-founded World WideDoing Business by Good Book Technology (WWT), Inc. Beginning in 1996, WWT was ranked by VAR Business as one of the Top 500 companies in the US; Inc began ranking WWT beginning in 1997.   In 2004 Steward wrote a book about his company called, Doing Business by the Good Book: 52 Lessons on Success Straight from the Bible. WWT is ranked number 24 on the Fortune 2013 Top 100 listing of companies to work for.

 You see, history, and the lessons there from, can be learned from a variety of sources, including the Bible, which is chocked full of leadership skills, techniques, strategies and ideals. The New International Version (NIV), Leadership Bible: Leadership Principles from God’s Word is a valuable leadership learning resource. It should be noted, and quite emphatically, that these valuable leadership lessons and practices are not intended solely for churches and other religious organization.

The Learning Organization

Success embodies life-long learning as a practical and sustaining attribute. Leaders know this – as life and organizations evolve, new policies, principles and practices create changes to improve employee effectiveness. Leaders not only train employees on new ideas and practices, they also expect them to research, study and learn on their own.

For a variety of reasons, few organizations keep the same leadership over several years. During the tenure of a particular leader, successes are achieved, affirmations proclaimed and awards are garnered. Success and the rewards achieved can peak, and unless learning continues, begin to plateau. Follow-on leadership must insure enthusiasm does not relax or diminish, which can easily decline into less than effective work ethics. People must remember past practices to sustain efficiency, learn from new ideas, and change accordingly to maintain sustainability.

An effective learning organization will inhibit periods of decline through the building process of an organizational legacy.

Five Attributes of a Learning Organization

The Apostle Paul, in a letter written in AD/NE 62 to the people of Colosse, as laid out in the Leadership Bible, Book of Colossians, outlines five major attributes of a Learning Organization. In the letter, Paul’s desire is for leaders of the church to instill an ideal of learning. In a functional organization, learning takes place at all times, during work, in building relationships, after hours, quite frankly – at all times. Each organization has a curriculum built into the daily functions of all employees. The learning organizational structure – curriculum – is outlined in five attributes.

Godl Key   Standards. Organizational values, employee ethical expectations, and behavioral standards must be outlined clearly, and disseminated in writing to each and every employee, as well as publishing them in the Organization’s policy and procedures. 

Godl Key   Instruction. Just knowing of the standards – wisdom – is insufficient for sustainability. Training sessions must be held to explain their meanings and the associated ethical practices required by employees – understanding. Wisdom and Understanding help leaders achieve employee acceptance, as well as buy-in that teaches the importance in instituting the standards into their individual value systems. Employees must understand that they represent the company regardless of their location and whether working or living in their community.

 Godl Key  Practice. Practice makes perfect. Practice creates habitual behaviors, which teach personal growth and life-skills. Practice also enables success after failure by teaching what “should” have been done versus what “was” done. Practice builds expertise in professional skills and personal life styles. Practice solidifies the value system associated with professionalism that sustains with growth and learning.

  Godl KeyFeedback. Leaders need to constantly and consistently monitor and evaluate performance. Employees require feedback in order to insure practice is productive. And when exceptional or positively productive, public praise is required to build confidence and esteem. Conversely, private feedback is necessary when practice reflects negatively on the individual, the team, and the organization. Private feedback reinforces instruction. It re-teaches required policies and practices, to re-direct the employee’s learning and productivity. It then allows for follow-on practice and future feedback. Feedback teaches for personal growth. 


  Godl KeyRelease. Micro-managing, even micro-leading, is counterproductive to growth and employee effectiveness and efficiency. Constantly keeping an “eye-ball” on those you lead creates an “ask the boss” mentality that inhibits personal confidence and growth. Leaders must release control, leaders must empower others, leaders must let employees make mistakes from which they can learn, leaders must let them grow and function on their own. Sooner or later leaders must let them “drive Dad’s car” to demonstrate that their personal values and behaviors conform with organizational norms and expectations. Release is vitally important to long-term growth and performance.

The attributes of a learning organization create an attitude of endurance, which prevents fall-back to old, unproductive ways, and enables sustainability. Employees desire standards for their own behaviors, they desire to learn and grow, they desire to be empowered to fail or succeed, and they desire to be turned loose to become leaders in their own right.

 One intrinsic reward of leadership is knowing that you made a difference in the organizational learning process. Material rewards are short-lived; intrinsic rewards are life-long and become your personal legacy.  

I appreciate your thoughts and comments.

The Servanthood of Customer Service


While standing in the check-out line in Publix, I listened as a Lady in line ahead of me was explaining some customer service techniques and skills a young female checker needed to improve her expertise: “greet people, smile, be positive, she said.” The young checker never responded, either verbally or non-verbally. I whispered to the Lady, “They don’t teach them customer service skills.” She said, “I know, that is why I do it.” While the young Lady did at least greet me verbally as I paid for my goods, she remained expressionless and failed to even express Publix gratitude for shopping at her store.

