4 Ways Boards of Directors Use Servant Leadership


The Board Chairperson is like the moon shining by a light no less spectacular because it is only reflected. This kind of chair never forgets that the conductor doesn’t make the music.”

~John Carver

The Unique Double Servant-Leadership Role of the Board Chairperson by John Carver is chapter three of the book we are using as a guide, Practicing Servant-Leadership: Succeeding Through Trust, Bravery, and Forgiveness by Larry C. Spears and Michelle Lawrence.

John Carver provides an excellent discussion and a sort of paradigm shift on the role of the board chairperson and the role of the board as a group in his chapter on servant leadership. Having served on several boards of directors in the past, I am always refreshed by Carver’s no-nonsense concepts for boards and their chairs and how eloquently and transparently Servant leadership serves as the way for boards to operate to better serve the people and the organization.

Carver argued that boards of directors are in trouble and have been in trouble for years. He quotes Peter Drucker in 1974, Harold Geneen in 1984 and the Danforth Foundation report in 1992 indicating that boards are primarily nonfunctioning. Geneen complained that about 95% of the top 500 companies in America’s boards are not doing what they are supposed to do – morally, ethically, and legally.

And that they couldn’t, even if they wanted to.

In this vein, Carver proposes four ways that boards can shift in consciousness to become a functioning board. Here is a recap of each.

Transformation Toward a Substantially New Institution

Carver created a program called Policy Governance®  model which sets a new course for board leadership that aligns with Robert Greenleaf’s vision to, “invite people to consider a new domain of leadership grounded in a state of being, not doing.” Servant Leaders understand that leadership and service are not something you do, rather it is an expression of being. Transforming toward a new institution is not about organizing a better agenda or more fundraising. It is about a deeper level of consciousness whereby leadership at a high level concerns itself with values- the importance of life, commitment to life and the tradeoffs of a life of service.

Governing boards have to be able to combine the ideas of technology and values to connect as Carver says who we are and what we can do. The compelling question that John Gardner asks us as servant leaders is, “Do we have it in us to create a future worthy of our past?” Board leadership must integrally mean the phrase, “on behalf of” to every single motion, vote, idea, action, and plan to act on behalf of others. Indeed, the best of board governance is possible when it includes the concepts of servant leadership.

Where Servanthood Begins: Fidelity to the Organization

Board leadership should always operate under the awareness that it is to be an owner-representative. This means that the board understands that if they are operating on someone’s behalf, they should know who that someone is. And that the board’s role consists of an intimate relationship with those owners, not the relationship to staff. Carver argues that the board is a servant to the owners. In this way, the board takes it upon themselves to know what the owners want before it decides on what the organizational goals should be. The owners should expect that a board operating on their behalf know about them, better than they know about themselves regarding the organization and the matters at hand. As a Texas legislator said one time that sums it up, “I vote the way my constituents would vote if they knew what I know.”

The Discipline of Leadership

Carver discusses the concept called the problem of agency which is defined as using one’s own judgment on behalf of someone else. The challenge with the problem of agency is that an agent has to be able to subjugate their personal needs in the service of the other. This is what servant leadership is about. Board members who are Servant Leaders know that when they take their seats, a transformation must take place wherein they are the vessels through which others dreams, decide, vision, and intend. De Tocqueville’s experiences capture the point beautifully. Citizens, he said, got involved in their local civic organizations first out of self-interest, yet as they became keenly aware and mindful of their public responsibility, they began to transcend their self-interest to other interested. This is the transformation board members must engage in as Servant Leaders.

Another crucial point for board members to remember if that as Servant Leaders, board members must transition from an operational mindset to a governing mindset. To not make this transition will cripple the board. Operational behavior does not serve the board of directors, rather a conceptual mindset is what is needed. Greenleaf referenced this when he said, “Leadership, in the sense of going out ahead to show the way is more conceptual than operating.” It is necessary for board members to become conceptual people who envision a world that isn’t, rather than think and operating from a world that is.

I have been on boards where it was our goal to recruit members with a certain skill set, say, for example, an attorney, an accountant, etc. to make sure we would have the skills on the board that we needed. But, that can work against a board. Carver says that board should learn to use experts to inform the wisdom of the board but never to substitute for it. Wow! Boards have to take responsibility as a group and not lean on one skill set to save themselves from their group responsibility. There is a huge difference in board-as-expert-collection from the board as responsible servant leaders for an ownership.

From Responsible Individuals to Responsible Boards

Lastly, Carver points out that it is not enough for trustees to be servant leaders individually. Doing so is not conducive to creating a servant leadership group. He says that boards can easily be incompetent groups of competent people, untrustworthy groups of trustworthy people, and cruel groups of good-hearted people.

Bam! I had to read that twice!

Greenleaf reminded us that servant leaders role as board members is to act as a unitary body. It’s all about working as a group. Carver says there is a simple way to test this. He says that any board that authentically works as a group will tell its CEO when we speak as individuals in or out of board meetings, you never have to pay attention to any of us!” Working as a group of board members allows boards to delegate clearly and powerfully to a CEO. As Carver point out, board members must speak with one voice and one voice only. A chairperson’s authority must come from a group decision. This is not to say or imply that there will always be unanimous votes, but that if the mindset and consciousness are not spoken as a group it hasn’t spoken at all.

