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Leadership Lessons from 7 Inspirational Influencers

This fall, attendees gathered virtually for CenterState CEO’s interactive take on its popular 7 Habits event to hear seven influential executives and community leaders share leadership lessons that have shaped how they manage, motivate themselves and others, and build success in their lives and careers. The session was moderated by Stan Linhorst, weekly leadership columnist, Syracuse.com and The Post-Standard.

Andy Breuer

President, Hueber-Breuer Construction Co., Inc.

Breuer’s top leadership lessons come from a Norman Mailer quote: “The small businessman is always taking his chances. He leads an existential life. He’s gambling that his wit, his energy, and his ideas of what will work in the marketplace will be successful. He can be a sonofabitch, but at least he’s out there in the middle of life.” Wit – don’t take yourself too seriously. Energy – energy and attitude are the key to life and problem solving. Ideas of what will work in the marketplace – creativity and innovation are critical. Small businessmen – be firm, but fair – you can do so as long as you are consistent. A bonus lesson included: embrace the things that matter the most to your team and get engaged in what makes people passionate.

Calvin L. Corriders

Regional President, Syracuse Market Pathfinder Bank

Corriders’ primary leadership lessons were instilled by his family – be humble and be courageous. Leaders bring people together; they work collaboratively. Corriders also recommends hiring people who are smarter than you are. He makes a point to laugh every single day and reminded people to never do anything illegal, unethical or immoral. Remembering “it’s not about me, it’s about us.” Corriders says to be aware that everyone in the room knows something that you don’t, and it’s important to value all thoughts. Lastly, he suggests leaders inspire and help others aspire by walking the walk — always be a role model.

Andreas Frank

SVP, President, Front Line Care, Hillrom

Frank’s primary leadership theme focused on the Importance of getting uncomfortable. Get uncomfortable by having a point of view. Be transparent. Be comfortable in expressing your opinion, and be kind and respectful in how you do it. Punch the topic, not the person. Get uncomfortable by taking a risk on people. Put people in positions that may be outside their traditional career path, especially those you trust. Get uncomfortable by being human. Be approachable. Stay humble. Leading is not about you, it’s about everyone around you. Frank shared that being a leader is like being the conductor of an orchestra, who doesn’t make a sound, but depends on their ability to make others powerful to enable his/her own power.

Tamika Otis

Director, KeyBank Business Boost & Build Program powered by JumpStart

One of Otis’ mentors described her as “an unexpected leader” because of her non-traditional path to leadership, which led to her two favorite lessons, first: allegiance to the mission. Otis left college to pursue a singing career, then on the brink of success left the music industry because it did not align with her goal to live a purpose-filled life. Otis wanted to be an effective and influential leader — like the one she never had. Second, human capital is the most important capital. How do we engage, relate to and respect people? How you treat others and in turn how you are treated is a direct reflection of the leader you are. Otis’ parting thought: do you want your legacy to be about the awards you won or about the people you empowered?

Stephanie Crockett

Executive Vice President - Managing Director, Mower

Crockett’s leadership advice comes from her parents, peers, friends and other leaders; she advises we are all constantly learning. Her first lesson is to not worry about fitting in a box that someone has created for you. Be yourself. Embrace adventure and the uniqueness of the experience. Don’t worry about detours. Rather, focus on what you can learn from an experience; and how you can grow. Recognize peoples’ differences and celebrate them. Live by The Platinum Rule – treat people how they want to be treated. Leadership is not a position or a title. Leadership is recognizing those around you and giving them what they need by removing barriers so they can achieve their goals.

Sheena Solomon

Executive Director, Gifford Foundation

Solomon’s leadership lessons are inspired by a mentor who took a risk on her and reminded her that everyone is born with a tool belt. Some are born with tools in the belt, some are not, and you can’t win every fight with the same tool. Solomon’s collection of tools include: proximity —some people are chosen for leadership, some work really hard at it, it’s important to talk and relate to real people, understand what constituents deal with on a daily basis. Empathy – it makes you stronger when you connect with others. Vulnerability – be willing to say what you have to say. Patience – be patient with people who haven’t shared the same experiences. Intentionality — if we are going to change the way things are we must be intentional. Courage – listen, learn, be present and be willing to take risks.

Michael Speach, Jr.

President & Head Chocolatier, Speach Family Candy Shoppe, Inc.

In Speach’s 100-year-old family business, his leading lesson is learn how to manage the family and employee dynamic. Find the balance. Delegate responsibilities for each person. Using their strengths for your business allows employees to feel confident as they move forward. Step outside your business. Learn from other leaders, see how they manage. Learn by proxy. Leaders should take time for themselves every day that is not related to their business. Encourage employees to do the same. Bonus lesson: over prepare because you never know what’s going to happen.