Ahron Oddman – Empathy, the Heart of Servant Leadership

Ahron Oddman is currently a Harvard Business School Candidate. He flew as a Strike Fighter Pilot flying for the US Navy and spent time as a fighter pilot instructor for the Navy, training a new generation of American fighter pilots.

Directly from Ahron:

Ahron describes his major influences growing up as his parents and grandparents who made it a point to lead by example. His grandparents demonstrated a dedication to selfless service by adopting children prior to immigrating to the United States from Jamaica. In Ahron’s words it was just what they did.

Empathy for others was ever present through the actions of his grandparents and parents. Ahron described himself as having access to this empathy that was modeled for him in his youth. While access was important for him, it was something he has cultivated over time.

Ahron’s experience as a Marine Corps Officer, reminds us of the need to support those who work with and for you. That everyone brings their totality of their experiences and challenges into work. As leaders we need to keep in mind the varying needs of those we serve.

Some of Ahron’s favorite leaders genuinely cared for him and those around him. They took the time to learn about Ahron’s life outside of the workplace, and made it clear that they were very interested in his experiences and desires.

Ahron discussed his current boss who makes it a point to “deflecting credit publicly”. He is quick to recognize successes and the steps that people take to have those successes.

Being a servant leader is at the heart of Ahron’s leadership philosophy.

Ahron described having worked alongside a toxic leader, who he explained would lead through fear. Ahron continued that he believed these toxic behaviors came from a place of personal fear as well. Ahron had the opportunity to see this leader own his personal difficulty as being a toxic leader. Over time he saw massive change in his ability to relate to others and lead with dignity.

Ahron and Adam discussed the challenges of an over hierarchical organization where feedback typically only flows down. Had there been practices that allow for feedback upwards, it might have helped to mitigate the toxic behaviors that this leader demonstrated.

You can find Ahron at his linkedin account below.


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