Wisdom Sought – In Search Of Great Leadership

How do you become a great leader? If you’re like most, you probably read a lot of books, listen to podcasts, and attend a few conferences. But one of the best ways to grow is to learn from the actual “wisdom of experience” of other leaders. Which is why we’ve compiled the following ten questions – each being answered by the many business leaders who have unselfishly stepped up to “pay it forward” – freely sharing their first-hand career experience. If you’re an experienced leader, please join our  “pay it forward” movement by sharing your response to each Question below:

    1. Did anyone have a tremendous impact on your leadership journey and if so, how?
    2. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of an organization?
    3. How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility?
    4. How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?
    5. When faced with two equally qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
    6. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
    7. What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
    8. What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
    9. What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
    10. How do you define leadership success?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please number your Answers below to match the sequence of Questions above! Responses will be extracted into a follow-up Article to be published next month!

Dennis J. Pitocco
Dennis J. Pitoccohttps://www.bizcatalyst360.com/
Dennis is the Founder, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of our award-winning life, culture, and biz new media digest, With an emphasis on action, our amazing writers empower people to transcend from knowing what to do to actually doing it. Today and every day, we simply deliver the very best insights, intelligence, and inspiration available anywhere, doing it our way by placing our writers and our audience at the forefront. It's magical. It's evergreen. And quite frankly, It's just good stuff. Period. Here's more About Us. He is also Founder & Chief Encouragement Officer of GoodWorks 360°, our affiliated global nonprofit social impact enterprise, dedicated to providing mission-critical pro bono services to good nonprofits worldwide. Connect with him on Linkedin to learn more about his background. Dennis is a contributing author to the Best-Selling Book Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational Change.

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  1. 1. One of my earliest bosses was a terrific woman who seemed never afraid to speak up for what she knew to be right and always held us to the highest standard of performance, even when “good enough” would have been OK.
    2. Long term sustainability — it requires thinking both about today’s issues as well as what will come in the future. I owe it to my co-workers to be thinking both short- and long-term at the same time.
    3. Truly give them ownership — with the risks and rewards associated with it. Don’t undermine them by pretending to give them accountability but then helicoptering in to “save” them if they start to falter.
    4. An organization’s culture is how it lives, not what the posters on the wall say. That means that employees will learn the REAL organizational culture by the way they see managers and employees acting rather than by what they’re saying.
    5. If by “qualifications” we mean equal in terms of education, type and length of experience and other seemingly “objective” measures than choose the one that will provide diversity of thought. It’s tempting to say that we want to “hire for cultural fit” but that risks hiring people in our own image. Instead, hire the one that will shake up your thinking.
    6. Fortitude, which I define through words like patience, persistence, tolerance and stamina. Leadership is not a sprint.
    7. How to balance the short-term needs (funding, stock price, revenue) with the long-term ones (sustainability, impact, legacy). This is particularly true for US public companies where the demand for quarterly results tends to push away all other thoughts.
    8. Inflexibility. Business is too complex for one person to be the expert in all things and too fast-pace for that expertise to not need constant updating. Don’t get stuck in a single point of view but, rather, seek counsel from a variety of smart people.
    9. Be kind to yourself. You don’t need to know all the answers. Find someone to talk to and be willing to learn.
    10. By the seeds you plant — some of which you never know of — in the future leaders you work with.

  2. 1. My father had a huge impact, showing me the importance of humility, care for others, and a commitment to excellence. My Mom also impacted me, in that she shared her love for Jesus with me, who has become my ultimate model of leadership for me. 2. Who to hire. Building a dream team is so important. Bring people on board who are in alignment with the organization’s values and culture. 3. Be clear on their boundaries and then encourage them for the great work they are doing. Emphasize how important it is to the company for them to bring their creativity and innovation to work everyday. 4. The best way is to model the way everyday. But don’t leave that to chance. Be very clear from their first day on the job what the expected values and behaviors of all employees are. Share stories with them on how people have played out the values in their work. 5. Who is most aligned with the organization’s purpose and values. 6. Humility 7. Staying focused on the most important aspect of their job – People. A leader should spend the majority of their time on building and developing people and the culture of the organization. 8. Thinking that their job is to provide answers. It is not. Their job is to build leaders. You do this by staying curious, asking questions, and allowing people to develop. 9. Be patient. Know that becoming a great servant leader is a journey. Continue to work and develop your skills and seek out help and mentors to aid your journey and development. 10. Helping people to achieve their God-given talent and dreams.

