Being Other Focused

Kevin Eikenberry

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In the Wall Street Journal, Franklin Lavin, U. S. Ambassabor to Singapore wrote the Manager's Journal column about some of the things he learned from the late President Reagan while working on his staff.

******** PLEASE NOTE ************

If you are thinking about moving on from this article because of your feelings about the politics of President Reagan, please don't. The lesson I am about to share isn't about politics or partisan-ship, or any of those things.


It is about caring.

About being focused on others.

It is a lesson for all leaders.

Lavin shares a story about an appearance the President was making at an Alabama school for handicapped children. The event was going super well, until one of the children with a severe speech impediment asked a question of the President. No one in the audience could understand and the room became tense. The President asked him to repeat the question, and the energy in the room was further dampened. Again, no one understood.

Here is how Lavin tells what happened next, “The teachers froze. What was to have been an upbeat day was turning into a disaster. . . Reagan to the rescue. ‘I'm sorry’ he said with a smile, ‘but you know I've got this hearing aid in my ear. Every once in awhile the darn thing just conks out on me. And it's just gone dead. Sorry to put you through this again, but I'm going to ask one of my staff people to go over to you so you can tell them directly what your question is. Then he can pass it back to me. '"

This is what caring, gentle people do. This is what leaders do. If they see someone hurting, they try to help. They don't help to “get through it" or get people back to work. They help, and care, and listen because it is the right thing to do. They show they care through their actions.

If you are like me, as you read this you thought, “How would I have handled that?" and “Would I have been as successful as President Reagan?" They are good questions.

The better question though is, what can I do today to be more focused on others, and therefore help them succeed?

Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group ( ), a learning consulting company. To receive a free Special Report on leadership that includes resources, ideas, and advice go to or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888. LEARNER.


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