We sat down with Director of Service at CTS Telecom, Tom Ward, to get his perspectives on leadership, risk, and more.
What does it mean to be a good leader?
A good leader is a person who people look up to and want to follow. They’re someone who is willing to sacrifice for their team, to set an example, and to set their people up for success.
How would you describe your leadership style?
My leadership style is built on support and trust. I trust my team to be able to get the job done without me having to micromanage. I also focus on aligning their strengths and their passions with projects to get the best results. I work on building a connection with each one of my team members to understand what goals they have set forth, so I can align them with projects that peek their interest.
What is an essential quality for a leader to have in today’s business climate?
It’s essential for a leader today to have open communication with their team and to create a meaningful connection with each individual of that team. It’s vital that everyone knows that they’re a valued person and not just another employee. It makes a huge difference just talking to people one-on-one, not only about work but around their personal lives.
What is the biggest risk you have taken that eventually paid off?
About five years ago, I moved back home to Michigan from Oklahoma. It was a risk for me as I moved back without really a job lined up or a plan of action. I wanted to be back home in Michigan, and it paid off when I found a job with CTS Telecom—it’s been a great fit ever since.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
The best advice I ever received was from my dad. He would always say to me, “Fear is of the unknown.” Meaning that something is only scary because you haven’t done it before and once you have done it, then it’s something not to be scared of anymore. And this has been great advice for me through my professional career as I have taken risks and as I go through doing things for the first time.
What personal goal do you have as a leader?
We have a motto at CTS, and that motto is, “We Answer the Call.” A personal goal of mine, as a leader within the organization, is to make sure I set my team up in position to seize new opportunities and to make sure that we can quickly and efficiently answer the call. To approach this goal, I do a lot of preparation, training and advancing the knowledge and working with individuals on my team to continue to raise the bar on what we’re able to do so that we can efficiently and quickly answer that call.
What do you do to relax?
One of my favorite things to do to relax is to listen to music. I listen to all different types and genres, but I really enjoy the ’80s and ’90s music.
What are your ingredients for a perfect summer day?
A perfect summer day to me would be out at the lake, on the beach, and in the water with friends and family. In Michigan, you have to take advantage of those times in the summer.
If there were a movie made about you, which actor/actress would play you?
The actor that I think would best be able to portray me is Matt Damon. He’s a very versatile actor who can adapt to many different types of screenplays. He can be in a serious role, comedy, or action. Like him, I feel that I am very adaptable to my environment and can wear many different hats.
On a beautiful day, where is your “go-to” patio spot to eat in Southwest Michigan?
My favorite spot to go to is Jack’s Tap in South Portage. That’s right where I live, so it’s great a local place for me to go. It has a casual, comfortable setting and great food.