What’s The Most Important Thing A Leader Must Do?
My wife and daughter used a piece of debris that washed along the Jersey Shore this summer to carve the letters of our last name. Garretson. As I flipped through the beach pictures this week, the image stopped me dead in my tracks.
And, it should. There is a story behind that name. It communicates my values, beliefs, as well as the kind of leadership I bring to initiatives, teams and organizations. It’s who I am. As we learn more about who are leaders are, we not only build a stronger personal connection to them, but we glean specific insight as to the ‘why’ behind how they lead.
Not until you learn that Michael Jordan was cut from his freshman high-school basketball team do you begin to understand what fuels the intense competitiveness and desire to win that propelled him to the pinnacle of the sport. Jordan’s under-privileged upbringing, the backyard hoop in the dirt that he would use for hours, tells you even more about of what kind of work ethic he possesses. As a teammate, you appreciate how demanding Jordan will be of others on his team and why he expects a high level of competitiveness in every game and practice.
The most important thing a leader must do is share his or her story.
Here’s the problem. Most leaders fail to ever communicate their leadership story. Therefore, the people you lead never really know who you are. Until you do, they only know the name on the email in their inbox, the placard on the wall outside the office, or the list of priorities you rattle off in morning meetings.
My Leadership Story
From a very young age, I remember my mom and dad dragging me and my brother to our family manufacturing business on Saturdays while they both tended to business that needed to be done. Growing up through high school and college, we learned the family business from the ground up – starting in the factory stocking shelves, sweeping floors, using our hands to make, pack and ship product for customers – hot summers with no air conditioning. We were raised on commitment, hard work and honesty.
It was only years later that we somehow made it to the office area behind a desk (in a cubicle) to sift through miles of “green-bar” sales reports, pound on keyboards, and create charts and graphs. This was WAY before salesforce.com, fancy macbooks, and even smart phones. Inheriting my Dad’s passion for entrepreneurship, I started my own personal training business in college. Following graduation, I joined the family business and entrenched myself in what felt like a 24 hour-a-day, 365 day-a-year mission to the top.
With an intense desire to “produce” and make an impact, I laddered through a number of sales and marketing leadership roles within the family business as well as several stops in the Fortune 500 world.
Where I would really excel and truly, my passion, was in the one-on-one time spent with individuals (employees and customers alike) educating, coaching and consulting with them on strategies to improve and grow. Those kinds of interactions are second nature. It was like I could immediately see the wider circle of potential around their businesses and would proceed to craft the plan to help them realize it.
After marrying my wife of 11 years and becoming ‘Dad’ to 4 children, I am focused on chasing another kind of potential. Thiers. Rooting our family in a strong faith as priority over their lives completes the tightly woven fabric of strong values that is my leadership.
That’s the story behind “G A R R E T S O N”.
Now, I must fight everyday to carry it out through my leadership – whether through my client engagements, writing, or speaking. Most importantly, when I arrive home in time for dinner to lead my family.
How will you use your story to impact the people in your circle?
I know you have the aspiration to grow or you wouldn’t be here. The single most important thing you can do right now is to share your leadership story so that others will know “who you are.”
So, what’s the story behind your name?
Whatever you do, don’t forget to share it with your family.
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Founder Todd Garreston
With over 15 years of experience leading market share growth initiatives of top consumer brands in Fortune 500 and privately-held business environments, Todd Garretson advises and helps organizations identify new growth potential, craft strategy that moves people to action and enhance overall performance.
Having a passion for helping people and organizations to unlock dormant growth potential, Todd writes and speaks for audiences in three core areas: business growth strategy, leadership and personal / professional growth.
Residing in Atlanta, GA with his wife, Lauri, and their four children, weekends and free time are spent with family, coaching youth sports, and sharing his passion for fitness and nutrition.