Carver pulls us on the carpet as board members regarding our consciousness and ways of working for the organization and the owners. He uses Servant Leadership as a guidepost for how we can radically shift the way we see our role as board members. This chapter is right on time as I have just accepted a board position with a state coalition. These concepts and ideas are here to remind me of my goal as a servant leader with this board.

Caroline Myss, in her book, Invisible Acts of Power: Channeling Grace in your Everyday Life puts it this way, “We must come to terms with our personal agendas and desires while on the path of impersonal, spiritual service. Our task is to infuse our action with all our faith and belief in its goodness and release it into the universe to do its invisible work.”


To Boards That Serve,

Dr. Crystal


6 Applications of Servant Leadership


SL #2

Servant Leadership deals with the reality of power in everyday life- its legitimacy, the ethical restraints upon it and the beneficial results that can be attained through the appropriate use of power.”   ~New York Times

The Understanding and Practice of Servant-Leadership by Larry C. Spears is chapter two of the book we are using as a guide, Practicing Servant-Leadership: Succeeding Through Trust, Bravery, and Forgiveness by Larry C. Spears and Michelle Lawrence.

The concept of Servant Leadership has continued to explode onto the organizational and corporate scene since my enlightenment of the concept from an academic (although lifelong) perspective six years ago. In fact, we have witnessed this explosion on and interest in servant leadership with fire over the last fifteen years. A concept coined by Robert Greenleaf now over 40 years ago, is creating a quiet revolution in today’s workplace all over the world.

Servant Leadership is about a shift in consciousness about the way we live and work. It is about working based on teamwork and collective decision-making. It is based in an ethical and caring concern for others, and it is about enhancing the growth of others while caring about the quality of our institutions and organizations. Indeed, Servant Leadership is a better, more holistic approach to serving others first. Others meaning employees, customers, and the communities in which we live.

We are not naïve in thinking that Servant Leadership is a quick fix to the problems in life and the workplace. Servant Leaders understand that this way of being is a long-term, every-single-day, transformational approach to life and work. And so, we as Servant Leaders live each day in a conscious effort to create positive change for our immediate world (our job, our home, our kids, our community) and that trickles out into the greater world community.

My mom is a servant leader. Granted, she didn’t know about Robert Greenleaf or the other great scholars of today like DePree, Senge, Covey, Wheatley, Autry, and many other popular writers who teach Servant Leadership. She just worked in the church, in her family, at her job, and in her community as a Servant Leader. I saw firsthand as a child how she worked first as a cook at our local county jail preparing food for the inmates. After 30 years, promoted to the Food Service Director, she showed great care and concern for the preparation of the food for inmates. She abhorred people’s opinions that prisoners should be glad that they can even eat. She fried her famous chicken and would sneak some to the jailers who would come up to the kitchen and beg for a piece. Although a stern woman who told you like it was, she has a heart of gold and the prisoners knew it.

They felt it.

It was the same way with her work in the church. I participated in cooking and preparing so many church dinners that I cannot even count. They knew my mom would present and serve the food to the people with the utmost professionalism, love, and care. And everyone loved my Mom’s cooking.

I was reminded of this childhood experience as I was reading Juana Bordas article, “Pluralistic Reflections on Servant Leadership” when she said, “Many women, minorities and people of color have long traditions of servant-leadership in their cultures. Servant-Leadership has very old roots in many of the indigenous cultures. Cultures that were holistic, cooperative, communal, intuitive, and spiritual. These cultures centered on being guardians of the future and respecting the ancestors who walked before.”

This was my mother’s life. This is what she taught by example.

And today, I have the ideal opportunity to practice my servant leadership through my care-taking of her for the last 15 years. She now lives her the rest of her autumn days in a nursing home, most days remembering her life. She is proud, and I am grateful that she showed me the way, she is excited that I took an academic path toward understanding and teaching servant leadership. But, at the end of the day, she would tell you, just be it!

So, Spears provides us with a glimpse into the six applications of servant leadership that are being used by organizations across the country today. Here is a short re-cap of each.

Servant-Leadership as an Institutional Model

  • As an institutional model, servant leadership advocates a group-oriented approach to decision-making and seeks consensus over the old top-down form of leadership. Many organizations today use the servant leadership model as a guiding philosophy. Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, and the Men’s Wearhouse, just to name a few.

Education and Training of Nonprofit Trustees

  • Greenleaf wrote extensively on the role of boards of directors within institutions and the theoretical and ethical basis for their service. His essay, “Trustees as Servants” asked two pivotal questions of Boards and Trustees, “Whom do you serve?” and “For what purpose?” Greenleaf argued that boards must a make a radical shift in how they approach their roles so as to create institutions of great depth and quality.

Community Leadership Programs

  • The third application of servant leadership is it role in community leadership organizations and the importance of building true community. M. Scott Peck wrote about this in his book, A World Waiting to be Born, in which he says, “The world will be saved if we can create three well-managed, large institutions- one in the private section, one in the public sector, and one in the nonprofit sector. I know that such excellence in management will be achieved through an organizational culture of civility routinely utilizing the mode of community.”

Service-Learning Programs

  • A fourth application of servant leadership is the use of service-learning in the various colleges and universities across the country. During the last twenty-five years, experiential learning educations programs are developed in virtually every college, university, and secondary schools. Service-Learning has become a major focus combining service and learning. The National Society for Experiential Education has published a massive three-volume work on the topic.

