The Dance of Leadership: Empathy, Safety, and Change
May 10, 2024

A Conversation with Brian Mattocks, COO Podcast Chef

Leadership is often described as a journey or a dance – a fluid, dynamic process that requires a balance of strength and sensitivity, especially in the realms of small businesses and non-profit organizations.

In a recent episode of the Entrusted to Lead podcast, Danita Cummins and Brian Maddox discuss the intricacies of leadership and the skills necessary to navigate through the constant flux of challenges and changes.

Here’s a summary of the highlights:

(03:14 – 05:00) Corporate Background and Entrepreneurial Transition (106 Seconds)

(07:39 – 09:05) Starting a Nonprofit From Scratch (85 Seconds)

(10:35 – 12:08) Leadership in Nonprofits and Organizations (93 Seconds)  

(14:37 – 15:34) Navigating Vision and Implementation Challenges (57 Seconds)

(22:44 – 24:09) Managing Fear of Uncertainty in Business (84 Seconds)  

(27:10 – 27:51) Embracing Self-Discovery and Teaching (41 Seconds)

Embracing Empathy in Leadership:

The role of empathy in leadership cannot be overstated. Leaders who cultivate empathy are better equipped to understand the needs and motivations of their team members. Cummins and Maddox delve into how empathy allows leaders to connect with their team on a deeper level, creating an environment where individuals feel valued and understood. This, in turn, fosters loyalty and commitment which is crucial for any team’s success. Small business or non-profits experience the greatest impact. Resources may be limited, and every team member’s contribution is vital.

The Imperative of Psychological Safety:

Another key theme explored in the podcast is psychological safety. The ability of a leader to create a space where team members feel safe to take risks, voice their opinions, and be themselves is crucial. Psychological safety leads to more innovative and creative solutions. individuals are not hindered by the fear of judgment or failure. Maddox, with his corporate and entrepreneurial experience, shares insights into creating such an environment, emphasizing the importance of mistake tolerance and reframing the concept of failure as part of the learning process.

Navigating Organizational Change:

Change is the only constant, and leaders must be adept at steering their organizations through it. The podcast episode sheds light on how leaders can maintain focus and keep their teams grounded amidst uncertainties. Cummins shares a personal anecdote of a family project that illustrates the importance of the process over the outcome. It’s about the engagement, the shared experiences, and the collective journey towards achieving goals.

Cultural Shifts and Leadership:

As the conversation progresses, Cummins and Maddox discuss the shifting values observed in younger generations. There’s a growing emphasis on quality, transparency, and justice, and these values are becoming increasingly integral within the leadership realm. Leaders must be cognizant of these cultural shifts and strive to adapt to remain effective and relevant.

Continuous Learning and Growth:

In addition, leadership is about personal growth and continuous learning. Leaders should embrace new challenges and encourage their teams to do the same. This fosters an environment of perpetual growth and development.


This podcast episode is a treasure trove of wisdom for anyone looking to improve their leadership skills. Whether you’re leading a small business, a non-profit team, or just seeking personal development, the insights from Cummins and Maddox offer valuable guidance.

Remember, leadership is not just about the destination. It is about the rich tapestry of the journey and the people you inspire along the way. For more thought-provoking discussions on leadership, subscribe to the podcast, rate, and review this episode! Never miss an opportunity to be part of a community of leaders who are continuously learning and growing together.

About the Author: Danita Cummins is a business and leadership consultant, podcast host, and advocate for emotional intelligence in leadership. With years of experience in coaching and mentorship, she brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to help individuals and organizations thrive. When she’s not writing or coaching, you’ll find her serving at the Alpha Life Pregnancy Center, sipping coffee or singing loudly to her favorite 80’s band.

Follow Danita on IG @danita_cummins or LinkedIn for more leadership insights and coaching tips.