Over the years, I’ve discovered the following to be true: in order to be a good leader, you have to hold yourself, and your team, to a core set of personal values. When Dave and I founded Likeable Media, we thought about our values and how to translate them into the mission of the organization. As a result, every team member at Likeable is passionate, transparent, accountable, innovative, and likable. Our core values affect every decision we make, and are integral to our success as a team and an organization.
Good leaders adhere to personal values and inspire their team to do the same. I’ve always believed this to be true, but I started thinking about it more after reading a recent Patch interview with Rick Davidson, president and CEO of Century 21. Rick summarized leadership so simply and eloquently. He said, “The essence of leadership could be remarkably simple: if you have the individual spirit and belief, and partner with a team of professionals with similar energy and ideas, together you can accomplish anything that you put your collective minds to.” It’s clear that Rick’s definition applies to his leadership at work and in his community.
Later this year, Rick will be leading a team on a climb up and down Mount Kilimanjaro as part of the 2015 Easter Seals “Climb for Kids.” Easter Seals and Century 21 have partnered for over 35 years to support Easter Seals’s overall mission. As the charity itself puts it, "Easter Seals provides exceptional services, education, outreach, and advocacy, so that people living with autism and other disabilities can live, learn, work, and play in our communities.” In essence, they help people find a house and neighborhood that they are comfortable calling home, a mission that directly aligns with Century 21’s mission.
In the interview, Rick discussed similarities between climbing and leading a team at work. He said, “There are many parallels between climbing and leadership in the boardroom. Very few things in life are more exhilarating than when you arrive at the summit of a glaciated mountain. To get there is a struggle, with many potential roadblocks, but with commitment, a belief in yourself, and a goal shared by all members of your team, the summit is attainable. Like in business, the difference between success and failure is teamwork.” His statement resonated with me and reinforced my definition of a leader.
Climbing a mountain is a struggle. So is running a business. But both allow you to experience the exhilarating thrill of accomplishing something difficult. If you do it while sticking to your core values, the thrill will be that much sweeter.
What core values do you embody, and how have they helped you with your own climbs in business and in life?