Leadership Education

  • A fifth application of servant leadership is the use of the philosophy in formal and informal, as well as corporate education and training programs. And dozens of management, organizational consultants, and leaderships consultants employ servant leadership materials as a part of their work with organizations. As a part of total quality management approaches, Servant Leadership is making headway for corporations in understanding how business is developed and conducted, while still positively affecting the bottom line.

Personal Transformation

  • Programs relating to personal growth and transformation are using the servant leadership approach as a way for people to grow and evolve -spiritually, professionally, emotionally, and intellectually. Servant Leadership has ties to emotional intelligence and human potential. The key to servant leadership is that it offers and encourages everyone to seek out opportunities to both serve and lead.

In the end, Servant Leadership is full of curious and meaningful paradoxes, just like life. The seeds of servant leadership have been planted in the minds and hearts of people who seek to better the human condition. Indeed, Servant Leadership provides the vehicle and framework for known and unknown individuals to continue to hope and guide the way to the creation of a better, more conscious and caring world community.


To A Better World,

Dr. Crystal


Servant Leadership and the Long View


I feel optimistic about the future because humanity seems to be growing more mature; scientists are paying more attention to our inner values, to the study of mind and the emotions. There is a clear desire for peace and concern for the environment.”

~Dalai Lama

Servant Leaders understand that taking the long view to positive outcomes for the world is a part of being a force for good. Thinking in new ways is critical to creating a compassionate world. This is what the Dalai Lama argues in the book, A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World, chapter eleven, The Long View.

The Dalai Lama’s vision for the world seems radically different from the one we know and can seem impossibly idealistic. But, as Bab Amte once said, “No one has the right to arrange a funeral for the future.”

In the sense that the Servant leaders guide people toward a shared goal, servant leadership is widely distributed and is demonstrated in all of the stories shared in Goleman’s book. Whether we are within our family, among friends, on social media, in an organization, or society as a whole, we are all servant leaders in one way or another, if only from time to time.

The Dalai Lama argues that we all can play a part in the network of influence and impact in the world today. Indeed, a lot of the changes the Dalai Lama speaks of are systemic, and it will take all of us to make the shift. I wrote about systems thinking some time ago. You can read that blog here.

The Dalai Lama presented an example of a movement within science to study contemplative practice and how it started with just one scientist. Then, that scientist engaged friends in the conversation, and then they informed and invited other friends to the conversation.

The scientist met colleagues at conferences and all of the sudden, an informal network formed into an active professional network that collectively came together to find solutions.

“No single person can change the world. Now, we are in the modern era, with democracy, it’s really the voice of the people together, the collective, that will make the difference” says the Dali Lama.

But what of discouragement many feel, Goleman asked the Dalai Lama. He said that we should plants seeds of a better world. We have to begin somewhere and know that shift is gradual. Education and awareness are critical for the younger generation.

At the end of the day, we should not be daunted by these lofty goals. The Dalai Lama says about his own efforts, “I am not expecting to see a result. It may take twenty or thirty years or more. I tell students in their twenties that they may live to see the results, but we all have a responsibility to act now, even if we will never see the fruition of our efforts.”

Servant leaders understand that thinking for the long term, that is to have a long view, helps us to leave the world better for our children than as we found it.


To the Long View,

Dr. Crystal


Heal The Earth


NOTE: Good Afternoon to you all! I have been away for a few weeks grant writing for a client! What a perfect example of Servant Leadership I have experienced through fundraising. And, my first book was released on Amazon! It can found at http://amzn.to/1WXxxqO . It is very exciting times for us and we thank you for your patience. We will begin where we left off with Chapter 8, Heal the Earth….

When seen from outer space, our beautiful blue planet has no national boundaries.”

~Dalai Lama

Servant Leaders understand the value of care and concern for the earth. The environmental damage that the earth suffers today requires our immediate attention, not in some distant future with regard to cutting emissions and lowering the temperature of the earth. This is what the Dalai Lama argues in the book, A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World, chapter eight, Heal The Earth.

The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying, “Many of the Earth’s habitats, animals, plants, insects, and even micro-organisms that we know to be rare may not be known by future generations.” We have the resources and the ability to act now. It is our responsibility, before it is too late. The ongoing ecological damage to the planet is creating another set- a different set- of powerless victims;

  • Species at risk for extinction,
  • Future generations who will live in very bad environmental conditions, and
  • People of the poorest countries whose health and environment are disproportionately harmed by the consumption habits of America and the world.

The Dalai Lama has learned from top environmental researchers that our current geological age called Anthropocene (meaning “human” in Greek) is the recognition of how humans and their activities have deteriorated the planet’s life-support systems- two of the best known are the carbon cycle and global warming.

So, what should we do? How do we get ourselves out of this mess we’ve made?

Radical Transparency

Because we as a human race are for the most part blind to our carbon footprint on Earth, the Dalai Lama says that we need a “deeper transparency.” Transparency with regard to, for example, the life cycle of the smart phone.

A cellular phone’s life cycle today may begin with the mining of rare earths in China and Africa—some of those area controlled not by the government buy by militia that deploy slave labor and that same life cycle end in a poor village somewhere in India, where the people are exposed to toxic mix of cyanide because of the need is to recover the valuable bits (gold) in the circuit boards.

An example of radical transparency is seen in the new software that makes it easier today to track the life cycle of cell phones and the companies that sell the ones that are the least harmful to the planet.  This kind of transparency could alert us to how our purchases connect to the planet in a harmful or at least the least harmful way.

