The Leadership Blueprint

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Focus on the Collective

Everybody Paddles is a comprehensive blueprint that can help take any team to the next level of organizational development. Whether addressing the CEO of a global company, the Dean of a university or the head of a nonprofit, Everybody Paddles provides the personal insight and guidelines all leaders need to strategically align and unify their teams. This book, authored by Charles A. Archer, is a leader’s blueprint for creating a unified team. 

I was fortunate to catch up with Charles A. Archer and ask the intricate questions that most business people want to understand about leadership, teamwork and prosperity as well as, what it takes to successfully build an organization. The tips and suggestions that Archer provides are sure to help you accomplish the organizational goals that you set out to achieve. 

OR: What does the Everybody Paddles Movement mean to you? And where did this concept come from?

CA: Everybody Paddles represents a pattern of growth, development and improvement that occurs when all participants work together for a common interest.  The EP concept comes from whitewater rafting and the need for unison throughout calm, raging and still waters towards the end of the river (destination).

The Everybody Paddles concept is applicable in both for – profit and non – profit sectors.  All leaders desire followers who believe in the mission and vision of the business, collaborate on the business objectives and feel valued and appreciated daily.  Each reader will find something for them whether they are a part of the C – Suite, new entrepreneur or small business owner.  Everybody Paddles Everywhere!

OR: What moment in your life was the catalyst of this mentality?

CA: In 2007, when I became the CEO of The THRIVE Network my life changed.  There is one thing to aspire to leadership and another to sit at the desk of influence.  After 10 years, I still remember and recall the challenges of the first year.  Being called to the post by the Board of Directors and following a beloved Executive, the transition of organizational vision became dependent on a clear understanding of roles, responsibility, direction, participation, collaboration and partnership. The Everybody Paddles concept developed from a place of necessity. It is this necessity of unison that drives me to understand purpose, communication, course correction and every crew member matters. I am only as impactful or influential in leading as to those that decide to follow.





OR: You talk about your 6 key Everybody Paddles principles in the book. What are those?

CA: The Everybody Paddles principles provide an outline for successfully building company consensus and developing effective behavioral dynamics within an organization. The principles are:

One: Unity Stabilizes the Boat

Every business, whether for – profit or non – profit, relies on the cooperation between its members.

Two: Purpose Provides Propulsion

When leaders provide the opportunity for the business mission and vision to be integrated into the team culture, everyone will pick up an oar and begin to paddle in unison.

Three: The Capitan Sets the Course, the Whole Crew Paddles

We all live alongside other individuals and within groups, and there is an art to navigating our way so that we promote and don’t stifle one another. While we all cannot claim ourselves as self-proclaimed leaders, those that are called upon to this position must motivate, inspire, listen, encourage and remain loyal to their followers.

Four: Communicate Clearly to Stay on Course

Leaders must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of relevance, urgency and enthusiasm to others.

Five: Problem Solving, Course Correction

Teamwork is the ability to work together towards a common vision; the ability to direct individual accomplishments towards organizational objectives.

Six: Every Crew Member Matters

In every business, there are invariably a few people who contribute to the greater sum of the organization and others who don’t seem to fit or even want to.  However, leaders must understand that each follower is interconnected and deserves the opportunity to be heard, grow, develop and advance.  

OR: Can you provide an example of a technique that you use for solving interpersonal issues within an organization while repairing non-productive, dysfunctional patterns?

CA: Once employees see that a leader is serious about making improvements and that positive changes are being made, the following steps are more achievable in dealing with any issue or dysfunction:

  • Create A Vision
  • Define Roles and Responsibilities
  • Set Long and Short Term Goals
  • Communicate Vision, Expectation and Goals
  • Set a Schedule & Stick to that Schedule
  • Seek Input, Accept Criticism & Encourage Advice
  • Don’t Expect Immediate Results; Change Takes Time
  • Recognize Progress & Others
  • Be Flexible & Delegate

OR: What skills do you use in helping a team increase values, services, experience, engagement and feedback?

CA: Success comes by recognizing when one approach isn’t working and in consequence, we have the freedom and flexibility to try alternative measures. I believe in a three-prong approach:

Directing: A leader cannot abdicate his or her role, but must give followers enough detail to be productive and sufficient space to not micromanage.