  3. 1. Did anyone have a tremendous impact on your leadership journey and if so, how?

    An old respected boss always told me “make it the best you can at all times”. Seems simple enough but too few follow this advice. Customers will notice and appreciate your efforts to provide the best products and services.

    2. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of an organization?

    We must understand that a good leader brings out the best in others so they may one day be a leader too. Each of us possesses skills that, if allowed to be used, will benefit all. The difficult part is recognizing the specific methods that work best when motivating others.

    3. How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility?

    I train my employees to “put yourself in the customer’s shoes”. If we wouldn’t be happy with the product or service we provide, how can we expect others to be happy with it? We are aware of our shortcomings and still “sell our product”. But, if the customer knew about it, would they?

    4. How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?

    I believe that, regardless of what we teach/share during the orientation process and initial training, an employee will learn the “true” culture of an organization from their coworkers.

    The culture is often masked behind a series of statements, posters and platitudes that may not reflect the actual culture or mindset of employees. We must first create a foundation of excellence with existing employees so that all future employees will join a successful team.

    5. When faced with two equally qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?

    I look for passion. The candidate that can properly explain why they like their job and the feeling they get when they see others succeed will always get my vote. No matter what business you are in you are always in the “people business”. Those with passion AND compassion will usually do the best.

    6. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
    Humility. A leader doesn’t know it all, even if he/she thinks they do.

    7. What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

    Ego. Too many leaders believe their own hype and think leadership comes from the position/rank. Leadership comes from the ability to motivate others and carry on the same level of professionalism and quality when the leader is not present.

    8. What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?

    Forgetting that the customer is king. We wish to lead so we may earn a bigger paycheck or have more power and prestige within an organization. With leadership comes a certain removal from the day-to-day machinations of the business.

    Spending too much time focusing on budgets, payroll or market share, when the focus must continually be on the customer, is the surest way to failure.

    9. What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

    Be humble, support and ask questions of your team and realize that you are only as good as those around you. Treat your employees with the respect they deserve and you will be well rewarded.

    10. How do you define leadership success?
    When you develop other leaders who can take your place and carry on the great work you started.

  4. I’m going to attempt to answer many of these important questions with a few comments. If you keep your eyes open all the time and everywhere, there are business lessons all around us. I learned many of mine while slinging hash at the Mom’s coffee shop at age 13. Treat all of your employees equally, no matter their tasks. For me, my employees are my client and our customers are their clients. I believe that culture is what an employee “feels.” When making new hires, be sure they are feeling your culture. If I find myself in a dead-heat between two potential candidates, I look at their soft skills. Hards skills are for vetting, but soft skill are what we hire. The biggest challenge leaders face is to remember common sense and not get caught up in business theory.

