Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, is increasingly recognized as a pivotal leadership trait. In an ever-evolving business landscape, leaders who exhibit genuine empathy are better equipped to connect, inspire, and drive their teams toward success. But how exactly does empathy shape leadership dynamics? How can it be harnessed to foster stronger relationships, improved decision-making, and a more inclusive work environment? As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Angela Butts Chester.
Dr. Angela Butts Chester is a Pastoral Counselor in private practice, an author, a cancer survivor, and host of the talk radio show Daily Spark with Dr. Angela and its award-winning sister show, Daily Spark TV. As Editor-in-Chief of PASSIONAIRE Magazine, this bi-monthly magazine features articles on lifestyle + passion for purpose. Dr. Angela also provides a weekly podcast for women in leadership to have a positive space on PASSIONAIRE Magazine The Podcast. Dr. Chester has also served as an Associate Pastor and has built a reputation as a thought leader on issues related to Spiritual Wellness (motivation) and Women’s Empowerment as an international motivational speaker.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion about empathy, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
When I was a teenager, I had a conversation with my Pastor. I explained how I loved helping others, and that I wanted to be able to share my faith by preaching/teaching others the word. After a discussion, he suggested Pastoral Counseling. That Pastor was Dr. Brian Blount, and his advice was golden. He went on to be the President of Union Presbyterian Seminary, and I did as he suggested. All these years later, I am still excited every day that I get to help others; nothing could be better.
The media aspects are answers to later prayers. Radio came first, followed one year later by television. The magazine and podcast are the cherry on top. By providing a platform for others to express themselves, I get to meet amazing people, while sharing their stories of inspiration and hope.
As a speaker and author, I share on Women’s empowerment. Reminding women to walk in the purpose and shine the light they have been given. Each person has been given a talent to share with the world. Some talents are big or loud, others are smaller or soft. No matter what portion you have been given, I believe we have been tasked to share it with the world.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I was the keynote speaker at a Women’s Luncheon. A young lady came up to me and said she really enjoyed my speech and she too, hoped to work with women and children. I asked if she was able to get on the MEDS or PACE track (high school) and she confirmed she was a PACE student. I asked about college, and she listed her top 5; all great choices. I then asked if I could pray with her about the awesome and amazing future that she would be walking into. We prayed. She then asked if she could take a picture with me, and I agreed.
I later found out she was with a group of young ladies who had been sponsored by a local community group to attend. I may have touched that young lady’s heart, but she touched mine as well. I hope she has become all that she dreamed of.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What sets us apart and makes us different is our unwavering commitment to a holistic approach that places the well-being of individuals at the core of everything we do. I approach my work with a perspective rooted in faith and a deep care for the person, and this philosophy influences every aspect of what I do.
Here are some key elements that I believe make us stand out:
Holistic Approach: I take a holistic view of well-being, recognizing that it’s not just about physical health but also includes emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Our programs and services address all these aspects to help individuals achieve balance and fulfillment in their lives.
Faith-Based Values: Guided by faith-based values that emphasize compassion, empathy, and a commitment to serving others.
Individual Care: I genuinely care about people. So, this means I take the time to understand each individual’s unique needs, challenges, and aspirations, and we provide support tailored to their specific circumstances.
Community and Connection: We foster a sense of community within our organization, where individuals feel a sense of belonging and support. This community extends to our customers and partners, creating a network of individuals who share our values.
Long-Term Impact: Our focus is not solely on short-term gains but on making a lasting and positive impact on the lives of the people we touch. We measure our success by the improvements in well-being and the sense of purpose that individuals experience.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Certainly! I believe that several character traits have been instrumental to my success. While it’s challenging to narrow it down to just three, here are the three I consider most vital.
1. Resilience: Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and adapt to challenging situations. It’s a crucial trait for leaders because they often face high-pressure scenarios and must persevere through adversity.
Early in my career, I faced a significant business downturn due to a breast cancer diagnosis. I worked as long as I was able, but unfortunately, I decided to close temporarily to focus on my journey to wellness. Despite the outlook of having to start over again, I remained resilient, focused on finding solutions, and maintained my determination to turn the situation around once I was better. I restructured, made tough decisions, and put in place a strategic plan that eventually led to a remarkable recovery. This experience reinforced the importance of resilience in leadership, showing that even in the face of adversity. You can return to former success with the right mindset and strategies.
2. Adaptability: In a rapidly changing business environment, adaptability is a key trait. Successful leaders must be willing to embrace change, pivot when necessary, and lead their organizations through transformations and disruptions.
One of the most significant changes I faced was the shift to digital technology. I recognized the need to adapt our traditional business model to thrive in this new landscape. We invested in technology, retrained the traditional aspects that were appropriate, and expanded our digital presence. This adaptability allowed us not only to survive during the pandemic but also in a changing market and space. The ability to pivot and adapt to new trends and technologies has been critical to our long-term success.
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