Discussing: One person or individual, including the leader, should not dominate internal discussions. A democratic process allows everyone to feel free to provide input and the opportunity to do so. It all starts with the question, “What do You Think?”

Delegating: Delegation leads to recognition, therefore, individuals will feel that they’re part of the process, learning and constantly improving. In view of this, make sure you invite them to the table.

OR: How do you set up optimal metrics and enable teams to translate operational outcomes into business solutions?

CA: Optimal metrics translate into operational outcomes through your business process. Each of these cooperative activities must be developed, monitored and maintained through this process, in which businesses meet their central goals and objectives. Every process must have five factors: an objective, a function, integrity, transparency and compliance. 

OR: What are issues that you have seen first-hand that have had a negative effect on unity in the workplace?

CA: Any workplace that has individuals who are unwilling to perform their role and responsibility with the highest level of integrity, will affect the team morale and unity. Team members often begin to resent each other, under perform and the business culture will directly and indirectly impact internal and external partnerships.  You owe it to your clients, team and yourself to free people up for new opportunity when they do not add value with your business.

OR: For new organizations, what should leaders first focus on to making sure that teams start out strong on the correct course?

CA: New organizational leaders should develop a blueprint with strategies that have been proven to modify attitudes, capabilities and efforts that acknowledge everybody within the business; all must actively participate in the advancement of the mission, vision, value structure and deliverables.

OR: When the leader or captain of a team is the one who has veered off course, how can he/she work to veer the crew back on the right path?

CA: Decisions.  We all make decisions in life and the ones that veer us off course are those unfollowed decisions we make to ourselves.  Each person must decide to lead and build a follower base then actively pursue the success of the outcome. There isn’t a right or wrong path, but one that has been designated for you.  It’s up to each leader and follower to find their path and accept the paths that veer from one direction to another…all leading you on your journey. 

OR: Can you provide an example of how your business ideology and leadership initiative has helped an organization problem solve interpersonal issues and/ or remedy non-productive dysfunctional patterns?

CA: Throughout every business, there are individuals who believe they have better options and solutions, even operate under the assumption that they can do another person’s job better.  In some cases, this may or may not be an accurate assumption.  However, I have remedied several situations and patterns by implementing the following tactics:

  • Every employee gets a clear definition of his or her job requirement.
  • Each employee knows precisely what he or she is accountable for.
  • Adopt an open – door / open – discussion policy.
  • Address employee concerns: each person is naturally concerned first and foremost about his or herself.
  • Reduce Stress for one’s self and others.

OR: Leadership is the ability to empower others and to be able to translate one’s vision into a reality. Based on your experience, what does leadership mean to you?

CA: Leadership is about Followership. Without a group of dedicated, committed and loyal supporters, leaders cannot influence or impact the lives of others. Leadership is an opportunity to celebrate the collective efforts of others (removing self).

OR: What is the significance behind, “When Everybody Paddles, at the Same Time, in the Same Direction, towards the Same Goal, We All Win?”

CA: Monthly, I meet with new THRIVE employees during orientation. During this meeting, it’s explained to them that at this organization, everybody matters in everything.  The delivery of services and success of our organization is dependent upon everybody’s overall contributions to the collective.  As the Founder and CEO, my role is important, but that relevance does not diminish the efforts of Direct Support Professionals, Service Coordinators or any other program / administrative staff.  This is because we win together!

OR: How do you help others THRIVE, specifically, attract, grow and develop talent?

CA: At The THRIVE Network, we seek to enhance the lives of people by offering programs, support and services to individuals so they can reach their potential and live with dignity, respect and independence.

OR: Any other book ideas or speaking opportunities on the horizon?

CA: After writing the Everybody Paddles book series, I have completed a fictional piece of work, which is currently being pitched and targeted for a 2017 release date.  With the success of my 2015 TEDx Talk, “The Friendship Clause,” I am in discussion with other TED Talk organizers in California, Florida and New York, as well as Canada and Italy. As we approach another year, I look forward to sharing the vision of a society where everybody matters regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity or political affiliation.

OR:  Thank you Charles for taking the time to share your expertise and vision with me.

CA: My pleasure!

To purchase your copy of Everybody Paddles, you can find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Hudson News.






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