Educating Our Children

More education and transparency can help us to awaken to the knowledge and understanding of each of our individual responsibility and accountability to heal the earth. The Dalai Lama believes it is necessary to educate our children as he believes our children are open-minded and flexible, and will understand the care of the planet as a natural part of life. We must take these steps before our eyes are stinging and our lungs are burning as then it may be far too late.

The Dalai Lama admits, “I am from the last century, and our generation created a lot of problems. The youth of this century are the planet’s real humanity now. They can work together in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood to share ideas, and find solutions. They are our real hope.”

Goleman tells the story of a teacher in Northhampton, Massachusetts who brought a small crate of clementines to share with her second grade class. The assignment was to think about all the people and places involved in getting those clementines to their classroom -and to send a silent good wish to them.

The students started thinking and when asked to call out the people, places and things involved in the clementine’s arrival to their classroom, they began shouting out, the sun, the water, the people who grew the tree, the store people. They were getting it. They understood all of the people and things it took to get that clementine in their hands all the way from Morocco.

The teacher then asked them to peel it, feel it, and to put all of their focus on the clementine. This exercise in mindfulness allowed the students to pause and send good wishes to everyone who was involved in delivering the single clementine to their hands.

This exercise stretched those second-graders’ minds in at least three ways;

  • Paying close attention to the clementine exercised the mental muscle of focus,
  • Wishing well to the people who made having the fruit possible and thanking them widened the circle of caring, and
  • Awareness of the chain of people who brought that fruit from Morocco to their school suggested systems thinking.

In the end, Servant Leaders understand and take the appropriate action to lessen their carbon footprint as individuals, educate our children as a community, and do what is necessary to heal the earth.


To Healing the Earth,

Dr. Crystal


The Kindness Revolution


My religion is Kindness.”

– Dalai Lama XIV

Servant Leaders understand that kindness is the way for an authentic leader. In Goleman’s book, A Force For Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World, chapter three, The Kindness Revolution, the Dalai Lama tells a story, in a room filled with eight thousand people at Emory University in Atlanta, of a gentleman by the name of Richard Moore who was blinded by a rubber bullet fired by a British soldier during the trouble in Northern Ireland.

Remarkably, Moore got over his self-pity and forgave the soldier. Moore was in the audience that night and much to the dismay of the State Department security, the Dalai Lama walked off the stage into the crowd and greeted Moore in the Tibetan gesture of mutual respect. “Love, love, love,” says the Dalai Lama, “I call him my hero! You know, your sight can be taken away, but not your vision.”

Richard Moore went on to finish his university education and he founded the Children in Crossfire, an organization that seeks to better the lives of children in countries such as Tanzania, Ethiopia, and the Gambia- those children who have been caught up in the war. What is amazing about this is that the Dalai Lama’s (a person that millions of people idealize) message is compassion and forgiveness, and he sees Moore as a personal hero. Fascinating!

In another story of compassion, Goleman told of when the Dalai Lama was told he had won the Nobel Peace Prize. When asked by the reporters, “How does it feel to win the Nobel Prize?” the Dalai Lama responded, “I am happy…..for those who wanted me to win the prize.” And when he learned about the money that came with the prize, the Dalai Lama immediately thought of whom he would give it.

The Dalai Lama isn’t asking us to be kinder because he says so. He is calling us to a deeper awareness and consciousness arguing that our emotional world affects the people around us and leads to a more compassionate outlook. The moment you think of others, your mind widens, says the Dalai Lama.

Here’s a summary of the chapter.

Beyond Religion

A European preacher once told the Dalai Lama that compassion can only come through faith and God’s blessing. Well, the Dalai Lama questioned that as he had heard that animals like dolphins and elephants can show compassion. Even dogs and cats can be compassionate-, and that’s not through faith. The Dalai Lama challenges the assumptions that he is solely a religious figure. He understands human suffering from his deep spiritual reflections, but as a world leader, he envisions the larger world perspective.

Finding compassion as a common theme in the world’s religion, the Dalai Lama seeks to engage a common agreement amongst all of us- those who have faith and those who do not- that are a set of human ethical values that promote qualities like compassions, forgiveness, self-discipline, and contentment.

The Case for Compassion

Compassion has been studied scientifically, and research by the National Institute of Mental Health indicated that children before the age of 2 show compassion. Children are universally attuned to another child’s distress and most often will try to comfort them.

The Dalai Lama says that children, “Already know the map of emotions” especially when their parents are compassionate. One factor seems to be when parents direct a toddler’s attention to empathy when they say, “Look how sad you made her feel” to a misbehaving child, rather than, “You were naughty when you hit her.” The Dalai Lama believes- and science proves- that innate ethical compassion is a biological feature of our species.

Wise Selfish

Wise selfish means that we see our own well-being in everyone else’s well-being. The Dalai Lama says that self-focus has become so excessive that we become oblivious to other’s needs. Self-focus does three things:

  1. Narrows our vision
  2. Limits broad thinking and consciousness, and
  3. Affects our immune system, leaving us open to a variety of dis-eases.

Indeed, compassion reduces fear, boosts confidence, and opens us to our inner strength.

Goleman told of a story where he and his wife has some unexpected downtime with the Dalai Lama, and when he wife asked what he had been doing, the Dalai Lama replied, “shopping.” Taken aback, as the Dalai Lama never shops, she asked, “What for?” The Dalai Lana replied, “A toy for my cat.” Someone had given the Dalai Lama a tiny, wobbly stray kitten and the Dalai Lama knew it would have died if left on the street, so he took it in. His heart warms at the thought of the love the little kitten has for him.

