Name: Melinda Morella-Olson
Business Title: Director of Strategic Engagement
Favorite Musician: Zac Brown Band
Favorite Vacation: Italy or Nicaragua
Favorite Restaurant: The Cannery; SAP if it's brunch!
EMPLOY HUMANITY: What is in the DNA of a servant leader?
MELINDA MORELLA-OLSON: I think empathy is such an important trait of a servant leader. Because you can’t be empathetic without some other very key traits – self-awareness and the ability to truly listen. Servant leaders lean into hard conversations and give employees what they need (what is best for them). In the DNA of a servant leader is a deep need to help others grow and develop, even if this means out-growing their current role or even the organization.
EMPLOY HUMANITY: What has been the most important factor(s) in your leadership development journey?
MELINDA MORELLA-OLSON: One of the most important factors in my leadership development journey was the opportunity to learn how to be a good coach when I was working as an instructional coach in a local school district. In this role, I learned how to be curious, collaboratively problem-solve, and have crucial conversations. These are skills I continue to use in my current career, community, and daily life. Another important factor in my leadership journey is the influence of authors whom I admire greatly. Personal development books by Brené Brown, Simon Sinek, Mel Robbins and many others have shaped my beliefs about my own leadership.
EMPLOY HUMANITY: How does Emotional Intelligence, the awareness and management of your own emotions and the emotions of others, play a role in your leadership?
MELINDA MORELLA-OLSON: Emotional Intelligence and the awareness and management of my own emotions and the emotions of others plays an integral role in my leadership. Leaders who are emotionally intelligent foster emotionally safe environments, and there’s been extensive research into the benefits of emotional safety at work. Feeling emotionally safe means employees feel comfortable speaking up and communicating openly. They aren’t held back by the fear that by voicing their views, they’re making themselves vulnerable to criticism. Diversity of thought and employees being willing to speak up and take risks is key to a thriving business. Additionally, when a leader is emotionally intelligent, they can use emotions appropriately to drive the organization forward. Leaders often have the responsibility of effecting necessary changes in the organization, and if they are aware of others’ possible emotional reactions to these changes they are able to plan and prepare the most optimal ways to make them. Furthermore, emotionally intelligent leaders don’t take things personally and are able to forge ahead with plans without worrying about the impact on their egos.
"When a leader is emotionally intelligent, they can use emotions appropriately
to drive the organization forward."
EMPLOY HUMANITY: Who has made the most positive impact on your life and what is this individual’s attributes?
MELINDA MORELLA-OLSON: I have a hard time pinpointing one individual; but rather, it’s a collection of individuals and their attributes who have make the most positive impact on my life.
My mother taught me kindness and loyalty. She showed me how to be there for others. And how to bake.
My father taught me grit and the value of working hard to achieve my goals.
My dear friend, Jen, taught me how to use my gifts in ways I didn’t even know were possible and opened my eyes to the bigger picture of what it means to serve my community.
Travel has taught me critical thinking and problem solving that applies to all areas of my life