Monday, December 26, 2016

Looking back at the people who influenced me.

Inspiration comes from plenty of places.
I find inspiration from some of the weirdest places.  I could be watching a Bollywood movie or enjoying one of the many Dune books by Fran Herbert or his son Brian.  I also identify with comedies inspired by former cast members, so Saturday Night live.  I even ponder if Bill Murray is my spirit animal.  These influences have shaped my leadership style.  This week I want to discuss influences.

In my view, there are two kinds of influences; positive and negative.  Negative influences are anti-examples.  It is something or someone you refuse to emulate in your leadership.  The positive influence is one you want to fold into your practices.  I consider both types important for shaping your style of leadership.

I have many positive influences in my career; people like Andy LaChapelle, Roy and Yvonne Guash and JoAnn Pankow from Harrah’s Casino in Joliet.  I have technology professionals like Angela Dugan and Allen Dail who shape my views about corporate IT.  The most influential group in my life are the numerous coaches and competitors I have met from the world of college forensics.   People like Megan Koch, Craig Cutbirth, Elige Wilson and Ed Suitor shaped me into the person I am today.

Over my career, I have worked for numerous organizations and leaders.  The negative experiences have marked me like tattoos.  Each one made me swear to myself I would never subject any who works with me.  For example, I consulted at a company where a majority of the technology staff were consultants with H-111 visas.  Meetings were grim and quite affairs because anyone who spoke up was rolled off the project and deported back to their nation of origin.  I remember being told by e-commerce solutions should like about inventory levels because high margins were superior to happy customers.  Finally, I worked for an emotionally stunted man who would yell at me to work faster and then yell at me when I would make a mistake because was working too quickly.

In these moments of darkness, I swore I would never do things like that to people who worked with me.  I have had my moments of weakness and have fallen short of my expectations, but I have never been intentionally cruel to people.  Knowing that helps me sleep better at night.

Positive and negative influences matter and they shape the leader you become.  Paying attention to both is important.

Until next time.