A Sense of Oneness

The Dalai Lama treats everyone with respect. Goleman told of how the Dalai Lama was waiting backstage for the mayor of San Francisco as he was delayed to offer an official welcome to the city. Although there was a handful of dignitaries waiting nearby, the Dalai Lama made a beeline to one of the stagehands to chat it up.

On another occasion, the Dalai Lama was visiting Mikhail Gorbachev, and he paused and went over to shake hands with the guard at the door. The guard later told that in the 25 years he had been standing there, that any dignitary had so much as noticed him-yet- the Dalai Lama shook his hand. The Dalai Lama treats everyone with respect, “whether high officials or beggars – no difference, no distinctions.”

The Dalai Lama challenges us to model a person-to-person caring with the understanding that we are all the same. Underneath ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, and the like.

The Dalai Lama says, “If I were to say, I’m his Holiness, the Dali Lama” imitating a pompous, puff-up person, “Then I am in a prison. The sense of being special is a form of self-deception. Whenever I talk to a few people or thousands, I consider them and myself the same- same emotions, same body. Then we feel a closeness.”

Understanding our shared humanity leads to compassion for everyone.

Loving Everyone

People all over the world admire the Dalai Lama for how he embodies qualities like humility, resilience, and compassion. But, Goleman wondered who inspires the Dalai Lama? The first person he names is Shantideva, an eighth-century Indian sage whose book, A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way if Life he respects for its compete program of ethical discipline and mental training designed to achieve unstinting compassion.

The Dalai Lama advises that anyone can practice compassion – even for our enemies – but it’s no easy feat. We should try to each day be compassionate, have the right motivations and approach it with common sense and good reasoning (no religion required). But, for those who hold religious faith, reason can deepen convictions. And now science provides us with a universal path to embrace compassion.

Next week: Partnering With Science


To the Kindness Revolution,

Dr. Crystal


Emotional Hygiene


Now there are many, many people in the world, but relatively few with whom we interact, and even fewer who cause us problems. So when you come across such a chance for practicing patience and tolerance, you should treat it with gratitude. It is rare. Just as having unexpectedly found a treasure in your own house, you should be happy and grateful toward your enemy for providing you that precious opportunity. Because if you are ever to be successful in your practice of patience and tolerance, which are critical factors in counteracting negative emotions, it is due to your own efforts and also the opportunity provided by your enemy.” ~Dalai Lama XIV


Servant Leaders understand that emotional intelligence is a key competency of Servant Leadership. As does the Dalai Lama in the book, A Force For Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World by Daniel Goleman. The Dalai Lama calls this emotional hygiene and says that we should caution against, “the enemies of our well-being” that are negative feelings that either leads us to harm ourselves or others or undermine us through inner turbulence, hijacking our mental freedom.

One enemy of our well-being can be our attitude. It is necessary to  check our internal thermometer to gauge how we are feeling. Our mental freedom is important to our sense of peace because as the Dalai Lama puts it, “An unruly, agitated human mind, given the fits of rage, malice, obsessive craving, jealousy, or arrogance can ruin lives.” By minding our feelings, we can face them head-on that is a first step to managing them.

Minding our Feelings

Becoming aware of our feelings helps to offset what the Dalai Lama calls an emotional hijack.  One method to handle rocky emotions is to notice the emotional stirrings that signal destructive emotions, then thinking about what those emotions mean (mindfulness). Using a fresh perspective, a different perspective, on our feelings rather than the same old thoughts that usually goes with the emotions can help us control and emotional hijack.

When we handle turbulent emotions, it helps to understand the build up to them. If we can understand the build up to the emotional hijack (what happens leading up to it), then we can short-circuit what otherwise would become a huge emotional hijack. How do we get there?

Getting There

Psychologists’ Phillip Shaver and Mario Mikulincer met with the Dalai Lama and talked about their experiments on how to evoke secure based feelings-that is more kindness- even in people whose feelings were stuck in insecure patterns. What they found is people who are insecure tend to be less tolerant of other groups and are less likely to act altruistically and are less compassionate.

The psychologists concluded that helping people shift into a more secure sense of self, positive states of consciousness- that in doing so, insecure people showed a greater willingness to help someone. They were more compassionate.

Words like love triggered a kind of attachment that made people more mentally available while staying stuck to our insecurity makes us susceptible to a sea of negative feelings. A secure state of consciousness (being) diminishes destructive emotions (emotional hijack) and amplifies our positive ones.

The Dalai Lama argues that cultivating a greater control over our inner world is a potential for everyone and in this way, we can lessen our destructive feelings like anger, fear, and suspicion. It’s all about becoming mindful of negative thoughts. Understanding where we are and where we want to go in our internal world is critical to Servant Leaders. We could use a map to help us.

A Map of the Emotions

The Dalai Lama envisions that one day we will have this sort of map like an airline maps for air travel that can guide us through managing our emotions with the result being compassion.

It is important to know what emotions are helpful and which can become destructive, how they both develop, and the connections between them. The more we know about emotions, the better we can handle them. This is why a map of emotions can help.

It is also important to note that no emotion is good or bad. They are all useful in life. Fears can be valid in that they mobilize us to face an actual threat while, on the other hand, it can be destructive if it is a paralyzing distortion of reality or a wildly exaggerated misperceptions that are seen in agoraphobia.

