Follow the true leader: a blueprint for success
How do you know if you are following the right leader? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. As we approach Independence Day in the U.S., and are nearly in the final leg of a dramatic campaign for president, many people are earnestly contemplating a host of things: candidate qualities, their experience…their successes, and how those items line up with what is important to us as citizens and human beings.
It’s been a constant running ticker through my head for months. How do you recognize a true leader?
In the words of the sixth president of the United States, John Adams, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
1) Actions that inspire others 2) so they learn more 3) and do more. Nothing in there about being the smartest, or being the best. But success is what happens under true leadership.
Hyland Software, for example, receives media attention quite often for being recognized as a great place to work, a great company to put your trust into with its transformative suite of products and employees who every day craft game-changing solutions for our customers and partners.
This doesn’t happen merely because there is a lot of brain power humming in our buildings, or because we will work through the night,—many nights—to make our efforts successful. It happens because we are inspired.
We are not perfect, but we consistently succeed anyway. How? It was explained to me this way five years ago by an inspiring leader, Mark Davis, VP of Hyland Global Services—who is about to retire from Hyland and move into a new chapter in his already richly storied life.
I don’t expect everyone to be an expert in every aspect that makes each role in our machine successful,” he said “There are people who are very smart and strong in two out of three critical areas, but are weaker in the third…could use some support and mentoring; so we put teams together where we fill in the gaps, learn from each other, and grow together. That’s how we succeed, and that’s how we’re going to win.
It made perfect sense to me then in its simplicity, and I’ve seen it in action ever since as we’ve continued to win as a Global Services team and an organization as a whole.
The importance of working together, recognizing there will be failures along the way, but that true success comes from doing it together, that we are all equals in this effort—managers, mentors, experts and new team members—is a cornerstone of the difference between a manager of people, and a leader.
This is what Mark’s teams had to say to him regarding his service at Hyland:
While it’s a daunting and noble challenge to build an organizational group from virtually nothing to world-class, it’s far more impressive in my book to have impacted and improved the lives of those around you as dramatically as you have. To say we will miss you would be a gross understatement.
Mike Discenzo, team leader, Global Services Marketing
As I look back on all the meals, meetings, phone calls and emails, I realize that when it came to work, you always had your people’s best interest at heart first over your own second. You had our backs and supported us and took all the flack and the brunt of the storm and never winced. Your advice and guidance over the years was motivating and you always made sure that I grew and learned from it, for that I thank you greatly.
Kevin Hughes, senior manager, Global Services, Business Development
After a self-described “long and happy military career” in in the United States Army, Mark, a retired Colonel, joined Hyland Software’s management team in 2001. In his 15 years at Hyland, a majority of his time has been serving as Vice President of Global Services. His diverse experience, his unrelenting dedication and his earnest go-forward strategy built on teamwork with our customers, partners and each other is not only inspiring, it has provided us with a programmatic blueprint for success.
His blueprint includes these central tenets:
- Our work does matter
- Caring about, mentoring and supporting each other is more important than most things and will make the difficult, technically complex projects easier, more rewarding and more remarkable in their success
- Understanding what matters to our customers, and delivering solutions that they are confident in using makes everyone successful
In his retirement announcement, Mark said to a room full of analysts, engineers, solution designers, educators, project managers and others a sentence that gets to the heart of why he will be missed so much, and why we will continue keeping on in this manner:
I’m extremely grateful to have—with you, with friends, with smart passionate people who unlike almost any other place I’ve ever been—invested in each other. We take each other for who we are, and together we have a commitment to be successful, with and for each other.
And as we get ready to celebrate with the United States of America the demarcation of our pursuit of a more perfect Union, and we consider the qualities of leadership, another quote comes to mind regarding a true leader from one of the great military Generals, Douglas MacArthur: “He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”
And that’s how I know we had the great fortune to follow a true leader.