  5. Comments relayed from Mark Cohen, BC360° Columnist:

    1 Did anyone have a tremendous impact on your leadership journey and if so, how?
 Many people affected me—both positively and negatively. You learn from both—those who are good leaders and those who have the title but not the attributes of leadership. Coaches, superiors, business colleagues, and students—among others—have influenced me in these ways.
    2 What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of an organization? Informed ones.
    3 How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility? By letting them know that if they undertake a task, they must complete it—whether they get it right or not—and to do their best.
    4 How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization? Read the mission statement and confirm with colleagues that it is practiced.
    5 When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire? Gut instinct that is often based on intangibles like demonstrated excellence and commitment to something, even if it is unrelated to the job description.
    6 What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? Integrity and the ability to acknowledge mistakes.
    7 What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today? The pervasive insecurity caused by a world that, for many, is one they no longer understand, control, or feel secure in.
    8 What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others? Not appreciating the breathtaking compression of decision time and the acceleration of change.
    9 What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time? Seek counsel from someone who has been there as well as someone who will be there.
    10 How do you define leadership success?
 Two ways: (1) did you accomplish the objective? ; (2) if so/if not, what did you learn that can be applied going forward?

  6. Did anyone have a tremendous impact on your leadership journey and if so, how? There have been many people that have had a tremendous impact on my leadership journey. Those that have taught me through their example in both a positive and negative way. Everyone is our teacher…it is our job to learn from every person, every situation, and strive to be the best we can be.

    What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of an organization? To lead by example. People trust us and follow us because of our actions, not our words. It’s vital to live our lives with ethics and integrity and to demonstrate this through our actions.

    How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility? By believing in their capabilities and giving them space and the expectation to make powerful bold decisions.

    How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization? We create our culture through our beliefs and our actions. Set the example and keep the bar high.

    When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire? Always go with your heart…it is there to guide us.

    What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? A positive, solution-oriented mindset.

    What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today? A lack of leadership training.

    What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others? Managing instead of leading and letting ego get in the way.

    What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time? Leave your ego at the door, continue to learn and grow yourself and never lose touch with what is happening in the trenches.

    How do you define leadership success? When you bring out the best in others and help them live into their own greatness.

  7. Response relayed from Bharat Mathur:

    1 Did anyone have a tremendous impact on your leadership journey and if so, how?

    1. In addition to some highly qualified and successful individuals that vigorously contributed to my growth and development through student years to ‘dream’ retirement (Freedom 55), I would give utmost credit to ‘adversity.’ Without this single most forceful factor chasing me to no end, I would not be where I am today.

    Adversity taught me many things, prominent being:
    • Know your position in the society, let no one steal it
    • Keep building on what you got; there’s always a lot more waiting to be achieved
    • Challenges are yet another milestone
    • Be positive until your last breath as it could have been much worse
    • Our Dear Lord gives His toughest tests to the hardiest of His subjects; be one of those to get closer to Him
    • Share what you learn and put knowledge to use
    • It is easier to have a closed mind; positive thinking takes courage, persistence, and faith in your own self above all else

    2 What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of an organization?

    I must find an inherent advantage for three segments in everything my organization does:
    • The Employees
    • The Customers and
    • The Dealer/Vendor Network

    The absence of any one or more of these elements will fail my test and get shelved without further discussion

    3 How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility?

    I encourage people to connect all the dots from their individual past and connect to their present so they could plan their future in a judicious manner. This helps them judge what changes need to be made and why. It has always worked in creating an urgent sense of responsibility

    4 How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?

    I invite new employees to communicate with a cross-section of employees rather than within their own section or department. It helps them gather a clearer picture free from bias of a few individuals

    5 When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?

    I have always chosen the one with higher, far more challenging goals supported by the corresponding element of passion. I must know their individual goals and what action plan they have in place to achieve it.

    6 What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

    Honesty; being truthful is a virtue that always stays the same!

    7 What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

    Although hard to pinpoint one specific challenge, I would say understanding the young adult generation poses one of the greatest challenges. It is a combination of their culture and work ethics, their mastery of technology leading to far-fetched expectations, their sense of independence across the board. They are the harbingers of a major paradigm shift and as such today’s leaders must understand them better to continue to lead

    8 What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?

    Going on the defensive; when challenged, so many ‘leaders’ try to find shelter where they could hide or come up with an excuse in defense of their statement/s. The majority of the yesteryears’ leaders are reduced to the status of sooth-sayers rather than value providers. It is a tragic situation but worth noticing none-the-less

    9 What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

    Do your homework, edit it multiple times, find your niche rather than be a ‘Mr. Know-All, Do All’ kind of a guy. Be your own self rather than imitating your favorite leader/s. For them, it is second nature but for you it will be an artificial pose. Only your true self can help build your credibility so stick to it all the time.