Servant Leaders understand that the spectrum of emotions that run from our well-being to those that destroy offers main coordinates for our inner terrain. It is helpful to understand both the up and the downs because sometimes when we are so fixated on what’s upsetting us, we have no bandwidth left to notice others or to empathize with them.

We have to become more aware (mindful) of where our moods are coming from. We must delve deeper into the real causes and conditions of our destructive emotions. The Dalai Lama says whether we are guided by such a map or any other useful method, each of us is capable of making small improvement. A recent book on meditations says that even if it just, “ten percent happier,” we can begin by dealing with our own inner confusion and find a path to greater happiness.

Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB)

The CEB program integrates equal parts of Tibetan contemplative traditions and modern psychology to help people balance emotions. Eve Ekman, a medical social worker shared that CEB program with 60 inmates at the Soledad State Prison in Monterrey Bay, California. What she found is that as the prisoners were able to map their emotions (most had never felt loved, cared for, or connected found solace in drugs, and a life filled with fear, anger, and hurt), they were then able to step back from their emotional turmoil to see what they needed to release destructive feelings.

Guided contemplation offered the inmates tools for managing their inner worlds better. Five questions guided the meditation;

  1. What would it be like for me to attain genuine happiness?
  2. What would I need from the world to achieve this?
  3. What would I need from myself to achieve this?
  4. What habits would I need to learn?
  5. How could I bring this to the world and be of service?

Another practice Ekman used with the inmates was to focus on the sensation of their breathing. She called it resting on their inner refuge without worrying about the past of the future. She asked them not to dwell on the difficult, regretful past, but to use the present moment to set a new motivation, a new aspiration. For many of the inmates, this practice was liberating. The session closed with inmates silently wishing each person there-and themselves- well in their lives.

When Goleman last spoke to Ekman, she was going back to the prison to train three of the inmates from that day to teach the CEB program to anyone else that might be interested.

As can be seen, the CEB draws on some points that the Dalai Lama emphasizes from controlling our emotional impulses; a scientific understanding of emotions as well as contemplative tools that provide a way to cultivate a sense of ease.

Servant leaders understand that becoming cool and clear certainly does help our well-being, it alone will not help us in the service of a force for good.

For that,something more is needed: a moral compass.

Next week: The Kindness Revolution


To Emotional Well-Being,

Dr. Crystal

To Trusting Again


“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

~Mahatma Gandhi

Servant Leaders understand that when someone has broken your trust, it is a challenge to forgive and move forward. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything, in the chapter on Restoring Trust When it has Been Lost provides us with two guidelines to consider when others have lost your trust.

Don’t be too quick to judge

You know what it feels like when someone doesn’t trust you. Even worse, when you have been misunderstood, misinterpreted, or misjudged. So put the shoe on the other foot. Don’t assume that a failure of competence equals a failure of character. When we realize that some mistakes are not intentional, we can try not to make something more than it should be.

Do be quick to forgive

Forgiveness and trust are two different things. We cannot keep forgiving behavior that keeps happening over and over again. This is not Smart Trust. Forgiveness means that we can heal ourselves from the anger, blaming, vindictiveness, accusing, and retribution toward the person who caused the offense. Whether they did it intentionally or accidentally, we can refuse to take the role of judging them. We can let go of what is not in our control.

Now, forgiveness is not easy and for most of us takes divine intervention. But, whether or not we choose to trust, we must forgive- for our sake and the sake of others. Until we do, it is difficult for us to exercise Smart Trust, our Analysis, and our Propensity to Trust.

Covey says that “Forgiveness is a principle for a better life. It’s about righting wrongs. If we don’t forgive, we get in the way of our own clear judgment, emotional freedom, and we may also get in the way of someone else’s self-forgiveness and personal change.” This is a pretty heavy concept, right? We get in the way of some else’s self-forgiveness

Lord Herbert, British Philosopher and Theologian puts it this way, “He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he, too, must pass.”

Servant Leaders understand that it is in our best interest and others best interest to forgive. We are global citizens, a part of the human race, and as such, we can move ahead in resilience knowing that forgiveness brings an inner calm and ever abiding peace.

For many of us, broken trust is a deal breaker; a dead end. It’s the end of a relationship, and even worse, the end of self-confidence in the ability to ever trust again.


It doesn’t have to be. It can the start of a new beginning. Take for example;

If you’ve broken trust

  1. It’s an opportunity to get your act together.
  2. You can improve your character and competence.
  3. You can begin to behave in ways that inspire trust.
  4. It provides an opportunity for you to create more high-trust relationships in the future.

If someone has broken trust with you

  1. It’s an opportunity for you to grow your ability to forgive.
  2. You can learn to extend Smart Trust.
  3. Yu can maximize whatever is left to create dividends in the relationship.

In the end, Servant Leaders understand that in either situation, broken trust presents an opportunity for one to build up their self trust and personal credibility. It gives Servant Leaders a chance to grow in character and competence which provides the foundation for increased self-confidence in one’s discernment and ability to grow, restore, and extend trust on every level of one’s life.

As I write this morning to you, I have been presented with a real life situation in which to put these core values into personal action. I know that when one writes and teaches others about the concepts we’ve discussed over the past several weeks that I will be called to the carpet on them. It’s proof of what my Master teacher said to me, ““Crystal, you don’t have to be perfect in that which you teach. In fact, you can only teach that which you are learning.”