 Joan Maddox, VP of Client Services for School Dude says, “Client service must be reliable, responsive, reassuring, and empathetic.” She stresses that client service is a commitment, and that it must not be an option, but a requirement of your job. In her Client Service presentations, Maddox quotes Dr. Leonard L. Berry, who is a Distinguished Professor of Marketing and former Texas A&M Professor. Dr. Berry says this about customer expectations:

“Customer expectations of service organizations are loud and clear; look good, be responsive, be reassuring through courtesy and competence, be empathetic but, most of all, be reliable. Do what you said you would do. Keep the service promise.”

Customer Service, customer relations, client services, regardless of how you brand it, it can either positively or negatively affect revenue, organizational vision and customer attitude about the organization. In fact, if you are a customer service representative – and who isn’t? – then “you are” the company or organization you represent. As such, there is a “Servanthood” attitude that must be portrayed in every exchange you have with a client.

 J C Penny, founder of JC Penny Company, is famous for saying, “The Customer is always right.” His idea was that Customer Service is priority one at JC Penny. CEO Emeritus of Southwest Airlines, Coleen Barrett, always said about her company, “We are a Customer Service Company, we just happen to fly airplanes.”


Customer Service is a leadership skill that must be trained, practiced, and perfected to insure employees represent the company in the brightest pane possible. Servanthood is a major aspect of customer service, which says that one is “serving” the needs of others. Using Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership ideals, “serving” in this context means “to make them better” than they were when the encounter began. In other words, “healing” the customer’s stress and pain, while relieving them of their perceived burden is a characteristic of quality customer service.

 The following are from my experience of over 40 years of providing customer service.

 Top 5 Customer Service Principles

 1. Establish a vision of Customer Service Expectations. If the company vision and/or mission statement says you will focus on customer service, then establish a program that insures you will do what you say. Follow the practice of Southwest Airlines: “Hire people with a ‘servants’ heart. Customer Service representatives need to care about fostering and promoting the vision and/or mission of the company. Establish standards for those you place in customer service positions: caring attitude; cheerful, happy demeanor; outgoing personality who are assertive and proactive conflict resolvers; courteous and respectful; good communication skills; and gracious in personality.

 I recommend a Customer Service Motto that will not only tell the customers your attitude about providing superior service, but also to remind representatives of company expectations. In my last position, our Custodial Services Motto was the following:

 “Customer Service is our Purpose, Quality Service is our Goal.”

 We used the motto in our Standards and at the end of all our communications. Everyone in the organization knew our standards and our goal of providing superior customer services.

 2. Establish a Customer Service Training Program. Train new employees, and re-train periodically current customer service reps, on the visionary expectations. Servanthood is the “practice” of serving. Teach the common behaviors of customer service representative: telephone etiquette; conflict resolution techniques and skills; develop an attitude to resolve the problem to make a positive impression on the customer; and impress upon employees to not take the customer’s anger and negativity personally. Keep the quest alive to resolve the customers complaint.

 Customer Service expert Glen Hamilton advises, “Create Happy Employees. Employee beliefs, attitudes and behaviors determine the quality of the customer service provided. Happy employees create happy customers.”

 3. Establish relations with customers. JC Penny knew that a happy customer was a returning customer.

 Shawn E. Gilleylen, author of “Success with Etiquette: Books of Etiquette” explains the importance of etiquette toward customers – “make customers feel comfortable, valued, and appreciated. Treat them with respect, empathy, and efficiency.” She also says, which I call most important, “Say “Thank you” and “Please” graciously.

 Exceptional Rating

4. Monitor and evaluate their performance. Leaders must proactively monitor and evaluate customer relations practices in action – inspect what you expect is a proven leadership principle. Glen Hamilton maintains that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it; the same is for leaders. He suggests several ways to measure customer satisfaction, including surveys, telephone contacts, customer feedback forms, and observing employees to insure they are functioning within prescribed customer service standards.

 5. Maintain Customer Service Pride. Recognize employees who demonstrate customer service excellence, who are recognized by customers for superior performance, and who promote company goals within Customer Service missions. Advertise the recognition through company Newsletters. Create a “Customer Service Plaque” and hang it in the main entrance area of the company for everyone to see.

 Southwest Airlines is known for two things: low fares and high levels of quality customer service. United States Automobile Association (USAA) seeks to be the provider of choice to the military community. Their employees are personally committed to delivering excellent service and great advice by putting their memberships’ needs (customers) first.

 arrow - swirlsCustomer service is “serving” others first. When customers walk out the main entrance of your company fully satisfied, everyone feels good about their accomplishments. Maintaining company Servanthood is vitally important to organizational success.

 Thank you for your comments and feedback.