    10 How do you define leadership success?

    To me personally, ‘Leadership Success’ is a misnomer. Why, because success is never permanent. It is just a process, a cyclical process if you like. Each act, advice or statement of a leader has to pass certain scrutiny, sometimes adaptive and at others vicious. The moment there is a lack of value delivery in any form or manner, your integrity itself comes into question.

    Leadership is akin to a double-edged sword. On the one side, you have followers, always hungry for more. On the other, there is a never-ending stream of detractors waiting for an opportunity to shred you to pieces. Mastering the act of balancing between the two portends more towards success, but no long-term guarantees there either.

    Keeping in view the above, I would humbly withdraw from giving even a vague definition of leadership success.

  8. 1. Did anyone have a tremendous impact on your leadership journey and if so, how? Like most people, I was blessed to have many great leaders impact my development. I say “like most people” because the great influences are always there, but we have to be open to them. The inspiration provided by historical figures such as Socrates, Alfred the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Abraham Lincoln, and many others, continues to shape my thinking and commitment. Family and friends also influenced me greatly, as did several outstanding teachers. In my business career, the CEO at the first advertising agency I worked for had a massive impact on my leadership development, through his integrity, knowledge, wisdom, and compassion. But far and away the greatest impact on me in terms of leadership has been Jesus Christ, who gave us the concept of servant leadership.
    2. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of an organization? The most important decisions are the foundational ones – what you want the company to become, how you intend to achieve that goal, and the ethical standards that will guide the organization.
    3. How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility? Engage, Enthuse, Educate, Equip, Empower
    4. How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization? Assuming that one has a virtuous culture, that is, one that exemplifies honesty, diligence, creativity, courage, self-control, mutual support, and justice, the on-boarding and orientation of new people should happen quite naturally. But of course, few organizations today have virtuous cultures, and they are compelled to implement formal programs that all too often pay mere lip service to the very necessary function they are supposed to fulfil. Leaders shape culture, for better or worse, and culture evolves constantly as people come and go, grow or stagnate. Wherever you see a toxic or hopeless culture, leadership is missing.
    5. When faced with two equally qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire? I am a great believer in the old adage, “Hire character, train skills”, so while you may encounter equal qualifications, you will always have the more important criterion, i.e. sound character, to guide you.
    6. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? Integrity
    7. What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today? The most serious challenge facing leaders today is the wider culture of the postmodern West – nihilistic, narcissistic, self-indulgent, promiscuous, trained but uneducated, entranced by trivia, childish, and as Solzhenitsyn pointed out, lacking in courage. And the cultural malaise afflicts not just employees, but many managers, politicians, professionals, and academics as well. In brief, this is the root cause of the global leadership crisis.
    8. What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others? Philosophically, the failure to champion truth; practically, the failure to delegate
    9. What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time? Vision, Virtue, Vigilance – all day, every day
    10. How do you define leadership success? I define leadership as: “inspiring people to be the best they can be in working together for the good of all”. If you do that, you will be a successful leader.

  9. 1. My leadership has been impacted the most from working under poor leaders. I have seen how their leadership negatively influenced my motivation, morale, and creativity.

    2. The most important decisions you will make as a leader is how you are going to grow and support those working with you. Your potential as a leader and the potential of the organization as a whole is limited or limitless depending on these decisions.

    3. By showing trust and confidence in the ability of others, I encourage them to take control of and responsibility for their own work.

    4. We have work communities that employees are randomly assigned to be members of. The moment a new employee walks through the door they are greeted by a member of their community. Members take them to lunch on their first day, they take them on a tour, introduce them to other employees, and show them the ropes. Their community meets once a month for fun, relationship building activities but they are there to support each other every day.