To Trusting Again,

Dr. Crystal

Servant Leadership and Restoring Trust


“I have found that by trusting people until they prove themselves unworthy of that trust,

 a lot more happens.” ~Jim Burke. Former CEO Johnson & Johnson

The last three concepts in Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything, are Extending Smart Trust, Restoring Trust When it has Been Lost, and A Propensity to Trust. Today, we review the second to last concept, Restoring Trust When it has Been Lost.

We all have been burned. Maybe someone has broken your trust, and you vowed NEVER to trust this person again or worse that you will never trust ANYONE again. You’ve even tried to restore trust in a person, and it FAILED. Indeed, maybe there are situations in which trust can never be restored.

However, in life, at some point, we have all made mistakes. We ruined a professional or personal relationship. A family has been torn apart, or we make an honest mistake of having failed only to discover that our failure is being interpreted as a violation of character. Nietzche put is best when he said, “There are no facts, only interpretations.

Servant Leaders understand that the idea that trust cannot be restored is a myth, however difficult, trust can be restored and often even enhanced. The key is that the opportunity to restore trust must be actively sought after to establish it, grow, it, restore, it, and wisely extend it. No matter how trust has been compromised the path back is the same; Servant Leaders must restore their personal credibility and engage in behavior that inspires trust.

When we look at the 5 Waves of Trust that Covey has discussed in the book, we can see how trust can be restored at every level.

Societal Trust

Restoring trust on a societal level means that trust must be built in industries, institutions, organization, businesses, and countries. Suspicion and cynicism must be replaced with contribution, value creation, and ethically sound behavior.

Market Trust

It’s true that with the global market if trust is lost with a customer, nine times out of ten, that customer will never come back. But, using the 4 Cores and 13 Behaviors, integrity makes it possible to restore and enhance trust. It’s about service recovery, whereby the problem itself becomes the gateway to create even greater trust. Transparency is an essential tool to restoring market trust.

Relationship Trust

In families and personal relationships, when trust has to be restored, one must be willing and able to ask for forgiveness and then change their behavior and build integrity through character. Family relationships are far more significant and as such one’s willingness and openness to restoring trust is greater. In close, personal relationships, the very effort of restoring trust can make the relationships stronger that it was before.


The biggest trust of all! It is probably the most difficult trust to restore. When we make promises to ourselves (i.e. I am going to exercise more), and we violate that trust, we often beat ourselves up badly and our self-worth and self-value takes a dive. We begin to wonder if we can ever have faith in what we tell ourselves- if we can trust ourselves. Lack of self-trust undermines our self-confidence and make us feel unworthy. To restore self-trust, one must review and articulate the 13 Behaviors in one’s life. Here is a recap of the 13 Behavior for self-trust:

  1. Talk Straight to Yourself. Don’t tell yourself lies like I’m worthless, I’ve blown it. Don’t justify bad behavior. Tell yourself the truth and do what you need to do to improve.
  2. Demonstrate Respect for yourself. Treat yourself with as much love as you would someone else. Don’t beat yourself up and demand more of yourself than you would others.
  3. Create Transparency in your Life. Be open and honest with yourself about where you are today and work on being a little better tomorrow.
  4. Right Wrongs. The wrongs you have done to yourself are forgivable. Forgive yourself and free yourself to work on developing self-trust and confidence again.
  5. Show Loyalty to Yourself. Don’t talk bad about yourself- in your head- or with others. Stop putting yourself down.
  6. Deliver Results. In your life about the goals and ideas that are important to you, no matter what others may feel or think. Set goals and work to accomplish them.
  7. Get Better. Challenge yourself to develop skills and competencies. Seek new knowledge and constantly set aside time to develop your capabilities.
  8. Confront Reality. Don’t live in denial and keep your head stuck in the sand. Face what you need to face and move forward in confidence.
  9. Clarify Expectations. Be clear with yourself about what you expect and don’t let other expectations rule your life. It is YOUR life. Live it with clarity and joy.
  10. Practice Accountability. Follow your own inspiration. If you have an insight, intuition, or idea about your life, follow it and don’t allow others expectations to control your life.
  11. Listen First. Take time to listen to your still small voice follow your inner guidance. Do not be persuaded by the opinions of others. Do what you are guided to do from within.
  12. Keep Commitments. Make commitments to yourself and treat them with the same respect and dignity you would your commitment to others.
  13. Extend Trust to Yourself. Trust your inner guidance and instincts. No one has ever said their instincts sent them down the wrong path. Trust yourself to receive guidance for your life. Trust your heart and KNOW that it is right. The Universe will always provide for you and will work together for YOUR GOOD!

Phew!!! Good stuff, right?

As I am writing and recapping the 13 behaviors this morning, I realize that as an emerging and evolving Servant Leader, I have to revisit the 13 behaviors and hold myself accountable to them.

I said to one of my Master teachers one time, “How do I teach this stuff when I am still a work in progress? It sometimes feels hypocritical. They said to me, “Crystal, you don’t have to be perfect in that which you teach. In fact, you can only teach that which you are learning.” If we don’t honor ourselves, how can we expect others to?

The 13 behaviors are a clear and honorable path to strengthen the four Cores. You remember them, don’t you? You will increase your Integrity, increase your Intent, increase you Capabilities, and improve Results. It feels good to my soul to know that I can reflect on these each day and get better. And better, and better. In this way, I can become the Servant Leader that I can trust, and in turn that others will trust as well.

