My first job was pumping gas, servicing cars and repairing tires at a local gas station. That’s were I learned how to make change without a cash register and how to fix a flat tire. My second job was at a local meat packing company. I was the clean up guy and had to dismantle and clean all the machines they used to process meat. That is where I learned how to have a system and follow a process in cleaning the plant. I also learned how to work alone and to not cut corners. I learned that people were counting on me to do my job so that they can do their job when they showed up in the morning.
My next job was at a local cheese manufacturing and retail business. I learned a lot working there, things like retail sales strategies, inventory control and customer service. I learned how to cut cheese samples and set up displays. I even got into some construction by helping to remodel an apartment for one of the children of the owner. During that time I got to interact with subcontractors and did work like drywall, floor tile, and general construction. I learned about working hard and doing it right the first time.
Soon after that I went to college and then started my career in banking. I started as an internal auditor for a Savings & Loan in Wooster Ohio. That was my first exposure to corporate America. I learned to pay attention to detail as I had to audit every area of the company and make sure everything added up. I also learned how to set goals and work on projects and be a team player. I learned how to manage my time and finish what I started. I also learned how to cut costs and work within a budget. I learned how to show respect to my boss and follow direction.
My next job was at a local community bank as a loan officer. I was in my early 20’s and this was my first job where I got to directly interact with customers. I learned a lot about finances, balance sheets, financial statements and tax returns. I learned about risk and how to manage that. I learned how to read people and their character. I learned about customer service and how to win over potential new customers. I learned how to serve customers and make them want to continue to do business with us. I was promoted quickly to a branch manager and did all kinds of lending. I continued to learn about management, customer service, lending, community service and economic development. I developed a passion for developing leadership skills in myself and others.
After 12 years in the banking industry I transitioned into the accounting world with a regional accounting firm. They created a new department for me to run which focused on enhancing profits and adding value to their clients. I did a lot of training in customer service, leadership, management and strategic planning. I learned how to interact with business owners and CEO’s. I learned how to win friends and influence people. I learned how to lead groups of business people and do public speaking and presentations. I got even more involved in community organizations and public relations. I learned about marketing and sales and what it takes to run a business.
Then I took all that I had had learned in all of those jobs and went to work at a local church. Those experiences have helped to shape me into the leader I am today. The things I learned in the workplace have helped me to lead the local church and continue to influence people and impact our community. Here are some of the things I believe are vital to leading with excellence no matter where you are:
- Value excellence and don’t settle for average
- Pay attention to details and finish what you start
- Remain committed to what really matters, keep first things first.
- Display integrity and sound ethics because people are always watching
- Show genuine respect for the people around you
- Go the second mile, take the initiative if something needs to be done, don’t wait to be told.
- Be clear when you communicate
- Listen and then listen some more
- Be consistent, show up and do your job well
- Never stop improving or growing
- Be flexible and open to new ideas and other ways to get things done.
- Empower the people around you and mentor and coach them
- Always give 100%
Leadership is all about influence and we are either gaining or declining in our influence. There are a lot of things that are out of our control, but the way in which you work and lead is within your control. So no matter where you are working, what are you learning and how are you growing.