    5. When faced with two equally qualified candidates I look at which candidate’s personality is the best fit for the department. I also consider attitude and enthusiasm. I can teach skill; I can’t change attitudes or teach internal motivation.

    6. Humility.

    7. I think the biggest challenge facing leaders today is change. I’m talking about personal change. The way we have lead in the past is no longer effective. People want autonomy, they want a place at the table, and they want to be treated as equals. Here’s where the humility as a leader comes in. You can no longer lead from an ivory tower.

    8. The biggest mistake I witness leaders making is always looking for someone to blame. Everyone makes mistakes. We all fail on occasion. The key to success as a leader is sharing the lesson learned in a way that encourages employees to keep giving 100% instead of pointing fingers and undermining their confidences. The focus should be on how we are going to move forward from here.

    9. Remember, just because you are being placed in a leadership position does not automatically mean you deserve to be followed. Leadership requires earning the respect and trust of those you lead. Stay off of your high horse, roll up your sleeves, and get out and build relationships with your employees on their home field.

    10. When my organization can run just as well without me as it can with me, I have succeeded as a leader.

    • Great feedback here Liz. Your 1st Answer ditto’s my experience, as some of the best lessons learned have been by working alongside or for some of the worst leaders… Thanks for sharing your experience here…!

  10. 1. Did anyone have a tremendous impact on your leadership journey and if so, how?
    At the start of my career I worked with many who were leaders because they had “reverent” power. They had this power, not because of politics, but because of what they knew and how they applied what they knew. Their knowledge was in methodologies, technologies, and risk management. Depending on the situation the appropriate leader on our team would step up and lead us through the impeding uncertainty. I became a leader via trial by fire because I worked on many teams like this. I had no choice but to step up.

    2. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of an organization?
    The most important leadership decisions I’ve made were around battling with political untouchables, firing executives, and killing key initiatives. Deciding on when to battle and not battle with political untouchables we must consciously decide when egos must be stroked and pride must be swallowed. And there are times where we got to decide to do what we got to do. We must fire that executive. Sure they’re performing how they should be performing yet culturally they are tanking productivity and driving key people to quit in droves. Executives must be force multipliers, not force dividers. Besides decisions for the untouchables and the dividers there are the sacred cow initiatives, the key initiatives. There are times when there is just too much spend, too much effort, too many resources, and too much pain that it is best to just quit and decide to let a key initiative die.

    3. How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility?
    I leverage authoritative and reverent power to encourage others to do what needs to get down by establishing clear expectations and clear ownership on who owns what. Then I reinforce this with constant communiqués.

    4. How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?
    Culture is made up of cultural camps; with each camp led by a leader. I explain the culture based on the behavior of these leaders and the behaviors the camp emulates from their leaders.

    5. When faced with two equally qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
    To break the tie I look at long term potential and the investment required to tap into that potential. To determine this I talk about my passions and ask the candidates to talk about their passions.

    6. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
    Every leader is a force multiplier and has the analytical fortitude to clearly articulate how they are this force multiplier.

    7. What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
    Many leaders are struggling with balancing the decisions they make based on their information and based on their gut. There must be balance.

    8. What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
    Because many leaders have authoritative power they tend to get their own way quite a bit. Because they’re getting their own way all the time discussions that should have happened didn’t resulting in millions and at times billions of dollars lost.

    9. What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
    There are many kind of leaders; work to your strengths.

    10. How do you define leadership success?
    A leader is successful when all his/her behaviors can be easily emulated; and these emulated behaviors lead to a high performance business culture. A leader is successful when a leader is a force multiplier; and that multiplier can be financially measured.

    • Great reading here Chris. Never heard of the term “reverent” power, but it certainly applies… Your insights, combined with the many other unselfish leaders whom have stepped up here will no doubt form a great foundation for an authentic leadership bible… Thanks for sharing!

