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Human Touch – The Extra Mile

A quick google of the phrase, ‘extra mile’ brings all sorts of things up, including alternatives to motorway service stations, electric bikes, and sports agencies. Of course, the idiom’s meaning is about ‘doing more than expected’. The origin of the phrase comes from the Bible, when Jesus told his followers that if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. It is widely accepted that this phrase is all about doing more than is asked of you, making a difference to others. *

So, as we explore this month’s topic of the ‘human touch’ and how it can make a difference to leadership, how does ‘going the extra mile’ help? Is there a risk that the leader becomes weaker if people take advantage? What is the impact of going the extra mile? In this blog we will see that going the extra mile as a leader will:

· Surprise

· Value

· Engage

· Model

Surprise them

Jenny was a lovely member of the team. She was committed and friendly. One day she trudged back into my office at the end of the day, looking slightly fed up. “Do you know anyone that could help me with jump leads. My car won’t start.” It wasn’t what she expected when I said, “Yes. I have some. Let’s go and get your car started.” Despite her protests that I was the headteacher and had more important things to do, she went with me and we got the car started. It was likely that the battery was past its shelf life and so, whilst it was ticking over, I showed her the website where she could get a new one at a good price and told her that the site manager or myself would help fit it for her. She was surprised, as it was not what she expected of her boss. That surprise turns to trust the more you go the extra mile for them. And in turn, they go the extra mile for you.

Values them

L’Oreal’s catch phrase, as most are familiar with, is ‘because you’re worth it’. The company is telling the consumer they are worth their products. When we go the extra mile as a person and a leader, we are saying to those around us that they are worth it. Take Jenny’s request for jump leads. The norm would be to point in the direction of someone else or offer the phone for recovery services. But stepping into the situation yourself shows them that you value them, saying “You are worth my time.” In turn, they say you are worth my time, too.

Engages them

I’m of the opinion that when someone feels valued and knows their purpose, they will passionately engage themselves in the work or task. Because going the extra mile for them brings value, there is a natural response to want to give value back or contribute forward. And in turn, as you engaged with them, they will engage with you.

Models to them

Culture in an organisation starts with the leader. So, when we go the extra mile, we are modelling to others that this is what we do here. They, in turn, will follow that example. Jenny may not help someone with jump leads, but she will give time and get personally involved when others need support. This is partly because it is her nature and partly because the leader has modelled what is expected – she will model to others what has been modelled to her.

Try going the extra mile next week. See if you spot the impact it can have on your team.

· * Footnote: Some scholars think that the original saying was perhaps cleverer than that, as it put the Roman occupier under pressure given that they were allowed to make people do things for them but weren’t allowed to make them ill or die from it.


Can we help you?

What is your team culture like? Do you want help to shape the culture and involve others? We can help you develop it. We have some coaching techniques that will really help you understand the situation and the people involved. Give us a call on 01449 710438 if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you.

Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you. If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, training or consultancy, do let us know. Contact us now:


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