I have provided us with some heavy stuff today. So, rather than finish the chapter, I will rest here and let us contemplate on these ideas. Next week, I will conclude the thoughts in this chapter before we move ahead to the last concept that Covey talks about, the Propensity to Trust.

At the end of the day, I have gained much insight and awareness around the 4 Cores and 13 behaviors. I hope that you have to. These ideas can provide Servant Leaders powerful and authentic tools for restoring trust when it has been lost.

To Restoring Trust,

Dr. Crystal

Servant Leadership and Inspiring Trust

Inspiringtrust“The first thing for any leader is to inspire trust.”

~Doug Conant, CEO, Campbell Soup Company

As we are nearing the end of our series on trust following Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything, we have three final concepts to discuss; Extending Smart Trust, Restoring Trust When it has Been Lost, and A Propensity to Trust.

How difficult is it to inspire trust? What Servant Leaders understand about trust is that:

  1. Nothing can be as profitable as the financial success of trust in the workplace
  2. Nothing is as relevant as the consciousness and the impact of trust
  3. Nothing is as important and valuable to every relationship on every level in your life as the dividends of trust.


Servant leaders are human, and as such, some residual feelings of fear, hesitancy, and skepticism may block extending trust to others. Somewhere deep in our consciousness we may believe that people can’t be trusted, or maybe we grew up or currently work in a low-trust environment. Even worse, maybe we have been burned in the past. Trust betrayed. Just maybe people have not extended meaningful trust to us.

In this last section of the book, Covey presents us with ideas and concepts about ways in which we can extend what he calls, “Smart Trust.” The consciousness of smart trust allows servant leaders to develop skills and competencies that help to avoid the pitfalls and ensures the greatest rewards for everyone.

Servant Leaders can learn to restore trust where it has been lost, and most of all, Servant Leaders must develop the propensity to trust. Indeed, it is critical to effective leadership and living.

Finally, Servant leaders understand that extending trust to others is the most important key to developing and sustaining high-trust environments at work and home. As a matter of fact, “Extend Trust” is one of the 13 behaviors we have been discussing the last six weeks.

At the end of the day, Servant leaders know that their first job is to inspire. Inspiring others is the line in the sand that differentiates the Servant leader from the manager. To inspire trust is paramount to true and authentic success. As the saying goes, “To be inspired is great, to inspire is incredible.”

To Inspiring Trust,

Dr. Crystal

Servant Leaders and Global Citizenship

global citizenship

The success of big business and the well-being of the world have never been more closely linked. Global issues cannot be removed from the business world because business has only one world in which to operate. Businesses cannot succeed in societies that fail.”                                                     ~Jorma Ollila, Chairman and CEO, Nokia

Stephen Covey (Stephen R. Covey’s son) reviews the idea of global citizenship in his book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything. Servant leaders understand that global citizenship is an individual choice and that it is about you and me making a conscious decision to value and always to consider the well-being of others.

Global Citizenship is about caring for others in every dimension of our lives. Covey mentions Gandhi’s well- known quote, “One man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in another department.”

Indeed, life is one indivisible whole. It is inconsistent to provide great customer service while at work and then to ignore the homeless person or neighbor in need who lives on your block. In doing so, unfortunately, we compartmentalize our lives, and this ultimately makes us feel fragmented and feel like we are living meaningless lives.

When we look at the 4 Cores from three perspectives, we can ponder on the following questions as it relates our self, our family, and or organizations:


  1. Am I credible?
  2. Do I have Intent to do good?
  3. Do I contribute to the world selflessly?
  4. Am I a person that society can trust?


  1. Do I exercise the leadership in my family that inspires and helps family members to become good global citizens?
  2. Do I set the example?
  3. Am I a food citizen within my own family as well as in the world?
  4. Do I align family structures and systems in a way that supports citizenship in the family and the world?
  5. Am I teaching my children global citizenship?


  1. Is our organization credible?
  2. Do we have integrity, and do we model that behavior?
  3. Do we demonstrate Intent to do good?
  4. Do we have the Capabilities to make a difference?
  5. Do we produce Results for shareholders and stakeholders?
  6. Do we give to society an organization they can trust?
  7. Does my leadership inspire others to become global citizens?
  8. Do we promote citizenship within the organization and also in the world?

For sure, Servant leaders realize that from the first wave (self-trust) trust to the fifth wave (societal trust), trust flows outward in our relationships, in our organizations, and into the greater world community.

There are 4 essential themes that emerge from Covey’s book. Servant leaders are smart when they decide to incorporate them into daily living.

A Summary

  1. The 4 Cores and 13 Behaviors are the tools that will create and restore trust on every level (the 5 waves of trust).
  2. The main principles of Organizational Trust are alignment. That is, making sure that systemic structures and processes within the organizations align with the 4 Cores and 13 Behaviors. This builds trust with the internal stakeholders.
  3. The main principles of establishing Market Trust is reputation or brand. The 4 Cores and 13 Behaviors inspire trust with external stakeholders to the extent that they will invest, recommend, and/or buy your products and services.
  4. The main principles of establishing Societal Trust is contribution. This principle is about the intent to give back and to become responsible global citizens.

These concepts are easy to digest intellectually. However, they are a little more challenging in real world situations. Servant Leaders must look for ways to apply these concepts on an experiential level and to teach them at work and at home.

Not only will Servant leaders better understand and realize the power of the 4 Cores and 13 Behaviors, but we will be amazed at the results when you operate at the speed of trust.

To Global Citizenship,

Dr. Crystal