  11. 1. Did anyone have a tremendous impact on your leadership journey and if so, how? – My old boss at AT&T had an impact on me because he never lost his temper (except maybe on the golf course). He worked the problem and never pointed fingers or blame on any of his subordinates.

    2. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of an organization? – Making people better. They are the heart of the organization and people make or break an organization. To me, everything else is secondary. Strategy, you can’t implement a strategy unless you have good people. Client growth and retention – People do that. Improvement – All related to people and the processes that they are working in.

    3. How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility? – Assess them. Identify their skills and competencies. Take advantage of those they are well developed in and help them develop those that are weak. Delegate those things that work to their strengths. Bring them on board to projects that will help grow their weaknesses.

    4. How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization? – First of all, hire the right people. Job benchmarking is a great way to match the candidate to the job. Second, make sure you have a robust and measurable onboarding process.

    5. When faced with two equally qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire? – People hire people they like. People hire people they know they can work with and fit in with their team. Skills can be taught. I hire the person who will fit into the culture even if they have less experience.

    6. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? – Continuous learning. No one knows everything. We are all smart about certain things, but a good leader identifies and owns the fact that they don’t know everything which is why you hire good people.

    7. What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today? – Leadership skills. I think that there are a lot of “leaders” out there that don’t have the leadership skills necessary to be a true leader. This is evident by turnover, employee dissatisfaction, low customer retention.

    8. What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others? – Letting ego get in the way. I have seen leaders make wrong decisions not because they have good information but simply because they were not willing to admit they were wrong or didn’t know what to do.

    9. What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time? – Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Listen more, talk less. Coach rather than manage. Mentor rather than control. Learn as much as you can about your subordinates and peers. Assess yourself and your leadership team so that you can learn how they react to situations, how they like to receive information, what drives them. Share your results with your team.

    10. How do you define leadership success? – If you are leading and no one is following, you are just taking a walk. Leadership success to me is if the company is following and believes in the leader.

  12. Leadership answers kindly relayed from Sandy Chernoff:

    1. Did anyone have a tremendous impact on your leadership journey and if so, how?

    Being involved in a large international women’s organization I was exposed to some very impressive leaders and one in particular, impressed me every time she spoke or handled a situation. I was inspired by her dedication, her people skills, and her wonderfully amazing presentation skills. She encouraged me to do a number of projects and ultimately her support led me to become a leadership trainer for the organization and that training was finally turned into my current soft skills consulting business.

    2. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of an organization?

    The leader of any organization sets the tone for the culture of that organization so must develop that internal architecture, commit to it and model it. Also, an effective leader must be forward looking and willing to take the occasional risk. In order to do both of those, they must be decisive, intelligent and competent.

    3. How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility?

    I try to discover the “gifts” that a person has and then help them to develop those for the betterment of that individual and the organization. A confident, happy person will be productive, efficient and creative….an asset for any organization. If a person feels supported and encouraged they are likely to rise to the occasion and do their best but they do need to know what is expected of them so that they can fulfill their responsibilities….meaning a clear, well-outlined job description is essential for their success as well as a possible mentor if they need some help to achieve their goals.

    4. How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?

    A new hire should experience an orientation program that is consistent with the company’s culture and again, a mentor should also be made available, initially, to help them with anything they may want more information about.

    5. When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?

    This is a common issue and the I think the best defining factors would be the candidate’s soft skills…..are they a good team player, do they have effective communication skills, do they manage their time well, do they handle stress well, are they a self-starter, can they apply critical thinking to their problem solving strategies. These skills are essential for a person to be valuable to any organization and are equally important as the professional or technical skills you may be seeking…..in other words, they need to be able to fit into the company culture. One other element…they need to be willing and able to adapt to change and embrace it as it certainly become the new norm in our world today. Questions and even short scenarios can be introduced into the interview process to determine these qualities.

