What qualities make a great leader? While everyone is setting resolutions for the New Year, I choose to reflect on one of the leaders I’ve worked with and to talk about the qualities that made him great.
Roger Crosby and I worked together for 11 years. At the time, he was the CEO of NYF Corp., and I was the CFO. Roger pulled me out of my comfort zone and shaped my experiences. He understood human behavior better than anyone I’ve ever known. He connected with people immediately and formed deep relationships with an amazing variety of individuals who considered him their mentor.
Whenever I see the word “vision,” I think of Roger. He wasn’t interested in incremental change—he was a transformational leader who was never afraid to shake things up. He had confidence that we could accomplish monumental things, was convincing enough to win huge contracts, and was disciplined enough to ensure that we executed well.
SEEK DIVERSE VIEWPOINTS
Unlike many CEOs, he wanted people to challenge him. He had a large sign made up for our lobby that read, “Leadership Code: We give each other permission to challenge each other, even if it makes one of us uncomfortable. We are here to help, not judge.” We all understood that working for a leader who valued us that way was truly a privilege.
Roger was keenly aware that his upbringing had given him certain advantages, and he didn’t consider himself any better or more deserving than anyone else. He knew that people working on our front lines who hadn’t had the opportunity to go to college were just as intelligent as he was—he told me that many times.
He believed in everyone’s ability to make a contribution and could unleash creativity and leverage the knowledge and skills of people from all parts of our company. He truly believed in teamwork and was the master of collaboration.
BECOME A MENTOR
I had the honor of speaking at Roger’s memorial service when he passed away two years ago. A number of other people spoke about how he had mentored them as well. He left a legacy of business success, but I think he was proudest of his success in unlocking the potential of his mentees and changing their lives.
What qualities do you value in leadership at your company? Share your thoughts with us below.