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GUEST POST: Embracing Change

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GUEST POST: Embracing Change

 

Guest Post Author is Steven Sherman, Graduate Student at GORE Business School, Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah


Startup Company. Nanotechnology. Funding. Moving across America. Uncertainty. Challenge. Excitement. Opportunity. These were the words and ideas that dominated my thoughts two years ago as I prepared to leave a company and the stability I had worked to develop for almost twenty years. Although I enjoyed the cutting-edge technology of industrial automation and robotics, I yearned for an opportunity to learn and grow further, and to work with a leadership team I could admire, respect, and learn from.

In following that path, I have achieved tremendous personal and professional satisfaction and growth, predominately predicated on the opportunity to work with a fantastic leader.

Michael has had a tremendous positive effect on the team at our small, rapidly growing enterprise, and demonstrates effective leadership that is representative of some of the leading concepts in the art of leadership.

Fast Pace Fast Change

As the business and technology cycles quicken, and competition intensifies and internationalizes, leadership has become a distinguishing necessity of successful companies. Leadership is coping with change.[i]

Humility Enabled Drive

From growing up in Sri Lanka and Zambia, Michael has had many experiences that serve as strong points of reference for a boy who came alone to the U.S. at 15 and worked his way to success. These experiences have inculcated within him a profound humility that anchors many of the leadership skills that he possesses. Although counterintuitive to some, the combination of humility and drive is a key factor in companies that experience transformational success.[ii] Michael pushes his team through and beyond conventional limitations. His ability to connect with people and motivate them in part comes from the calm and almost gentle manner in which he responds to challenges, and from the way that he reflectively engages employees when problems arise. “Help me to understand” is his standard leading dialog to exploring the stated impossibility and also becomes the bridge connecting the employee back to the land of the possible. Another example of a humility fueled leadership skill is the environment he creates for his team by mirroring all blame to himself, while contrastingly pushing all praise directed at him out his corner office window and down to the team members, ensuring that the praise is honest, appropriate, and plentiful.[iii] This approach demonstrates an honest respect for others and their contributions,[iv] and creates the right environment for success, one of the most important things an effective leader can do.[v]

Emotional Intelligence in Action

Michael displays a keen ability to influence the behavior of others to move the enterprise forward by making highly effective use of the connections he makes, maintains, and leverages with his colleagues. The value and role that connections play in creating environments that produce results is well documented.[vi] However, the first place one must connect is between self and reality. Michael is comfortable and confident with who he is, often smiling as he sheepishly unfolds a tale of self-deprecating humor. This connection he has to his true self allows him to moderate the way he responds to difficult issues and people, and allows his determination to become infectious and motivate the whole team. Michael’s behaviors and personal style typify the art of managing oneself, but as he earnestly seeks to understand and connect with the viewpoints of others in making decisions, or displays great social skill and genuine friendliness in using his funny pet names for his colleagues or with the affable office banter he engages in, he also displays an active awareness of the need to manage relationships.[vii] Michael displays considerable emotional intelligence, an ingredient that has been shown to be twice as effective as any other in driving outstanding performance.[viii]

Emulating the Future

I have learned much about how to effectively lead colleagues from Michael, and I find myself naturally patterning my actions and my conversations after his. “Help me to understand” has found its way into my own leading dialogues, and I have become more comfortable and honest with self-discovery.

Under Michael’s leadership, our enterprise is undergoing an exciting transformation as we strategically climb our summit together, and my professional environment has never been more rewarding. My thoughts today? Upwards. Onwards. Together. Challenge. Excitement. Opportunity.

 

[i] Kotter, John P. (2011). What Leaders Really Do. In Harvard Business Review Press, On Leadership (p. 38), Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

[ii] Collins, Jim (2011). Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. In Harvard Business Review Press, On Leadership (p. 123), Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

[iii] Collins, Jim (2011). Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. In Harvard Business Review Press, On Leadership (p. 133), Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

[iv] Annunzio, Susan Lucia (2004). Contagious Success. New York, NY: Penguin Group

[v] Annunzio, Susan Lucia (2004). Contagious Success. New York, NY: Penguin Group

[vi] Dutton, Jane E. (2014). Build High-Quality Connections. In Dutton, Jane E. & Spreitzer, Gretchen M (Eds.), How to Be a Positive Leader (pp. 11-13). New York, NY: Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

[vii] Goleman, Daniel (2011). What Makes a Leader?. In Harvard Business Review Press, On Leadership (pp. 7-19), Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation

[viii] Goleman, Daniel (2011). What Makes a Leader?. In Harvard Business Review Press, On Leadership (p. 3), Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation

 


Guest Post Author is Steven Sherman, Graduate Student at GORE Business School, Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah

 

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About the Author:

Professor and award winning author, world traveler, Mom, thought leader, mentor, friend, and advocate Vicki Whiting, Ph.D. is dedicated to the facilitation of learning and the development of leaders in all walks of life.

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