    6. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

    Authenticity……you need to be open, honest and accountable.

    7. What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

    Change and competition in a fast moving world ….how can we stay ahead of the crowd and remain a successful and viable business?

    8. What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?

    The most important skill for any successful leader is effective communication and active listening is the most important one of those. Many leaders do not listen well to their people and then they cause them to disengage and great opportunities can be missed.

    9. What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

    Listen well!!! You cannot learn anything if you do not listen. Yes, you need a plan and vision, and must be able to clearly articulate that, however, do not miss opportunities for great ideas that could come forward from your people, so give them the chance to offer those suggestions and be respectful of all of all of them.

    10. How do you define leadership success?

    A successful leader is when their people will follow them anywhere if only out of curiosity! Be authentic, open-minded, forward-looking, competent, decisive and an excellent communicator and you will be a great leader. If you inspire your people they will follow you anywhere!

  13. 6. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
    I have had the privilege to coach many wonderful and successful leaders. The one characteristic that helps a leader become an exemplary leader is through developing their emotional intelligence. When a leader can strengthen areas that need development along with uncovering their blind spots, they lead with more awareness, are able to raise the emotional tone of the culture and can handle crisis and adversity with greater ease and clarity. Increased emotional intelligence gives them an edge to have an open mindset and think outside the box thus finding creative and innovative ideas to enhance their leadership capabilities.

  14. 1. Did anyone have a tremendous impact on your leadership journey and if so, how? The many wonderful leaders I worked with in the Marine Corps – standouts include Rich Amano, Sam Flores, Chuck Ducharme, Ron Kiwi, RJ Wallace, Luke Crouson, and Bo Pennock. These leaders showed me what good leadership should look like, taught me to think like a leader, and most importantly, allowed me to fail so that I could grow as a leader.
    2. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of an organization? What are the capabilities of my team right now and where do I want them to be next year, in five years, in the future. So, how do I get them there? If I make my people successful, I will be successful.
    3. How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility? I start by telling them what I see as their strengths and how we can capitalize on these strengths to help them grow as a leader. Once you have them believing in themselves, you can then give them added responsibility with the understanding that you will always be there to guide them should they need help. Finally, I hold them accountable so that they learn not only from successes but also own up to failures and learn to overcome each setback.
    4. How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization? Christine Andola has written some good information on this important topic. Ensure you have a written plan to help new hires to integrate into the organization. This plan should include introducing them to the rest of the team, showing them where restrooms, breakrooms, copiers, printers, etc. are located, sitting down with them and outlining their new responsibilities. Explaining to them what you expect of them as they begin gaining experience in their new position. Then, follow up regularly at first to ensure you are available to answer questions and provide addition guidance as they become more acquainted with their day-to-day responsibilities.
    5. When faced with two equally qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire? It will really come down to how we interacted during the interview process. I will have to determine which candidate demonstrated that they would be a good fit for the position and for the team so that we quickly become a functioning group geared toward success.
    6. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? Integrity – without this important leadership trait, nothing you do will matter because your team will not see you as trustworthy.
    7. What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today? There are just so few great leaders from whom we can learn. Every day we hear of politicians, business leaders, and other professionals committing crimes, exhibiting moral lapses, or just outright doing whatever they want because of their status. Therefore, today’s up and coming leaders believe this is the way all leaders should be and make “getting ahead at all costs” a way of life. We need good examples in the news who are successful because of the manner in which people grew under their leadership.
    8. What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others? I have seen people in positions of leadership compromise their integrity just to appease corrupt bosses so that they can keep their jobs. Honor is not a virtue people in positions of leadership embrace anymore.
    9. What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time? Remember, leadership is about people. If no one is following you, then you are not and will never be the leader. So learn what it takes to be an exceptional leader and then lead.
    10. How do you define leadership success? When you leave an organization for whatever reason, is your team ready to be successful without you there to guide them. If you do this, you have mentored the next generation with such success that you can leave with your head held high.

