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Oct 20, 2011
By Gerald Meck

Categories: Leadership & Organizational Development


Recently I was working at my desk preparing for a board meeting when one of the members came into my office, and began to talk to me. My first reaction was that I did not have the time to talk. Why was he disturbing me as I prepared for the meeting?

Since he did not have my phone number, the board member had come to the meeting early hoping I would be available because he had some ideas and comments to share with me.  Feeling impatient, but also wanting to be respectful, I listened to what he had to say.

He stated that he thinks about me often as I navigate the difficult day to day challenges of the organization where I am serving as Acting Executive Director. He provided me with some suggestions about how to deal with staff morale and trust issues, and gave me a quote to read on the importance of being transparent when dealing with a difficult situation. He affirmed my leadership and thanked me for my service to the organization.

I felt my impatience melting away.  I listened, no longer out of obligation, but because I welcomed his words of encouragement.  This experience reminded me how important it is to take time to encourage and acknowledge others for their work.

As I reflected further on this conversation I was reminded of a quote from John Quincy Adams: “A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.”

This board member demonstrated leadership by example.

One of North Group Consultant’s leadership principles states: “Leaders have the ability to give encouragement, affirmation and challenge in appropriate amounts.”

Giving and receiving encouragement, affirmation and challenge are powerful tools for motivating and empowering ourselves and others.  May we all demonstrate leadership in our ability to give and receive these building blocks of character in appropriate amounts.


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