That was when I left a company that had been like family for decades to begin my own business. It was also the time when I said goodbye to one of the most influential mentors in my life, career, and management, Al Berg.
Al was the visionary who partnered with two associates to start a company called Marchon. Under their guidance and direction, Marchon grew from a small startup to a highly successful multi-million-dollar international business.
And, under Al’s incredible mentorship, my personal career, leadership, and knowledge of business grew along with the company. It was an opportunity for which I will always be grateful.
I once again said goodbye to Al, only this time, it was his turn to move on. Al passed away with cancer after a heroic two-year battle.
He is gone, and we miss him in a way that words cannot describe. And yet, he will always be with us; always in our minds, guiding our thoughts and actions.
Back in 2011, Al hosted a lovely going away dinner for me with our leadership team. At that dinner, I presented Al with a book illustrating the 10 most important lessons I learned from him through the years. Over the next several weeks, I want to share those lessons with you.
Join me in honoring his legacy by not only reading about these lessons, but by applying them in your own life and leadership as well.
In business, and especially if you are a new employee, having an exemplary model of leadership can have a tremendous impact on the course of your career. Al was that exemplary model.
An Exemplary Model
Here are some of the ways Al made a difference, not only in my life and career, but in the lives of countless others in the organization and in his community.
1. He unearthed potential.
You can look at a plot of ground and see dirt. Or you can look beneath the surface and find hidden treasures.
Our history is full of those who saw beyond the soil, who patiently and determinately dug to find hidden artifacts, strike gold, and tap into veins of precious oil.
Al was a leader who made it his goal to find the gold in his people, even when they could not see it in themselves.
If you were open to change, he was willing to be the change-maker.
Look at your team. Do you see gold glittering? You have a unique opportunity to bring it to the surface. In fact, it is a leader’s greatest responsibility and reward to do so.
2. He saw strengths.
You may look at an employee and think he or she is “too aggressive and prone to anger” or, conversely, “too nice to be effective.”
Not Al. He himself was both aggressive and nice. He was usually aggressive, mostly due to his passion for getting the right things accomplished.
He saw these as strengths to be honed.
An aggressive employee can become a passionate leader and advocate for his or her people and the organization.
A “nice” employee can be your best ally and quite effective in areas like customer service and working with teams.
Very often, our greatest weaknesses are our greatest strengths in disguise. A wise leader will see strengths in the very things that others may see as a weakness.
3. He was tough but sensitive.
Leadership is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage and fortitude. Al had his share of those, for sure. He could easily intimidate folks, not because he wanted to, but because he had a larger-than-life presence.
But he also had a sensitive, caring side that was equally as important. In fact, that was a hallmark of his incredible influence. Al was very generous – to his employees, the organization, and his community.
Like a general preparing his army, he would bring his people to the brink of breaking, and then tell them he loved them. His people both loved and respected him. Al yielded a velvet hammer, knowing intuitively how to get his leaders to throttle up; but he also knew when they needed encouragement and support in order to grow. He helped them raise their self-expectations and then rise to meet and exceed them.
With this balance, he set the standard for dealing with valued customers, clients, and partners as well. He could drive a hard bargain…or give a generous gift as the situation warranted.
He challenged his people to accomplish new goals, supported their efforts, and rewarded their accomplishments.
4. He focused on results.
As an entrepreneur, Al knew that a business had to make a profit in order to survive. And he knew that a rising tide carries all ships. He took the responsibility of getting results seriously because his employees, company, and community depended on it.
Where many entrepreneurs build nothing more than an expensive hobby, Al built a major corporation that not only served to support his family but helped to support countless others under his watchful care.
Think about your leadership. Could these four points be made about your leadership and influence?
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.