  15. 8. Failure to delegate properly. Delegation is more than just giving someone a task or assignment and a target date where appropriate. While the details of the assignment are usually well defined, the amount of authority and responsibility transferred is often very vague. This is a frequent issue in start up companies. Often the creative originator of the company finds it unpalatable to turn over his/her “baby” to another person. Conflict occurs when the manager begins to change what the founder established and authority, if ever granted, is withdrawn or watered down.

    • Indeed Ken, far too often experienced managers are reluctant to “let go” – believing that no one can do it better. And when delegation actually occurs, it’s simply not effectively as you’ve suggested.

  16. 1. Ultimately, what turned me into a good leader was maturity and experience. I always had the initiative and drive to lead, but the compassion came later. The people who influenced me were bosses who proved to be effective leaders.

    2. Hiring is the most important decision you make as a leader of an organization. Not only do you have the good of the organization to be responsible for, but you are also responsible for the livelihood of those individuals.

    3. Flattery actually works. You have to approach people from a positive direction and focus on their strengths. Then, you show them how they can apply those strengths in different ways and grow their own abilities.

    4. Emersion is the only way. Let them meet all the players and experience the different types of interactions. They have to see the location and feel the brand for themselves.

    5. Personality. Skills are not the only determining factor for a good employee. Their work style and personality have to fit with the existing organization. Any group needs a balance of personality types to really be efficient.

    6. Humility. If you cannot learn from the people on your team, you cannot lead them.

    7. Individuality. We all live in more of a bubble than we used to, especially the younger generation. It is harder to find people who want to work for a common cause, like the benefit of the organization. Leaders have to show people where their goals intersect with the organizations goals and motivate them in that direction.

    8. Harsh criticism. Many leaders assert their power through criticism thinking it will help their team improve. In fact, it just turns people off. The leaders I work with get tired of hearing me remind them to praise their employees.

    9. Put yourself in their shoes. If you consider every decision from the perspective of your team, you will get them on your side and implementation will be easier. That is the respect that will prove you are a good leader.

    10. If you are a successful leader, people want to follow you. Work is not an endless battle to get the job done. Your team trusts you, although they may sometimes question your decisions. A successful leader does not have to chase the team to give directions. They come to him seeking guidance.

  17. 5. I have never seen two equally qualified candidates. No two people are the same, or have identical backgrounds, attitudes, or experiences. If one is faced with what seems to be equally qualified candidates then one of two conditions exist in my opinion. Either the list of needed or required experience and attributes is weak, or the interview process is flawed. In either case the process has not dug deep enough to find the core differences, and those are often what eventually cause failure in the new hire.

    • All good points, Ken. I suppose equal qualifications may exist on paper, the tie-breaker likely surfaces during the interview as it’s not just about experience or education, but how such will be executed.

  18. All very probing questions and complete answers would fill a book (or perhaps several). But, for me the most telling question, and one that impacts many of the other issues is number 6: The one characteristic every leader should possess.

    6. Be true to yourself and your conscience. If you can go to bed every night saying, “I did my best today” then that is all anyone can expect of you. If you get up each morning with a determination to do your best it will get you through the day. Getting better will come with that effort. Those around you will follow your example. You will earn the respect of your reports and even more casual observers. That attitude will provide a major building block in the company culture. You will also sleep well.

    • Indeed, Ken, we suspect that several volumes could be filled with “experienced” answers to these key questions, as real-world knowledge always supersedes “book knowledge” … And you certainly focused here on what is most likely the key Question. If only more leaders would understand and embrace your answer. Thanks for weighing in here…

    • I think sometimes leaders lose sight of what it means to do their best. They are often focused on serving the bottom line and not so concerned with serving the other people in their organization. Add to that the competition to move up to the top, and some leaders lose their way. If we could all just reconnect with the goodness inside, and try to see the goodness in others, the workplace dynamics would sort itself out.

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