Few weeks to the April 2015 earthquake, as aids and
help started to flock in back in 2015, I was already exasperated briefing to
the self labelled relief teams who had rather a touristic approach, engrossed
on taking selfies and making videos of a hospital in turned in to rubbles in
rural Nepal. When I heard of the arrival of this new team again, at first, I
had thought of nothing different. With the skeptical mindset, that’s when I
first met Dr. Rebecca Hage Thomley and her team Headwaters Relief as they
waited for me in my office in a make shift tent amidst the pile of medical
supplies which had just been air dropped in the morning. Who knew, that meet
would change my perception towards relief works, motivate me to get involved in
relief works and suffice me to contribute globally.
Dr. Thomley leads the Headwaters Relief Organization
which is a relief collaboration of volunteers that supports the emotional and
housing needs of families and communities ravaged by disaster and provides
psychosocial aid for the often-ignored health workers working in those
situations. She is also the President and
Chief Executive Officer of Orion Associates, Meridian Services, Zenith
Services, Orion Intermediary Services and their related company Morning Sun
Financial Services. She has a rich academic background to support her
managerial skills and leadership position with degrees in clinical psychology,
criminal justice, psychopharmacology and organizational management.
below are few notes taken during my conversation with her regarding her work,
managerial traits and leadership skills.
have witnessed you work on the field on various disaster relief missions and I
know you lead almost four thousand employees through all your organizations,
what do you think is your strongest characteristics as a leader is or what is
unique in you?
Not only at those relief missions or at organizational work you
mentioned about, I believe in a “servant leadership approach” in every aspect
of life. The noble leadership should be beyond traditional autocratic and top
to bottom hierarchical models, it should be based on equity and seek to involve
everyone in decision making.
At the Headwaters and in my family, I constantly remind everyone
about their equivalent voice and share of responsibility. Our company has
always followed the principle of equity in contribution and hence in pay, all
the staffs regardless of their position in the company, receive equal amount salary
and benefits. This characteristic makes our organization unique and further
enhances the growth of workers as well as improves the quality of our organization.
much did you plan to get to your current position? Can you please mention on
how you reached here?
had a good psychological clinical practice running in New Orleans and had never
planned on doing what I am doing today. It was my mother who first started the
Meridian, a social service agency that is now part of the Orion companies and later
run by my father, and when he passed away in 2000, it fell to me to take the
clearly, I had no intentions on running the company, but when I had to do it, I
went back to the very beginning, and took three company officers along with me
and back to the school for courses in organizational management at the
Concordia university. It was there where we developed our style of leadership
that included a focus on serving the community. Having everyone go through the
same program put us all on the same page and thought processing. Personally, I
was able to learn about organizational traits, financial resources and
management which I was completely unaware of.
Any final words of advice to the new generation of
Focus on enhancement – Always try to be a more than
an employer; it’s about enhancing the life circumstances of the employees. Focus
on enhancement, rather than just management.
Team Approach – Create a unified platform for the
company. Through leadership try to bring in the same sense of focus.
The Right Thing- Always ask: “What’s the best thing
to do for the staff and the community?” This model of leadership might seem
harsh for the interest of the organization, but remember, your organization can
only prosper if your employees are happy.