Leading multiple people to a desired vision.
Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
I pull from anybody that I come in contact with, even my kids on the baseball field. I watch how kids interact, and usually there’s a leader that steps out of the crowd. It’s always interesting to see what causes that. And, I do that in working life. Everyone I come in contact with, I learn something from. If I had to give you two people, the ones that stick out the most (are) definitely my wife, a remarkable person (who) gives me honest feedback, (and) professionally, Mark Welch, director of global systems at Flowserve, (who) is pushing me to look past my limiting beliefs that I’ve placed on myself and is causing me to think beyond myself.
What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
Every decision I make is important, and (each one is) the most important at the time.
If I want to succeed as a father, if I want to succeed in my job, if I want my company to do well, if I want my colleagues to do well, I need them to do well. In order to do that, I have to listen. I have to respond to situations. How I respond to someone’s success is very important. How I respond to someone’s failure is extremely important. If someone here at work makes a mistake, how I react to that is going to be pivotal on how they react in the future. If I blow up and fly off the handle, an employee will be less likely to take that chance in the future to make the right decision.
If they have a success, it could also be just as bad if I don’t celebrate that. I need to make sure that I recognize that in the appropriate manner so that they repeat that behavior going forward and know that it’s okay to take a chance and, if you fail, it’s okay.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
The ability to create a vision and sustain that. You have to know where the team’s going, but you also have to be honest with yourself and seek out truth to know, “Am I going in the right direction? Do I have the team?” You have to develop the vision and constantly review that vision to see if it’s valid.
What’s the biggest challenge that you see facing leaders today?
The loss of clarity in their vision. Sometimes we forget where we’re headed, and it may be arrogance, not seeking the truth. And maybe it’s that idea of successes getting to the head and forgetting what is important to you in people and getting you to that vision.
Is there one behavior or trait that you are seeing derail more leaders’ careers?
(Focusing on) personal success. It’s being self-centered, having a big ego.
What do you do for fun?
I have four kids, so a lot of what we do revolves around the kids, but we enjoy that. Family time, for me, is the best, and spending time watching the kids play sports, coaching the kids—that’s what we spend most of our time doing when I’m not working.
What’s your “go-to” spot to eat lunch in Southwest Michigan?
If happiness were the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
If I kept my focus on solving problems and working with people, that would make me rich. And if I can tie that in with my family, with my wife alongside me doing that, that would be fantastic.
If you could go to dinner with three people who would they be?
Dave Ramsey. John Maxwell. Ron Kitchens.
What are three things that you cannot travel on business without?
My cellphone, cellphone charger, and a purpose. I have to know why I’m going somewhere and what the purpose is. I can go otherwise, but to really make it meaningful to me, I have to know the purpose.
Briefcase or backpack?
Who would you most like to meet?
The apostle Paul. Here’s a man who went through just about everything you could possibly think of because he believed in something. (With) the trials and things that he went through, I’d like to understand that passion.
One living person I’d like to meet (is) Warren Buffet. The guy lives pretty modestly with all the success he has, and it seems like family is pretty important to him. It’d be interesting to see how he’s done that—managed to keep that focus with all of that success.
How do you get your most creative ideas?
I get them from other people, ultimately, and (through) hearing people’s struggles. When I see passionate people who want to solve a problem (but) they don’t know how, and I hear their struggle, it makes me want to help them.
What inspires you?
Seeing people succeed. And what’s even more inspiring is seeing people who are struggling but remain positive. Negativity kills me, but when I see someone that is truly in need or needs help and they remain positive, it really gets me going.
What are your daily routines that keep you developing as a leader?
I spend some time in prayer and then I also listen to podcasts as I get ready and make lunches for the kids. I’m constantly listening to different podcasts and reflecting on, “How would that impact me if I did some of those things being presented in those podcasts?”
Daily, it’s observing people and asking questions. I ask a lot of questions and, observing people, to me, is a big deal. I’ve learned a lot from just about everybody that I’ve met, and you learn what not to do, just as much as you learn what to do. If there’s a meeting, I love to watch how everyone interacts and I like to observe what works well and what doesn’t when others communicate.
What is your favorite leadership book?
The Bible. All the leadership books I’ve read and you hear about through podcasts, reference principles that are talked about in the Bible. It comes (down) to being a decent human and thinking of others—that’s really the core of it.
One of the books that I keep going back to is Teach Your Team to Fish, by Laurie Beth Jones, which has many different parables in it, relating to the Bible and using the principles out of the Bible. It’s a pretty good depiction of me, as far as (the fact that) I don’t have one person that I look to as being my mentor. I’m picking brains of many other people and it uses many different examples of stories in the Bible and how that relates to the workplace or life.
What’s the app on your phone that you can’t live without?
The calendar, messaging, and mail apps.
How do you maintain your and your team’s daily motivation?
By reflecting on the past. (In) trying to develop a culture where it’s more team-oriented, (my) focus is on people, and there isn’t a real tangible metric for that. So, I have to reflect on what the culture was like before and what it is now.
(Maintaining my) team’s daily motivation comes down to communication and the everyday interactions that we have, and remaining positive and honest and responding in a way that is going to build up the team.
What are you doing to ensure your continued growth as a leader?
My vision for myself is that I need to figure out how I’m going to be a leader in my community as well as at work and at home, so I’m looking at all the different facets in my life, and right now (one) of the things I’m doing (is) Leadership Kalamazoo.
Whether it’s (at work) or at home, I’m in my little bubble and there are people doing amazing things. It’s nice to connect with those people to see there are great possibilities out there.
I’m also getting involved in some of the committees around town, especially with schooling in relation to careers, ultimately to help me out with work, but then also to make more connections with people in the community.
What excites you most about the future of Southwest Michigan?
The energy that is in the community (to make) our community better. We’re focusing in on developing leaders, which is exciting for me because I’m in my thirties and I’m thinking, “I have a long way to go.” I want this to be a good community for my kids, and building leaders is going to help us drive the economy in a better direction and that’s pretty exciting.
With all the energy, it’s giving people like me the idea of thinking, “You know, I can make a difference.” And that’s pretty exciting.
What do you think are the most pressing challenges facing leaders today?
As leaders, sometimes we believe that there are a ton of challenges, like having different demographics in the workplace, and having millennials now in the workplace is a big deal. There are all these different beliefs that we’re at odds. To me, the challenge is internal, and what we’re facing is this idea that “something’s going to hold me back.” If we stick to our values and our core principles, and we’re listening to people, I don’t believe that a lot of the challenges occur.
What’s one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
Not listening. There are often times that leaders will ask questions (but) they already have an idea of what the answer’s going to be, and that clouds their vision.
What is your “Life Quote?”
“If your life sucks, it’s because you suck.” – Larry Winget. It’s a funny quote, but to me it means a lot because it’s this personal accountability. It’s this idea that if you don’t like what you’re doing, do something different. If I don’t like the fact that I’m overweight and out of shape, then I should exercise and I should eat better. If I don’t like my job, I should find a new one. It comes down to that personal accountability, and I like the “suck it up” approach.